Sunday, December 15, 2019

Rainfall data of November 2019 for Darjeeling SIkkim Himalaya

November was a dry month for the entire region.
It rained coincidentally only on 04Nov2019 and the stats are as follows:
Kalimpong - 32mm
Mangan and Gangtok - 2mm each
Damthang - 7.6mm
All other stations reported NIL rainfall

Normal rainfall for November in our region is 20.3mm

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

STH Activities as a part of the Darjeeling Himalaya Initiative : International Mountain Day (11Dec2019) Celebration at Kalimpong

11Dec is International Mountain Day and DHI decided to celebrate the event with a 3 day training of peers session in Kalimpong to combat another scourge of the mountains which is solid waste. As tourists throng to the mountains, they leave behind mountains of garbage and if we are to have a healthy lifestyle where we live we must deal with the waste problem in the mountains without delay.
As mentioned 46 young men and women are currently undergoing intensive training in waste management at a hotel in Kalimpong.
Placed below is an image of the waste dumps of Darjeeling and Kalimpong towns which are still burning as I write this article.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya

Thursday, December 5, 2019

On World SOIL Day (05Dec2019) - Highlighting a wonderful initiative at the grassroots level at SOIL CONSERVATION in CHIBO Village (Kalimpong) -08Aug2019.

Today, unknown to most is WORLD SOIL DAY for which the theme in 2019 is


Towards this end I would like to highlight a wonderful initiative taken by the villagers of CHIBO, a rural community on 08Aug2019 to conserve soil and check soil erosion.
CHIBO village in Kalimpong has featured in this blog numerous times, because it's a particularly landslide prone area on the western face of the Kalimpong ridge line, where interventions have been undertaken by the GSI, IIT Indore and others.
On 08 Aug2019, the entire community of the village had mobilized themselves thanks to a push from Mr A Sitling, senior member of the village and a lady (Arawaalni boju) of the village.
The photo -essay with captions is below:-
Photo credit in parts: Ms Sharon Sitling, Chibo

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Good news for us: Landslide Early Warning Systems (LEWS) get a boost

BBC recently came up with this article on LEWS:
Rather coincidentally, almost a year and a half ago we had the same team from IIT Mandi at Darjeeling for Darjeeling Himalaya Initiative's (DHI) 'Call of the Mountains' event (below)
STH has remained in touch with the IIT Mandi team and hopes that before the next monsoons a few of the LEWS sensors will be in place in some landslide prone areas of the Darjeeling -Sikkim Himalayas.
In this regard, I am glad to report that interest on Landslides as a major disaster form has grown in the country and the world over and we know of a number of institutes and technologies now working on LEWS.
To name a few:
     * Project LANDSLIP working on developing a regional landslide EW system in the Darjeeling and Nilgiris region of India.
     * IIT Indore working in the CHIBO-PASHYOR area of Kalimpong on sensor based EW system.
     * GSI on community based landslide early warning system in Giddey (Kurseong). 
     * Amrita University on LEWS in East Sikkim.
     * LHASA system in Rio.
All in all, good news for us who live in landslide prone regions of the world.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Monday, November 18, 2019

Rainfall data of the Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalayas - OCT2019

As can be seen, our region has started its descent into the long, dry months ahead, the impacts of which will undoubtedly be felt in the availability of water in the mountains which will in turn affect the water and food security of the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya.
This chain of events will continue the now familiar viscous cycle of migration of youth to urban centers in search of better livelihoods and opportunities and the decline of the agriculture in our area.
There were no landslides in OCT 2019 in this area.
Regrets for not publishing rainfall of Darjeeling(Batasia) and Kurseong in the blog.

Kurseong rainfall for Oct2019: 19.6mm

Praful Rao with Shreya Gurung
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Closing Oct2019 with a bang : 3 Cyclones in the region

Oct 2019 for Kalimpong and Darjeeling districts has been dry. We are almost -60% in the monthly rainfall. Nevertheless, there has been plenty of weather activity elsewhere in the country with peninsular India and the western coast receiving plenty of rain.
As the curtains came down on Oct, we have 3 active storms in our region as shown above.

