Sunday, May 18, 2008

8months later, a time for introspection...

Our successes

a) The landslide hazard situation in the Darjeeling/Sikkim Himalayas has been highlighted at the highest level. I know for certain that the National Disaster Management Authority has been notified.

b) Scientists from such national organizations as the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Dept of Science and Technology, Govt of W. Bengal have seen the devastation caused by the Sep07 landslides first hand.

c) The Administrator, Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) has after our meeting with him, agreed to put tackling landslides in the district as one of his administrations priority areas, along with those earlier designated (such as rural electrification, health etc).

d) The highest levels in the State Administration ie the Chief Minister, Principal Secretary of State Disaster Management authority have been notified of the landslide situation here. I do know the Governor is very much aware of our problem.

e) Leading national and international experts in the field of landslide hazard studies are aware of our problem and have written to us. They include
i) Prof. Leszek Starkel of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
ii) Dr RK Bhandari, Chairman, Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management, Vellore Institute of Technology
iii) Prof David Petley of Durham University, UK.
Students from the University of Pittsburgh,USA may also be doing advanced research on landslides in this area in the future.

f) A number of landslide awareness meetings have been carried out and there are many more coming in the days ahead. The local media and press have given wide coverage to the issue.

And failures

a) Despite all that we have achieved, the most glaring failure has been that no preventive work against landslides has been carried in the last 8 months. Not even a stone has been moved in some critically affected areas and now with the monsoons just weeks away, we do face the prospect of loss of life and property.

b) STH has failed to rouse any sort of concern from the man on the street. The apathy amongst the people and especially the youth (except those directly affected by the landslides) is alarming.

c) The national media (print and electronic) remained unmoved by all that happened.

Photo credit: Chinlop F Lepcha

praful rao


Bharat Mani Pradhan said...

As for last (b) and (c) above, might as well hire some "cheerleaders".

On serious note, we got to intervene by engineering effective sensitisation campaigns.

Bharat Mani Pradhan said...

I am "ideating".