Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The frailties of human memory

"India provides striking examples of a bewildering variety of landslides and other mass movements.There have been numerous landslides disasters, unique and unparalleled. In the recent memory, the Darjeeling floods of 1968 destroyed vast areas of Sikkim and West Bengal by unleashing numerous landslides, killing thousands of people. These landslides occurred over a three-day period with precipitation ranging from 500 to 1000 mm, in an event of a 100-year rainfall return period. The 60km mountain highway to Darjeeling got cut off at 92 places resulting in total disruption of the communication system."

- Disaster Management in India - a New Awakening

Dr RK Bhandari
Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management
Vellore Institute of Technology


The base of old landslides provide flat open spaces which are often used by humans to construct new settlements.
Topkhana (11th Mile) Kalimpong provides a text book example of this. What was in 1968, the scene of devastation is today a densely populated area. In most cases, the hazard is only dormant and may resurface again as it did in Sep2007 when a long crack developed along the hill overlooking this area.
Many residents were forced to flee their houses and take shelter for a week in an open market place..

like so many places I have written about , nothing at all has been done regarding landslide prevention in this area.

praful rao

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