Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winds of change : No winter rains

Normally the winter rains (and the occasional snowfall) in this part of the world is caused by a series of WESTERN DISTURBANCES (WDs). These are extra tropical storms which pick up their moisture from the Mediterranean sea and Atlantic ocean and move thru Iran, Pakistan, northwest India and finally over our region during winters giving widespread rain and snow .
This year however, the WDs have followed a route which is much to the north of their normal tracks ( see slide 1) , also they have exhausted much of their moisture in the northwest resulting in no rain or snow this entire winter (Nov-Feb) in sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim.
In comparison, last year we did have much more rain and even snow during this period.
As a result, fields are ploughed fields are dry (slide 2 shows fields in Bhalukhop, Kalimpong) and the crop of maize which feeds so many in this part of the world may be adversely affected. The other fallout of this drought maybe acute shortage in potable water supply in the urban areas and forest fires.

Talking about the weather, here is a useful link regarding rainfall and weather prediction

a) (Min of Earth Sciences, GOI -provides medium range forecasts)

praful rao

Thursday, February 12, 2009


  • I realize we are late, but better late than never. Also what is placed below (our Action Plan for 2009) is at best an indication of our intended Plan of Action (POA) for the 2009. As the months melt into one another so will our plans but I am confident at the end of the year we will have accomplished much of what is planned.
  • As the STH Treasurer, Mr AK Pradhan has continuously cautioned me much our POA will depend on the fund position and having formed only recently STH does have a severe budgetary limitations. However, I do believe with a little help from our friends here and abroad the aims set forth below are reachable.
  • Finally, despite the much hyped about "paradigm shift in Disaster Management from a relief centric response to a one based on PREVENTION and PREPAREDNESS", factually nothing has changed at the grassroot level and it is still based on a post-disaster response to an event - ie waiting for a disaster to occur and then reacting to it.
    This must change.
    Therefore as an NGO, our role will largely be about changing this mindset and acting as a pressure group to have PREVENTIVE and MITIGATION work initiated against a hazard which has afflicted us relentlessly. That, and to spread awareness about the largely anthropogenic causes landslides...

    which is what the STH Annual Program (2009) is about.


ANNUAL PROGRAM OF SaveTheHills (STH) -2009

a) Prepare the STH annual program (Completed)
b) Prepare to participate in National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) /Army awareness workshop at army cantonment in Kalimpong in Feb2009. Role also includes liaison between the army authorities and public of Kalimpong. (Completed)

a) Participate in the NDMA / 33Corps Workshop on “Medical Aspects of Disaster Management” on 05Feb2009. (Completed - see earlier blog for report and photos of the Workshop)
b) Translate and arrange to print publicity pamphlets in Nepali (with the help/resources of NDRF)
c) Membership drive amongst individuals as well as institutions and NGOs.

a) Arrange for Landslide Hazard Awareness Workshops with Schools / Colleges / Social Clubs/ Rural areas inclusive of Cinchona and Tea plantations. This will be an ongoing program through the year.
b) Arrange a meeting with all Social Organizations of Kalimpong to chart out a community response to the problems of oncoming monsoons (such as drain cleaning)
c) Set up Landslide Alerting Posts all over the district with the help of NGOs and SHGs and check on means of communication for reporting landslides.

a) Work on a video on landslide hazards as well as STH activities. This will involve filming at landslide zones, interviews with affected persons etc and will be an ongoing project.
b) Rotary Club of Kalimpong Power Point presentation competition on “SaveTheHills” and Landslide Hazards in the Darjeeling/Sikkim Himalayas.

a) Execute community response planned in March (para b)
b) Sit and draw competition on ENVIRONMENT taking students of all the schools (age group between 10 to 15 )

a) 05JUN WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY celebration ( Organize a rally, street play and program in the Community Town Hall)
b) Keep a track of and report on landslides all over the district/ Sikkim
c) Visit landslide zones where possible, assess loss/cause.

a) Seven day tree plantation program in concert with the Forest Dept taking students to different landslide area of Kalimpong
b) Keep a track of and report on landslides all over the district/ Sikkim
c) Visit landslide zones where possible assess loss/cause.

a) Keep a track of and report on landslides all over the district/ Sikkim
b) Visit landslide zones where possible assess loss/cause.


a) Survey, classify and update data of landslides in all the affected areas of the District (and Sikkim if possible)
b) STH Foundation Day Celebration (inviting guests from Darjeeling ,Sikkim , Siliguri , Kurseong )

a) Continue the awareness programs
b) Photo Exhibition on “Landslide Hazards in Darjeeling /Sikkim Himalayas” at Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Gangtok.

a) Fund Raising program for STH in Kalimpong/Darjeeling etc featuring a prominent musician.
b) Continue the awareness programs

a) Continue the awareness programs
b) Assess the impact of awareness / landslide prevention measures taken thru the year.


My thanks to Ms Aachal Tamang, Exec Member STH for doing much of the work in preparation of the above plan.

praful rao

Friday, February 6, 2009

Awareness Workshop (05Feb2009) at Kalimpong: Medical Response to Disaster

The NDMA together with the Army Authorities (33Corps) held a one day Awareness Workshop on "Medical Response to Disaster" at Kalimpong on 05Feb2009.
The NDMA was represented by officers and personnel of 106 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Battalion at Kolkata. The Chief Guest was the GOC 27 Mtn Division, Gen VK Pillai and the resource persons were included STH besides govt and medical officers.
The workshop was followed by elaborate and detailed demonstration by army medical corp personnel on casualty evacation, setting up of emergency treatment and information centres and a line-up of equipment used by the NDRF in disasters.
STH was involved with the workshop in liaising with army and civilians and inviting NGOs, providing data/photographs of landslide disasters and of course delivering a lecture :The Need of the Hour".
Approx 50 people of Kalimpong attended the workshop.


My thanks to the NDMA and Army for holding this workshop at Kalimpong and allowing STH to participate in it. My thanks also to all members of STH who helped in planning and executing our role in the workshop

praful rao