Monday, February 18, 2008

An untold story - the Balasun saga

Balasun tea garden, P.O. Sonada, Sukhia Pokharia, Darjeeling is better known for the fine tea the garden produces. It is located at an altitude of 1400m just below Sonada town and sprawls over 400 hectares of land.

However, unknown to many, Balasun TG has a more sinister side – landslides.

With Balasun river gnawing at its heels, the landslide problem at Balasun TG is decades old. But it turned serious around 2003 when the sinking of land in some parts of the tea garden became alarming.

Of the 3 affected hamlets (Paari gaon, Babu gaon and Gairi gaon), Paari gaon is the worst off. Here, when hairline cracks in the earth started turning into monstrous chasms within days, 93 houses had to be evacuated. Of these 77 families have been relocated details of which are as follows:-
a) 30 houses were built by Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) fund
b) 29 were built by the Panchayat, DGHC
c) 18 houses were built by Anugyalaya Darjeeling Diocese Social Service Society (DDSSS) with the support of Caritas.

16 families are still to be relocated and are living in small temporary shelters.

- As reported by Ashesh Rai, member Anugyalaya DDSSS
photo credits Anugyalaya DDSSS


Comment by Praful Rao

Paari gaon is a grave yard of deserted, dilapidated houses today. But what is worrisome is that the other two hamlets are also following suit in a sinister chain reaction which seems virtually unstoppable.
Is this area really doomed? If so how many people will be affected in the short and long term? And what are the relocation/ resettlement plans?
If preventive action will delay the rate of land loss (if not stop the landslides) why have they not been taken in a more consistent way considering that Balasun river is not as turbulent or huge as the Teesta river?

These questions are all too familiar to any one who has read these blogs and unfortunately cannot be ignored any more both by the Government and the society at large.

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