SaveTheHills(STH) is a group of concerned citizens who are raising awareness about landslides in Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya.
Many landslides are the direct or indirect result of human interference and preventable if sufficient care is taken.
As such, unless we begin a comprehensive and sustained program towards landslide management, prevention and mitigation, the consequences of ignoring years of human callousness will, in the future be devastating.
Cyclone 'NADA' has formed in the Bay of Bengal and is expected to make landfall in Tamil Nadu in the early hours of the morning on 02Dec2016. Thus far in 2016, we have had 3 Cyclones forming in the Bay of Bengal - Roanu, Kyant and now Cyclone NADA
Subsequent to the first meeting called by NDMA for the Formulation of a National Strategy on Landslide Risk Management, Component 'V' which is responsible for preparation of Mountain Zone Regulations and Policies met for two days in Kalimpong.
Being a member of this Component,I am extremely happy that the 6 member team could visit the Chibo-Pashyor landslide area in Kalimpong and also interact with affected members of the community in a focused group discussion.
For those interested, the following six major components have been formed for formulating the National Landslide Strategy by the NDMA :-
I. Generation of User-Friendly Landslide Hazard Maps
II. Development of Landslide Monitoring and Early Warning System (EWS)
IV. Capacity Building and Training of stakeholders
V. Preparation of Mountain Zone Regulations & Policies
VI. Stabilization and Mitigation of Landslides & Creation of Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for Landslide Management
One of the central roles of STH has been spreading awareness about landslides - a hazard form whose impact on mountain communities has been neglected and under-estimated to a large degree the world over.
As such we have used every opportunity to engage with visiting teams both from India and abroad in the many landslide familiarization visits we have made over the years - records of all such visits are documented in this blog. In Oct 2016 as a part of this program, we took two visiting delegates of IIIT (Hyderabad) for a tour of landslides in and around Kalimpong on 08/09Oct2016. The institute is working on landslide prediction equipment which they would probably be installing in the Chibo-Pashyor landslide zone.
Extract of JTWC statement on Cyclone 'KYANT' :- ' UPPER-LEVEL ANALYSIS SHOWS A POINT SOURCE JUST TO THE EAST OF THE SYSTEM INTRODUCING SOME EASTERLY WIND SHEAR NOT
CONDUCIVE FOR REDEVELOPMENT. THE UPPER LEVEL ENVIRONMENT IS EXPECTED
TO REMAIN UNFAVORABLE AS THE DEEP-LAYERED RIDE BUILDS ESTABLISHING
PREDOMINANT EASTERLY FLOW ALOFT. THE REMNANTS OF TS KYANT IS
EXPECTED TO CONTINUE ON A TRACK TO THE WEST-SOUTHWEST ALONG THE
SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE BUILDING DEEP-LAYERED RIDGE TO THE
NORTHWEST. THIS IS THE FINAL WARNING ON THIS SYSTEM BY THE JOINT
TYPHOON WRNCEN PEARL HARBOR HI. THE SYSTEM WILL BE CLOSELY MONITORED
FOR SIGNS OF REGENERATION.' Praful Rao, Kalimpong, Dist Darjeeling
Reference is made to this
Subsequent to the two day program conducted last year in Darjeeling, the GSI and Govt of Bengal are launching another series of contact programs at various places in Darjeeling district (see program above).
Considering that this region is one of the most landslide prone in the country (see map below), I find this initiative laudable. I only hope there is a good response from the local people and officials (which was sadly missing last year).
It will be a pity if political interference impedes disaster awareness programs and initiatives.
A number of low pressure areas developed in the Bay of Bengal in Aug 2016 but we received little rain from these systems and went deficient in rainfall from the first week till the end of the month. Early in Aug 2016, what has been described as local event dumped 95mm of rain on the Chungthang-Mangan highway at Lantha khola, it caused a major landslide which breached the road.
A photo of the same is placed below.
As I write, this storm is very active over south Bengal where there is continuous but moderate rain, in Kalimpong we have thundershowers. Update on the above storm (22Aug2016)
The thunderstorm continued well into the night; rainfall data is given below. One person died in a fatal landslide at Samrik Paani, Pokhriabong, Darjeeling last night and NH10 which is an arterial highway linking Siliguri with Gangtok was blocked at Likhu Bhir (see below) and 10 other places.
Rainfall data of 21Aug2016 (in mm)
21Aug2016 started off as a hot sunny day. It clouded up in the afternoon and in Kalimpong it rained from approx 1530h till about 2130h.
Kalimpong : 45
Kurseong : 95.8
Siliguri : 18
Mal Bazar : 95
Gangtok : 14.8
Darjeeling : 74.6
All images post by Dr SS Porwal on 'Landslide Management' WA group. I have sharpened the images and increased sizes in PS.
Water level in the dam seem to be fluctuating, it had dropped 7' yesterday morning but increased by 5' later in the day.
GSI estimates the landslide, which is said to be a rock avalanche to be 1km long and width 572m. As per reports from the site, the slide is still active with large rocks still sliding down occasionally.
The landslide dam has been breached and the outflow from the dam and water levels in the pondage are being monitored continuously.
1. No casualties so far.
2. Administration has started 'miking' along some areas of NH10 which might be affected if the landslide dam bursts or overflows, this entails passing the message on vehicle borne PA systems. The important thing here is to avoid creating panic.
3. NDRF has been dispatched to the area.
4.Geologists and Disaster Management officials will survey area today.
5. Info from locals - the Kanaka river has already overflown the dam (not verified)
From our side, we are in touch with representatives of the Govt both at the Centre and States and members of the community in Dzongu, North Sikkim and continuously exchanging information.
Luckily, there is no rain in this region and those likely to be immediately impacted have been evacuated.