Sunday, August 29, 2010

Landslides in Sikkim - 28Aug2010 (Extracts from Sikkim Express)


"Generally speaking, to kill people a landslide needs to move quickly rapid, and rapid landslides appear to be primarily (but note not always) triggered by intense rainfall events (indeed in the reports the term "cloudburst" often crops up). So, a key component of trying to understand the impacts of human-induced global climate change on landslides is the likely nature of changes in rainfall intensity, rather than that of rainfall total. Put another way, it is possible that the average annual rainfall for an area might decrease but the occurrence of landslides increase if the rainfall arrives in more intense bursts."                                                                                                                           - Dr DN Petley, Univ of Durham, UK

GANGTOK, August 28:
1. The unrelenting slides induced by incessant rainfall have further displaced more households in East Sikkim with 35 families shifted to safer places by the District administration today while Gangtok was cut-off from rest of the country for the second straight day due to two stubborn slides along the National Highway 31A near Government Fruit Preservation near Singtam.
2. The Project Swastik of Border Roads Organization (BRO), which looks after the national highways in Sikkim and parts of North Bengal, has managed to clear all the slides which occurred between 32nd Mile and Singtam on Thursday night.
3. The highway does have a smooth traffic but for the slides near the Government Fruit Preservation Factory forcing the commuters to walk some 200 m over the slides and take transshipment on either side.
4. The BRO Project Swastik executive engineer, AK Singh said that slides near Government Fruit Preservation Factory could not be cleared also even though three machines and sufficient manpower were deployed since first light today.
5. “We are trying our best to clear the slides by tomorrow noon. However if it rains tonight, we cannot help it”, said Singh. He pointed out that restoration works have been hampered by constant slush coming from the hill side.
6. “During our survey in the area, a considerably large artificial pond had been spotted on top the hill,” said the BRO official. The pond could have been created due to collection of underground water or supply from small streams located further uphill.
7. The seepage of water from the pond has led to sliding of more slush down the road whenever the existing muck is swept away by the machines and labourers. Whenever the muck from the road is cleared another batch of muck comes down from the hillside, the BRO official said.
8. Meanwhile, the continuous flow of slush has gathered threateningly in the staff quarters of the factory prompting the East District administration to evacuate 18 families from the quarters to safer locations.
9. SDM (East) AB Karki said that the quarters have been damaged by the slush and slides. “We shifted 18 families from the quarters and provided them relief materials,” he said.
10. The SDM also informed that two houses were damaged by slides at Sirwani near Dikchu. The families have also been shifted, he said.
11. Around 15 houses were also damaged in various degrees at Chisopani and Dochun near Singtam and the families have been shifted, said Karki. There are also reports of livestock being killed by slides, he said.

Photo credit and report from Sikkim Express - many thanks to them and for those interested the full text of Dr Petley's article is here

Praful Rao

No comments: