SaveTheHills(STH) is a group of concerned citizens who are raising awareness about landslides in Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya. Many landslides are the direct or indirect result of human interference and preventable if sufficient care is taken. As such, unless we begin a comprehensive and sustained program towards landslide management, prevention and mitigation, the consequences of ignoring years of human callousness will, in the future be devastating.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
A picture from yesterday and an article from yesteryear
The article :
Human activity causes increase in landslides
“Down to Earth”
INDISCRIMINATE tree felling, construction, mining and quarrying, combined with heavy rainfall, have increased the fragility of the Himalayan mountains, leading to an increase in the incidence of landslides in the region. Of all the world's landslides, 30 per cent occur in the Himalaya, according to a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) study on the causes and consequences of natural disasters in the region and the protection and preservation of the environment.
The study, based on official reports, notes an average of about 75 major landslides occur annually in just central and western Nepal and this costs the country about $130,000 in damages to land and cattle alone.
The Nepalese government believes that indiscriminate mining and ill-planned road building are to blame for the widespread wastage of land resources, which forces rural communities to encroach into forests and further aggravates soil erosion. However, not all experts agree with this conclusion. Numerous studies argue that natural processes play a far greater role in the Himalayan region in causing landslides than human-induced ones.
In Sri Lanka, too, the government believes that landslides are increasing largely because of development projects that have spread even to steep hill slopes and other unstable locations in the country's central and southwestern regions. More intensive cultivation, which means more irrigation and more denudation of watersheds, also is being blamed.
Monsoon- and cyclone-induced rainfall are said to be major causes of landslides and land collapses, including riverbank erosion, in Bangladesh's hill districts, particularly the Chittagong region and parts of Sylhet. Experts say there is urgent need for a sound land-use policy in a land-hungry country like Bangladesh, if a halt is to be put to indiscriminate cutting of forests and poorly planned roads.
During the rainy season in Pakistan, landslides along highways in the Murree hills, Pir Panjal and the Hindu Kush are also triggered by dam construction and open-pit mining.
Besides natural factors, landslides in Bhutan have also been brought about by human activity, especially the building of roads and canals, which result in deep slope cutting and land saturation.
The above article and many more can be found here
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
23Mar2009: Seminar at the Centre of Himalayan Studies (Univ of North Bengal)
Several days ago I received an invitation from Prof R Sahu, Director of Centre for Himalayan Studies (CHS) , University of North Bengal , Siliguri for a seminar at the university and yesterday STH was represented in full force at the CHS. The speakers from STH were Er Mr U M Pradhan and the undersigned. It was good to be there in such an august gathering and we certainly look forward to much more interaction with CHS, NBU.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
A voice from the wilderness ...Balasun
Nehore Balasun Tea Estate (T.E) is a part of Sukhia Block, Darjeeling Subdivision, Darjeeling District. Landslides have affected this area since 1998 and where there were once orange orchards and extensive forestation there is now only dusty, crumbling slopes - landslides have devoured the orchards, parts of the T.E and homesteads.
In the past 77 families had to be shifted from their homes and rehabilitated and this year a further 88 families may have to follow the same fate in the most affected villages of Babu and Siran Gaon.
Though geological surveys have been carried out and officials of the state govt have visited the area nothing has been done by way to trying to control this devastation or manage the landslide.
So as of now, the letter addressed to me is just another voice in the wilderness...
and I wonder just who is listening?
- As narrated to the undersigned by young STH activist Bhusan Chhetri of Kurseong College and Mr Ashok Gurung of Nehore Balasun.
- Photo Credit : Bhusan Chhetri
For those interested, Balasun landslides have been featured on this blog earlier on 18Feb2008 and 04Oct2007
Saturday, March 14, 2009
From The Telegraph on14Mar2009 (Sindebung coverage)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Photos from Gangtok
Placed above are images from Gangtok.
On top is the landslide which occurred disrupting the water supply (read previous blog) to Sikkim's capital and above a familiar sight to most of us living in this part of the world, people lining up to buy water from a water tanker in Gangtok - the capital of Sikkim state.
My thanx to
Ms Mita Zulca, prominent publisher of Gangtok, Sikkim and Mr Sagar Chhetri of "NOW", a daily from Gangtok for the photos.
While bringing you these images, STH has networked with NGOs / mediagroups and private citizens to TRY and publish and catalogue reports/ photographs of landslides as they occur in the Darjeeling/ Sikkim region. I do hope we succeed!
Monday, March 9, 2009
From the newspapers today
"These are a cause of great concern, especially in areas of rapid growth in which cities are rapidly expanding. I fear that we will see a legacy of landslides in the urban areas of Asia over the next decade as a result of the incredible rate of urbanisation in Asia."
Dr David Petley, Univ of Durham UK
An Excerpt from the Telegraph today
Water supply hit- Pipes snap after slide
Gangtok, March 8: Water supply to Gangtok and its surrounding areas has been affected since yesterday morning as six pipes coming from a stream, the only source for the town, snapped following a landslide the previous night.
Since yesterday, the government has started ferrying water tanks on trucks to different areas of the town. Long queues of people were seen on the banks of the major streams.
On Friday, the pipes broke apart and were buried under rocks about 100m from Ratheychu which is the only water source for the Sikkim capital and its adjoining areas.
Around 36 million gallons of water from this source is supplied to Gangtok and its surrounding areas daily after it is treated at the Selep treatment plant, 10km from here.
“All the six main pipes have been damaged in the landslide and are buried under huge rocks,” P.S. Basnett, the principal chief engineer-cum-secretary of the state water security and public health engineering department, told journalists.
The landslide is 18km away from the Selep treatment plant. Water from Ratheychu is pumped into a pressure brake tank near 2nd Mile and then ferried to the treatment plant through the six main pipes.
“Restoration work is in progress and we will try to restore the two main pipes by Saturday evening,” Basnett had said yesterday.
Today, officials said the restoration was on at a war-footing and all personnel including the engineers were engaged in the process.
“But it may still take three more days for the supply to become normal as the place where the landslide occurred is a sinking zone and a lot of debris have to be removed from the area,” an engineer of the department said. The damaged cast iron pipes would be replaced by high density polymer pipes, he said.