Monday, March 31, 2008

Media coverage and a comment

From Himalay Darpan on 30Mar2008


From the Telegraph: 31Mar2008

Monsoon worry for Kalimpong
- SOS to PM: save us from landslides

Kalimpong, March 30: Six-hundred-and-forty households in and around Kalimpong have appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to save them from landslides, a threat that looms large in the hills during monsoon.

Writing on behalf of the families, Save The Hills, an NGO, regretted that nothing had been done since the end of the last monsoon, which had caused widespread landslides and deaths in the subdivision, especially in early September.

“We have written and spoken to numerous government officials, urging them to identify critical landslide-prone areas and commence appropriate prevention measures on a war footing during the dry season. Regrettably, nothing has been done in this regard,” read the letter signed by one member each of the 640 households.

The signatures were collected by the NGO in eleven badly-hit areas like Bhalukhop, Alainchikhop, Pudung, Tirpai Bazar and Dungra Bustee.

The residents in their letter addressed to Singh in his capacity as the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority said they run the risk of losing their lives and properties once the monsoon starts.

The NGO had last week written to B.L. Meena, the caretaker administrator of DGHC, in this regard.

With no government help forthcoming, some residents have dug deep into their pockets to construct walls near the houses to protect themselves against landslides. “We are left with no choice. Actually, the only option before us is either death or financial loss,” said Phup Tshering Bhutia, a resident of Alainchikhop.

There was no allocation for landslide prevention in the Rs 30 crore development projects announced by the DGHC yesterday.


Comment by praful rao

Whereas I welcome the above media coverage, there are 3 issues associated with it:-

a) They appear in a local vernacular daily (Himalay Darpan) and the North Bengal edition of the Telegraph. So the readership is limited to North Bengal and no one even in Kolkata, let alone Delhi, is aware of our problem.

b) Anyone reading the above reports and indeed savethehills is bound to think that the landslide problem is limited to Kalimpong. That, sadly is not so.
The entire sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim were battered by the rains in Sep2007 and sustained extensive damage.
Unfortunately that is not what the media portrays..
how i wish my friends in Darjeeling and Sikkim would help correct this perspective.

c) Last and most astonishingly, out of the Rs 30 crore allocated for development projects in Darjeeling district by the new adminstration, landslide prevention gets NOTHING!

1 comment:

Swaroop said...

With regards to 'c', it is indeed astonishing that not a single penny was used for preventative measures in connection with the disastrous effects of landslides, which are not any new occurrences, the hills have suffered from this natural disasters for time immemorial and yet the powers that be does not seem to realise that one day, there will be no hills for them to reside in or rule over. I do hope that these bloody politicians wake up and take notice and take positive action before it is too late!