Update on 03Nov2019

Update on 05Nov2019
Caught in a pincer movement by two storms

Update on 10Nov2019
Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Milestones in STH: Making it to the 36th International Geological Congress in Delhi in Mar2020

The 36th IGC, is undoubtedly the most prestigious event of its kind in the world where the best minds and scientists would congregate for the congress.
STH had submitted its abstract several days ago on the subject 'Role of ICT in Disaster Information Exchange and knowledge sharing at the grass root level: our experience in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya'.
We are very happy that our abstract has been accepted by Team 36 IGC.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Rainfall data of Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya of Sep2019 and rainfall 2019

We have added Darjeeling (Batasia) station where the rainfall is being recorded by Navin bhai, an enthusiastic amateur meteorologist.
As per the above (lower) table we came to the end of the 2019 SW Monsoon season in September.

Excerpts from IMD's press release on the 2019 SW monsoon is reproduced below:

* The 2019 southwest monsoon season comes to end with above normal seasonal (June to September) rainfall. Quantitatively monsoon seasonal rainfall was 110% of its Long Period Average, which is 88 cm.
* In spite of late monsoon onset and large deficient rainfall during the month of June, the seasonal rainfall ended in above normal category with 110% of its LPA. Monsoon rainfall during July, August and September were 105%, 115% and 152% of its Long Period Average respectively.
* Other salient features of 2019 monsoon seasonal rainfall are as follows:
  - After 1994 (110% of LPA), rainfall received in 2019 (110 % of LPA) is the highest
season rainfall received by the country as a whole.
  - During 18 of the last 19 years (2001-2019), North-East India has received seasonal rainfall less than LPA with an exception of 2007 (110% of LPA). This indicates that the seasonal rainfall over North-East India is passing through a below normal epoch like it was during early 1950s to mid-1980s.
  - After 1931, this is the first time, the seasonal rainfall is more than LPA even after the June rainfall deficiency was more than 30% of LPA.
  - After 1996 (119 % of LPA) , this is the highest recorded August rainfall (115% of LPA).
  - This is the second highest September rainfall (152 of LPA), after 1917 (165% of LPA).
  -  After 2010, this is the first time, rainfalls during all the last three months (July to September) were above LPA.
  -  The highest cumulative rainfall during August-September (130 %) has been recorded in 2019 after 1983 (142 %)
Withdrawal of Southwest Monsoon, 2019
The withdrawal of southwest monsoon is likely to commence from northwest India around 10th October, 2019 against the normal date of 01st September. The most delayed withdrawal in the past years has been recorded in 1961 (1st October 1961), followed by 30th September in 2007.
Rainfall 2019 for East and North East India

Ms Shreya Gurung
Praful Rao

Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

An event of NOTE : Legislator's dialogue on Climate Change (02-4Oct2019) at Kalimpong

STH is a part of the Darjeeling Himalaya Initiative (DHI). Read more about Integrated Mountain Initiative

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Extreme thunderstorm at Kalimpong (20Sep2019)

Photo credits : Ms Shreya Gurung

* Having worked on the landslide problem of this region, I am very worried when we have intense rainfall towards the end of the monsoons. Some of our major landslide events (Oct 1968, Sep2007) have taken place at this time when the soil is saturated in the months of monsoon rain and a heavy downpour occurs triggering slope failure.
Last evening, we were lucky - the rainfall was extreme and intense reaching 215mm/hr and staying over a 100mm/hr for a good 20mins. Maybe what saved us was:
a. The past 10days have seen deficient rainfall with the last 2 days being dry.
b. The storm quickly moved away from us and within an hour we were dry again.
* And this seems to be the new normal where we alternate between rainfall deficiencies and surplus, where we either have no water and our fields and springs are dry or when we have so much water that it causes landslides and death.
* Having said this, I would also like to bring to light the recent landslides in Tsong, Yuksom area of Sikkim where there was no warning of heavy rain in the area as in the case of Kalimpong yesterday. These small local weather events which can result in heavy downpours but do not show up on satellite imagery and therefore give no warning are increasingly the ones we must guard against.

