NGO fills govt boots in fight against landslides
Kalimpong, Jan. 29: A few concerned residents, under the banner of Save the Hills, are trying to find ways to fight landslides in Kalimpong, a problem skirted by the powers-that-be.
Over the past two days, the residents hosted a team of students from the North Bengal University’s one-year post-graduate diploma programme in disaster management and gave them a detailed account of the havoc caused by landslides in Kalimpong in September last year.
The team had eight students, accompanied by the department head Sanjay Rana.
The team was taken to a few landslide-hit areas like Elainchikhop, Bhalukhop, Dalapchand and 14th Mile. Save the Hills also conducted a workshop where its president Praful Rao made a power-point presentation for the benefit of the students.
“Some of the students will incorporate what they have learnt during this field trip in their project reports, which they have to prepare in the second semester of their course,” said Rana.
The objective behind the visit, said Rana, was to enable the students to get a first-hand experience of landslides and gather technical inputs.
The students, on their part, said the visit was of immense benefit to them.
“Lack of drainage, haphazard construction and poor soil character seemed to be the main causes of the landslides. What was also noticeable was that the people were not sufficiently aware of the problem,” said Preeti Gurung, a student.
In fact, the students were so moved by Save the Hill’s work on landslides that some of them have made a commitment to support the NGO in whatever way they can.
“We will be writing to authorities concerned and, maybe, even hold a seminar on the issue in our university,” said Gurung.
Rana confirmed that he was toying with the seminar idea.
The NGO has expressed unhappiness over the complete lack of initiative from government agencies to tackle the problem.
“Despite writing to so many agencies, we have found no evidence of any preventive work being done on the ground. The situation remains exactly the same as it was in September. This is scary because the monsoon is only about four-five months away,” said Rao.
The NGO has been tirelessly campaigning about the threat since the September landslides. It has already conducted three workshops.
“Despite receiving little response from agencies concerned, we will keep espousing the cause because, quite simply, our future is at stake here,” said the president of the NGO.
On September 7, 2007, five persons had died in the Kalimpong subdivision after incessant rain triggered a series of landslides in the area.