The Department of Science and Technology, Govt of West Bengal is responsible for, amongst other things, preparation of high resolution maps based on satellite imagery which may then be used for locating landslide zones with great precision and in landslide zonation studies.
A team, from this dept lead by Dr AR Ghosh, Senior Scientist visited Darjeeling district and were in Kalimpong 07-08Apr08 for ground verification of the landslide zonation maps. On being contacted by them on 07Apr08, I took them around to some of the landslide affected areas around Kalimpong.
Some of the points which emerged from the interaction were:-
a) Aforestation programs seemed woefully inadequate in the hills. Dr Ghosh, while stating that aforestation was lagging behind in the plains observed that it was almost totally nonexistent in the hills and unless this was pursued more aggressively, landslides would continue to extract a heavy toll.
b) The landslide problem was so huge that no single agency (not even the government with all its resources) could wave a magic wand to rectify the situation. The government could, for example carry out jhora training on a massive scale but they would never be able to look into vast catchment areas which fed water into the jhoras.
Neither would the government be able to manage the aforestation program without the help of the local people.
So landslides would have to be resolved as a social issue, with NGOs, political parties and the people being involved and in all this awareness of the causes of landslides played a key role.
c) Landslide prevention measures since Sep07 in the areas visited were also virtually nonexistent.