Monday, November 23, 2015

Chasing landslides in the Darjeeling Himalayas (1) - 22Nov2015

STH has over the years endeavored to maintain a historical record of the landslide activity in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya in this blog since our region happens to be one of the most landslide prone in the world.
In a bid to update our records we will carryout surveys of landslide areas and publish our findings here - they will not be technical documents rather just factual data to highlight the severity of landslides in this region, in a hope that this disaster form will get the importance that it deserves.

27th Mile Landslide

1. Coordinates: N 26°59.913´ E 088°25.898´
2. Elevn : 299m 
3. Date of activation: 01July2015 - triggered by heavy rain
4. Approx size (from Google Earth): 236m X 400m 
5. Likely impact :
National Highway (NH) 10 and possibly Teesta Low Dam Project (TLDP III)

Karmat Landslide

1. Coordinates: N 26°55.749´ E 088°25.782´
2. Elevn: 675m
3. Date of Activation: Not known
4. Approx size (from Google Earth): 374m X 586m 
5. Likely impact:
Road communication from NH10 to Latpanchar cinchona plantation, Sittong 1/2/3 villages.

Sittong (3) Landslide

1. Coordinates: N 26°56.074´ E 088°23.708´
2. Elevn: 1143m
3. Date of Activation/cause : July1999 - triggered by heavy rain 
4. Approx size (from Google Earth): 290m X 1332m 
5. Fatalities : 08 in 1999. 
6. Relocated : 11 families shifted to Namthing Pokhari by Kurseong block office.
7. Planning relocation due to instability : 4 families with 18 members
8. Impacted:
Many acres of orange orchards and broom plants in the area.

A Different Type of Disaster :
Sittong (1/2/3) village was known for its fine oranges which used to flood the market places of Darjeeling district in Dec/Jan and was one of the main cash crops for many of its citizens. During my visit there yesterday, I learnt that for the last 3 years or so the crop production had declined drastically and now in Nov 2015 they were expecting yields, 90% below their optimum levels.
I was told that a peculiar disease had infected all the orange trees, wherein they would start dying from the inside and then a certain insect would lay eggs on the fruit which would make it rot prematurely -  and all this happening more to orange orchards at the lower elevations.
Some villagers went so far as to tell me that in 2016, they would most probably not produce any oranges from Sittong.

My thanks to
Sachin Tamang of Kurseong (9832320738)
Dilkumar Rai of Shelpu, Sittong3 (9547280057)
MB Sarki of the Sittong landslide area (9832406234)
for their time and inputs.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

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