- 2008 was an extremely lucky year as far as landslides . With less than average rainfall in Jul/Aug and highly deficient rainfall in Sep2008 we escaped with just a few slides in the month of Jun2008.
Quite naturally (and very happily too!) there were no washed away bridges to photograph or grim stories to recall. Good for us and I hope we are as lucky in the years ahead too!!
- Hidden behind the seemingly dormant and inactive period, there has been a virtual storm in STH - with a flurry of behind the scene activities taking place:-
a) So on 21Sep2008, we had a meeting at the local community hall and STH today is an NGO. We are in the process of registering the body as a society. I will in the course of time post brief member profiles of all the STH executive members.
b) Besides working towards raising awareness about landslides in the Darjeeling and Sikkim hills, STH took on a different role on 18Oct2008.
Hearing the plea of a young hardworking but under-privileged student, Subash Chhetri, from Sinji a remote village in Kalimpong subdivision, who is currently doing his B. Tech (agriculture) in Uttar Banga Krishi Vishwa Vidylaya, Cooch Behar, STH raised money from donors and gifted the student with a laptop. The seven donors included individuals and institutions from Sikkim and Kalimpong.
We also used the occasion to remind people that it was the 40 anniversary of the Oct 1968 disaster in these hills when thousands died in landslides. To commemorate this, STH is organizing a national level workshop on Landslide Hazards in Darjeeling on 21 Nov 2008. Prof Leszek Starkel a world renowned geographer who has been studying landslides in this area for the past 40 years will be the Chief Guest as well as main speaker. Other resource persons will be drawn from North Bengal University, Border Roads Task Force and STH. Representatives from Sikkim will also attend. Officials from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and State Disaster Management Authority are also expected to attend.
I leave you with a photograph from the small ceremony where we gave away the laptop.
(That's STH Exec member, Ms Gayatri Kharel, a structural engineer presenting the laptop to Subash Chhetri, B Tech student)