Sunday, July 14, 2019

Extreme event in the Darjeeling Himalayas as it unfurls :14Jul2019

We, in the Darjeeling Himalayas have over the past 9 days been witnessing an extraordinary weather event.
a. A low pressure area between the states of UP and Bihar resulted in a sudden spurt in monsoon activity in the region with rainfall suddenly jumping from - 56% in the beginning of Jul2019
to where we received more than our monthly average of rain for July (average 615.8mm) in the spate of just 10 days.

b. This extreme weather event is still ongoing (see below)

and IMetD has clamped on a RED weather warning for this region for an unprecedented number of days in a row.
In keeping with the enhanced rain, we have had a quantum increase in landslide activity in the Darjeeling Himalayas:
  -    We have had 2 fatalities due to landslides directly and another 4 when a vehicle carrying tourists plunged into the Teesta river on National Highway (NH)10. NH31A also had landslides in July2019.
  -   NH10, an arterial road connecting Sikkim to the rest of the country has been blocked for the past 2 days and so have virtually all the roads out of Kalimpong towards Sikkim and the Dooars plains. NH55 which links Darjeeling to Siliguri is cut off at places and the services of the DHR have been suspended.
 -   There have been a spate of landslides all over the districts of Kalimpong and Darjeeling. We will be giving more details on the landslides in this blog.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Thursday, July 11, 2019

09July2019: Landslide report from Darjeeling.

Landslide in front of Anugayalaya/Divyavani, near Loreto Convent, Darjeeling

 At around 4:30 am on Tuesday Morning i.e., 9th July, a landslide occurred in front of Anugayalaya/Divyavani near Loreto Convent (to be precise below Bishop’s House, NH10).The debris covered the entire road in front of the building which caused the drain water to enter inside the building (fig. 1.0).
The landslide took place at the adjoining road (i.e., a road to Anugayalaya’s Office) on NH10 (Lebong Hill Cart Road).There were few signs of crack visible on the road in fig 1.2. The slide is measured to be around 13 metres in height and 6 metres in width. However, to consider the width of the whole areas, is 30 metres (which is also the length of Pony road). The rainfall data as measured by IMD over the past 24 hours is 112 mm.
The staffs(Church and Anugayalaya) witnessed the incident in the morning. Around 4 am in the morning, they noticed drain water streaming down the slope and slowly leading to landslide. The slide blocked the road in front of Anugayalaya’s office, which is also a road leading to Loreto Convent.
The local residents and the staffs cleared and made a walkable passage for the school children to walk down to their school. They covered the landslide (fig 1.7). Till 9 am, no local authorities neither the relief materials were available.
The reason behind this incident was drain blockage. The drain system was completely blocked as shown in fig. 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6. So, the drain water along with road/rain water started flowing/pouring down the slope causing landslide.
The authorities started to visit the site after 9:30 am. The Irrigation department came to take measurements then followed by the traffic officials. Assistant Engineer Mr Anup Das, Central Planning, GTA visited the site as well.
The Darjeeling municipality engineer department, Mr Prashant Rai (Head of the engineer department) visited the site. He informed his department workers to come and start cleaning up the debris. The workers started cleaning the road as seen in fig 1.8, 1.9 and 2.0. The clearance took till 1:30 pm in the afternoon. 

Amit Gurung

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Preliminary report on Fatal Landslide at Sukhia Pokhrim Darjeeling (08Jul2019)

At around 1:30 am on Monday night (08Jul2019), a landslide occurred at Chatai Dhura (Forest Village) below Pubung Fatak, near Sukhia, Darjeeling. The house of Lopchan family was buried under the landslide.
Two people, Kumar Lopchan (60 years) and his wife Bal Kumari Lopchan (55 years), died. They were buried under the debris. After being extricated by the Police and Fire brigade and they were rushed out to Sadar Hospital, Darjeeling where the doctor declared them dead.
The landside and mud flow/slide occurred from State Highway 12 which connecting Sukhia to Simana. The landslide is more than 100 metres and 30-40 metres wide. As per IMD, the rainfall of Darjeeling is 172 mm in the past 24 hours (07Jul2019).
The probable cause behind this incident is as per BDMO Sukhia block, could be due to state highway extension. While its construction the mud or soil was left opened at the side. The drainage wasn’t clear out for the monsoon water flow. As to look into, the village was built on steep slope.
The problem the people faced was due to being under no network coverage area. So, the information to the Gram Panchayat Staff was late. The BDMO received the information around 6 am in the morning.

