Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Withdrawal of SW monsoons : 28Sep2010

One of the important roles of STH is to vigilantly monitor the weather over this region during the monsoons with a view to forewarn communities about impending periods of heavy/intense rainfall (which is the main trigger for most of the landslides in this region). 
Thanks to modern technology viz broadband internet & SMS etc and friends who are senior meteorologists we have been able to accomplish this task to considerable degree.
Also from Jun2010 we were able to monitor rainfall on a daily basis in the district with the 3 automatic rainfall gauges installed at Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling - the monthly rainfall being posted on this blog with a short analysis.
As a part of this role, the latest position of the SW monsoons is shown on the excerpt from the India Meteorology website
Praful Rao

Monday, September 20, 2010

The need for awareness and why STH must prevail

Slowly but surely anthropogenic factors are coming to the fore as one of the main causes of landslides in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya & in this, perhaps the key issue is the drainage  system (both man-made and natural) in the urban and rural areas.
The photos exemplify the state of most of our drains in the urban areas (top) and the condition of our jhoras (natural drains) on the periphery of all the towns (bottom).
STH, has in the past 3 yrs carried out almost 50 awareness workshops/seminars etc. It is clear that this drive must be intensified to bring about a fundamental change in the mindset of our communities in order to reverse the damage we are causing to these mountains by our callousness.

Praful Rao

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

STH's third anniversary and our official logo.

3 Years of Existence

SaveTheHills (STH) is  3 years old today and here is a recap of our achievements and failings:-

1.  STH is today a registered NGO working on the landslide hazard issue in the Darjeeling/Sikkim Himalayas.
2. We have been able to highlight the seriousness of the landslide problem in this region at the national and state levels - in so doing we are urging a long term, comprehensive solution be sought.
STH has conducted/ participated in or organized 47 big and small awareness camps/ workshops and seminars and our audience has been as diverse as villagers, professors, students, police officers, government officials and politicians.
4. Our paper on the landslide problem of Chibo-Pashyor villages of Kalimpong is now part of the official papers of the 2nd India Disaster Management Congress held at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi in Nov2009.
5. We have installed automatic rainfall gauges at Kalimpong and Kurseong and along with the one already existing at Darjeeling are able to keep a daily tab on the rainfall in these 3 major towns of the district. A monthly record of the rainfall in these towns along with a short analysis is published every month on this blog (from Jun2010).
6. Our maps of landslide affected areas are much more accurate thanks to Google Maps and imports from GPS.
7. With the help of India Meteorological Department we have established a rudimentary SMS based early warning system which has been functional throughout the monsoons of 2010. Under this system, heavy rainfall warnings are SMSed by Gangtok Regional Met office to a number of prominent NGOs who in turn pass on the warnings to communities in areas where they operate.
8. We carried out Community Based Disaster Risk Management on an experimental basis in Chibo-Pashyor villages of Kalimpong. In so doing we trained some young volunteer men and women in first aid (thanks to the army) and we also gave them some basic first aid and rescue equipment.
9. STH has been featured in a number of national magazines and newspapers inclusive of Tehelka, Planet-Earth, Times of Disaster Management, Telegraph, Talk Sikkim etc. STH won the Manthan Award South Asia (MASA) in Dec2009 and has also been featured a number of times in this prestigious landslide blog.

1. Without a doubt our most important weakness is lack of funds. This inhibits our work on a much larger scale where we could
a) Conduct a massive awareness drive in the district and Sikkim.
b) Update the inventory of landslides including those increasingly due to anthropogenic factors.
c) Continue with CBDRM and capacity building measures in vulnerable areas.
We are working hard to change this situation.

STH would like to thank Mr Gaurav Mani Pradhan for designing a most appropriate logo for us

Praful Rao

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Keeping tab on the rainfall

For several days now India Meteorological Department (Kolkata) has the following warning on this website
"Heavy to very heavy rain may occur at a few places over Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar districts of Sub-Himalayan West Bengal during next 24 hours. Heavy rain may also occur at isolated places over Bihar, Sikkim and remaining districts of Sub-Himalayan West Bengal during next 24 hours."
The cloud picture from Satellite Kalpana-1 of today is shown and the rainfall figure of three towns are :-
1. Kalimpong (10Sep2010) - 51mm      11Sep2010 (upto 9AM) - 18mm
(At Kalimpong the rainfall has more or less stopped)
2. Kurseong (10Sep2010) - 65mm        11 Sep2010 (upto 9AM) -16mm
(It is continuing to rain heavily at Kurseong)
3. Darjeeling (10Sep2010) - 10mm       11Sep2010 (upto 9AM) - 20mm
(Whereas there was hardly any rainfall yesterday, it is raining now at Darjeeling)

Posted at 1000hrs on 11Sep2010.

Praful Rao

Friday, September 10, 2010

Landslides in Sikkim - 09Sep2010

The Jawaharlal Nehru Marg connecting Gangtok with Nathu La border was restored today afternoon by Project Swastik of Border Roads Organization (BRO).
A BRO release informs that the Jawaharlal Nehru Marg was made through for all kinds of vehicles from 3 pm due to untiring and dedicated efforts by 130 Road Construction Company OC Manoj Kumar and his team.
The work team led by Lt Col Aniruddha Sen was also successful in recovering the heavy vehicle which was struck between the two slides.
However the road is still one way and traffic regulation is required.

Story : Sikkim Express
Photo : BRO

Praful Rao

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rainfall data Aug2010

The rainfall data of Aug2010 is placed above.
Kurseong again leads with excessive rainfall, whereas there has been more or less normal rainfall in Kalimpong and Darjeeling.
For Kalimpong and Kurseong one third of the month was almost dry with less than 5mm of rain.
Darjeeling district has remained largely unscathed by landslides this month with no death reported; things were not as rosy in neighbouring Sikkim which had more than its share of landslides especially along the highways.

Praful Rao

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A rundown of STH activities in Aug2010

1. The PR Pradhan Merit Awards, is a huge day long annual event organized by the Scottish Universities Mission Institution (S.U.M.I)  Alumni Association at the Town Hall in Kalimpong. This year the school had chosen "Preserving the Environment for the future" as its theme. STH participated with a power point presentation of the landslide problem in Kalimpong - the talk was entitled "The Mountains are talking but are we listening?"
2. On 13Aug2010, STH took part in a phone-in session regarding landslide hazards in the district organized by Himalaya Darpan, the largest selling Nepali daily in this region.
3. STH is well on its way along with DECU of ISRO, Ahmedabad towards making a documentary on landslides (see here)
4. Abstract as well as full length papers have been submitted for the 2nd World Congress on Disaster Management at Hyderabad in late Oct 2010 - the topic is " Landslide problem in Kalimpong and the need for a comprehensive, long term solution". The Congress is being organized by this society.

Praful Rao