Saturday, August 13, 2016

Rainfall data of July2016 for the Darjeeling Sikkim Himalayas and the landslide activity of the month

July 2016 was an extraordinary month for Darjeeling district and North Bengal :-
a. All 3 major towns (Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong) of the district received more than the monthly average with Kurseong getting approx 3 times the amount.
b. But is in the plains that rainfall was heaviest. Siliguri received 354mm of rain on 24Jul2016 and much of Jalpaiguri district saw some of the highest rainfall in recent memory (Slide 9). The hills of Bhutan also received very heavy rains (Slide 8)resulting in most of the rivers emanating there, flooding the plains of Dooars and Jalpaiguri district.
c. There were many, many landslides (Slide 10) all over Darjeeling district but two killed people. On 09Jul2016, two people were crushed to death when a vehicle (Slide 3) they were travelling in, was hit by a falling boulder at Sweti Jhora on National Highway (NH) 10 (linking Siliguri to Gangtok). Later on 20Jul2016, a whole family of three was wiped out at Finchey Taar, in Lodhoma Darjeeling (Slide 6)  by a landslide following heavy and prolonged rains.
d. On 21Jul2016, the district administration decided to demolish (Slide 7)13 houses on the banks of the Teesta river on NH10 at 29th Mile near Kalimpong. The houses were perilously perched on the banks of the Teesta river and on an area which was known to be subsiding.The occupants had been compensated years ago but were refusing to move.
e. Most of the rain came down in the second half of July when IMD reported the axis of the monsoon trough had shifted close to the foothills (Slide 2). The typical clouding which persisted for much of the month is see on the IR image of 21Jul2016 (Slide 14). IMD also clamped a RED warning for SHWB (Sub-Himalayan W Bengal) and Sikkim for much of the entire month of July2016 and with good reason (Slide 5).
f. The roads and highways suffered tremendous damage. NH10 had a large number of bottlenecks which make driving from Siliguri towards and into the mountains both difficult and dangerous (Slides 3 and 11). NH55 or the route from Darjeeling to Siliguri was equally precarious with the main Rohini route closing down  (Slide 12)on 26July2016 and remain so till date.
Other routes like the Kalimpong-Algarah road fared no better with large chunks of it falling off (Slide 13) or being buried under debris (Slide 4).

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

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