Amit Gurung,

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The aftermath of 150mm of rainfall in 12hrs at Kalimpong (06Jul2019)

It started raining at around 1.00pm in Kalimpong yesterday and what started as a gentle shower intensified late evening (see intensity graph) and night and ended up dumping over 150mm of rain in parched Kalimpong over a 12hr period.
In this region rainfall peaks in July with a monthly average of 615.8 mm. 157mm of rain of (06Jul) therefore accounts for 25% of the monthly rain and is equal to approx 7 days rain all coming down withing a 12hr span.
The aftermath is shown in a photo essay below:

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Friday, July 5, 2019

Images of the first major landslide in the vicinity of Kalimpong : 05Jul2019/0800hrs

Took place on National Highway 31 between Coronation Bridge and Monpong in W Bengal. Time, approx 0800hrs this morning. I do not have rainfall data of the place but we had 22.6mm of rain between 0500-0630hrs in Kalimpong which 20km away (aerial dist).
No casualties.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

STH activities: Working to revive our dying springs in the Himalayas

ICIMOD along with The Mountain Institute - TMI (Gangtok) has carried out a detailed survey of several springs in the CHIBO -PASHYOR area with a view to carry out intervention on the same lines as the DHARA VIKAS program  in Sikkim during the monsoon of 2019.
The above meetings were held as a precursor to the actual work on the ground.
STH is the local partner in Kalimpong.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling -Sikkim Himalayas

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Rainfall data of May2019 for the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Rainfall data of Gangtok, Dentam and Damthang (Sikkim) are from IMD (Sikkim).

Cyclone FANI
which formed in the Bay of Bengal in April 2019 end and dissipated by the first week of May2019 had no impact in our region.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, June 29, 2019

An event of Note : Dialogue on Rejuvenation of Himalayan Springs : Kalimpong Park Hotel, 02Jul2019 at 0930hrs

If any news is dominating these days in India, it is water or its shortage thereof and the Indian Himalayas despite being 'the Third Pole' is not far behind the rest of the country in this regard.
It is well known that mountain springs which are our life line have been drying up at an alarming rate all along the IHR.
The above project undertaken between ICIMOD and The Mountain Institute (Gangtok) is the first intervention in Kalimpong even though several other organizations have also been working in the rejuvenation of springs in the Darjeeling-Kalimpong districts and the stakeholders dialogue on 02Jul2019 is in regard meant to put all on an even keel about what is being attempted, where and the work involved.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling- Sikkim HImalaya

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Flood scare in Sikkim and Kalimpong district (W.Bengal) - 17Jun2019

The Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya has thus far had very deficient in rainfall (see below)

 The SW monsoons finally arrived over the Darjeeling Sikkim Himalayas on 16Jun2019 almost 10 days late and we had relief from the heat here when there was a smattering of rainfall given by clouds shown:

Rainfall figures for 16/17Jun2019 are given (source IMD):

So I was rather surprised when we started getting flood alert messages from Sikkim on 17Jun afternoon on WhatsApp, that due to a 'cloud burst' in North Sikkim, the level of the Teesta river was rising dramatically and parts of Singtam (Adarsh Gaon), a business town one hour short of Gangtok and other low lying areas along NH10 were in danger.
Having kept a close look on the weather and rainfall of the region, which was nowhere near extreme, I personally feel that the dams at Chungthang and Dikchu in Sikkim had released large volumes of water after the rains which resulted in the Teesta river level rising sharply. I am aware that most of these dams are run-of-the-river dams, yet considering the steep descent path of the Teesta river and its turbulence, I do believe the volumes of water released caused the flood-like situation.
In this regard, I refer readers to the Youtube video below:

Updates on the above event:
Rainfall data of 17/18Jun (0830hrs to 0830hrs) available now:
Sankalan: 140mm
Mangan: 70mm
Chungthang: 50mm

(Source IMD)

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya