Nimbong, 71kms by road from Kalimpong, is a sleepy little hamlet within Kalimpong sub-division.
Nimbong Gram Panchayat - GP (Slide 1) has a population of around 7000 and is no stranger to landslides. In July1996, 36 people perished in landslides in this area. Cyclone Aila miraculously spared Nimbong even though the pine forests from Kafer to Nimbong seemed to have taken a severe beating but barely a week later, on 02Jul09, one day’s torrential rain (starting from approx 5pm and going right thru the night) caused severe damage to Nimbong and the adjoining Pabringtar (also called Barbot) area.
I visited this area on 06Jun09 and here is my report :-
1) The devastation was much too apparent as one approached Nimbong town (Slide 2), the hillsides were scarred by numerous slips (Slide 3).
2) The town itself is lodged on a ridge but what I noticed was the absence of any drainage system within the town; perhaps as a result, landslides have occurred from the ridge behind one of the houses.
3) We had to walk down to Barbot since the road from Nimbong to Barbot was (ie the Bagrakote – Lava road) was sliced up at numerous places by landslides. Two bull dozers were clearing the rubble but it would take some days before the road would be opened for traffic (Slide 4).
4) I walked back from Barbot thru the lower (rural) parts of Nimbong. This area has numerous natural drains (jhoras) (Slide 5) ploughing thru the paddy fields and almost every jhora had caused a landslide. Farmers here seem to have lost a lot of arable land to landslides.
5) Towards the end of a 2hr walk in rural Nimbong we reached Central Gaon (village). Here there is a gigantic landslide (Slide 6) which first started in 1996. The landslide has caused ruin to the entire village (Slide 7) and the areas immediately above it (Slide 8) and seems virtually uncontrollable now. People from here and adjoining areas must be relocated to a safer place as also people from Ghanti Dara where there is another huge landslide. The latter slide began almost entirely on 02Jun09 as per the local people.
Already at Centre Gaon, 21 people have moved their belongings to a Primary School (Slide 9) and more people are ready evacuate.
6) What was apparent was that Nimbong and the surrounding areas had been severely affected in the one day downpour on 02Jul09 and here geology and rock structure of the area may be the main cause since the earth seemed to literally crumbling at so many places.