Total rainfall in the thunderstorm on 20Sep2019 42.7mm

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

STH activities - Participating in 'Deluge and Disaster' a Sensitization Program in Siliguri College (Dept of Geography): 17Sep2019

A sensitization programme on climate change entitled " Deluge and Disaster: Towards Mitigation and Adaptation " was organised by the PG Dept of Geography and Applied Geography, Siliguri College in collaboration with the Center for Mitigation of Climate Change and Global Warming ( CMCCGW), on 17.09.2019, in the Dept of Geography, Siliguri College.
Anthropogenic climate change is one of the greatest challenges that humanity is facing in the 21st Century. Hence, the need to motivate and inspire young minds to ponder upon questions and issues that confront us today.
With this main objective and with the target audience primarily being the post graduate students of the
Department, the Programme was just the right mix of profound and proactive exploration of the core theme, under the tutelage of very distinguished experts:
  • Dr S. Mishra(Retd. Ag-meteorologist, WB) presented an in-depth research-based account of the climate change patterns in West Bengal for a period of over 100 years.
  • Wg Cdr Praful Rao (retd), President, STH spoke on 'Water - too little or too much, the new normal.'
  • Dr P. T. Bhutia( Ex APCCF, NB) presented a scientific account, which was at the same time, an empathetic and poignant portrayal of the impact on climate change on the Jaldhaka WLS.
  • DR S. Halder ( Exe. Engineer,WB) gave an enlightening talk on Deluge Disaster Risk Assessment. Dr. S. Ghosh( Director, Soil Survey, WB) explored issues of climate change vis a vis agriculture, while Smt Majumdar ( President, IRGSD, Kolkata) addressed the psychological response to climate induced disasters.

The quality of the lectures and the wisdom imparted by the speakers ensured that the students were inspired and motivated to look at issues of climate change, with the gravity and seriousness it deserves.

My thanks to Dr Nima Lama for the write up.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, September 14, 2019

STH Activities: Working on Mountain Spring Rejuvenation with ICIMOD (&TMI) in Kalimpong - 13Sep2019

Excerpt from NITI Ayog's 'Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security'
'Mountain springs are the primary source of water for rural households in the Himalayan region. For many people, springs are the sole source of water. For example, a major proportion of drinking water supply in the mountainous parts of Uttarakhand is spring based, while in Meghalaya all villages in the State use
springs for drinking, irrigation and for livestock. As per a rough estimate, there are five million springs across India, out of which nearly 3 million are in the IHR alone. Despite the key role that they play, springs have not received their due attention and many are drying up. Spring discharge is reported to be declining due to increased water demand, land use change, and ecological degradation. With climate change and rising temperatures, rise in rainfall intensity and reduction in its temporal spread, and a marked decline in winter rain, the problem of dying springs is being increasingly felt across the Indian Himalayan Region...
Of late, efforts to preserve and save springs from drying up and efforts to recharge them are gaining momentum....'

Praful Rao
Kalimpong District,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Rainfall data of Darjeeling Sikkim Himalayas - August 2019

Rainfall data of Siliguri, Gangtok (East Sikkim), Dentam (W Sikkim) and Damthang (S Sikkim) are from IMD.

