Friday, November 23, 2007

A warning too costly to be ignored...

Placed below is a translation of an article which appeared in "BARTAMAN", a Bengali daily (Kolkatta edition) on Sat - 17Nov2007.
(The English may appear incorrect at places but this is only to keep the translation as accurate as possible)


A joint research team from India and Poland has recommended the lessening of population from Darjeeling and Gangtok. They suggested the development of new townships to decrease population pressure in these two towns. They also suggested the lessening of load on the Coronation bridge which was built during the British period. They have suggested to the W. Bengal and Sikkim state govts, the immediate construction of alternate routes to the existing Coronation bridge.

The combined Polish / Indian team has been studying this area for the last 20yrs. The coordinator of the Indian team Mr Subir Sarkar, geologist from North Bengal University said the entire report would be sent to the Centre and to W.Bengal Govt, thru North Bengal University.

The team had carried out their research work in Gangtok, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Malbazar, Oodlabari and in the landslide prone areas around Bagrakote.

Due to rampant urbanization the matter had become extremely serious and could no longer be ignored. Mr Subir said that in the next five years portions of road between Siliguri and Darjeeling, Teesta Bazar, Sevoke, Rambi and road from Lava to Damdim is in danger of being fully damaged. The pressure of increased population, unscientific methods of building construction and unplanned drainage system are causing the frequent landslides said Mr Subir.

Mr Subir said that since there is no free land in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, hence places like Sonada, Tiger Hill, and Ghoom where there is presently less pressure on land should be developed as alternative townships. Alternative townships to Gangtok is also necessary.

The team said that in these landslide prone areas, people should use scientific methods of construction. As an example he pointed out that in 1982, in the Darjeeling’s hill area of Chanmari, 2 people died due to landslides but presently their family members had reconstructed their houses in the same spot. In 1993 due to another landslide a person was killed in the same spot. The house was reconstructed at the same place and in 2002 a landslide took another life in the same family. The house has been rebuilt and the family is now still living in the same area.

Due to heavy traffic movement on the Coronation bridge its condition is extremely dangerous. To save the bridge the team suggested alternate routes like Damdim - Lava, Kalimpong - Rhenock, Bagrakote – Lolaygaon be improved and used.

Mr Subir cautioned that there would be a dreadful calamity in the hills if the pressure on the land is not addressed immediately.

praful rao

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