There were no major landslide events in August 2019 in our region.
My thanks to all my friends who helped in compiling the above rainfall data.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Rainfall data of July2019 for the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya

The torrential downpours between the 06July till 17Jul2019 caused a spate of damage all over the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts and resulted in 5 deaths and many landslides. Links are placed below:
a. Either it's too little or too much
b. Extreme event in Darjeeling
c. Landslide report
A graphical representation of the rainfall over Kalimpong in July2019 (from our Davis AWS) is placed below:
A copy of the RED warning issued by IMD during the period is placed below and as far as I can remember, the first 2 weeks of July 2019 saw the largest consecutive number of RED warnings issued for heavy rain for SHWB (Sub-Himalayan W Bengal) and Sikkim:
The rainfall data (Jun-July2019) for Sikkim from IMD Sikkim is below:
Rainfall data of Gangtok, Damthang, Dentam and rainfall maps are from IMD.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya

Friday, August 16, 2019

5 year rainfall data of the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya from CRIS (IMD)

Rainfall day-wise over the monsoon months, for the last 10yrs have been published on this blog for some main towns of the region.
The source for the above chart is here

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, August 10, 2019

An Event of Note: #Plastic Freedom Challenge pledge in Darjeeling (08Aug2019)

Over 100 students from schools and colleges, Darjeeling Municipality and members of Zero Waste Himalaya took the #Plastic Freedom Challenge pledge led by the Executive Officer, Darjeeling Municipality Shri Samiran Mandal at the Town Hall, Darjeeling on 8 August 2019. The pledge is to take a break from using plastic items for a week August 8 - August 15 so as to step towards a more sustainable lifestyle and reducing the load on the landfill. A plastic free Independence Day celebrations was also advocated in the event.
Plastic pollution has become one of the gravest concerns the world over and also for our mountains, the situation is no different. The plastic problem is directly related to how we are and packaging our products, but also largely to the way we are living our lives. We are Producing, Consuming and Throwing plastics like never before and all of the plastics which we have thrown will remain on the planet for a long time to come. Our oceans are full of plastics, so are our rivers and streams and forests. There is plastics in our bottled water, plastics in tap water, in the salt that we eat, and also in our poop. Therefore it goes without saying that there is a need to make concerted efforts to address the issue of plastic pollution through individual actions to bring changes to our lifestyles, as well as collective actions and policies to make companies more responsible. The #PlasticFreedomChallenge (#PFC) is a yearly campaign that takes place across the 12 mountain states and calls on individuals to that the challenge to go without plastic for a week.
Independence Day is a great opportunity to Beat Plastic Pollution and to break free from plastics, especially single use plastics. #PFC runs for a week from 8 August (Zero Waste Himalaya Day) to 15 August (Independence Day) where we challenge ourselves and others to go one week without plastics. #PFC is a collective response to bring positive changes to the unhealthy and unsustainable lives that we are leading and is a stepping stone to journey towards more sustainable lifestyles, while influencing others to do the same. #PFC is also to mark our collective stand against companies that pollute by refusing to use their products (that are also unhealthy and toxic) for a week, and to continue it beyond.

The event had presentations on the rationale for the Plastic Freedom Challenge and need to close the tap on plastic as the only solution to the plastic pollution and the need to go beyond the narrative of dustbins, brooms, rolling down the hill and burning waste. Ajay Chettri performed his song Taarjeeiling during the event and the song ended with Darjeeling ko phor kasley sangalera laney ho(who will manage the waste of Darjeeling) which gave the queue to the pledge.
The Town Hall had exhibition and sale of sustainable products like cloth sanitary pads and menstrual cups – DLR Prerna; locally produced reusable bags from Hayden Hall and Earth and Home; bamboo toothbrushes, straws, wooden pencils and games from Tieede, bio-degradable Rakhi from Scavengers. Zero Waste Himalaya had a poster series 12 steps to zero waste that highlights simple doable steps that enables individuals to reduce their waste and move to a more sustainable lifestyle. OKC Monastery had a special poster exhibition that highlighted their initiative of a plastic free Sakha Dawa where no plastic wrapped offering and food was used in the entire rituals and festivities. The exhibition inspired and offered options to the participants of the event.

 The participants at the Zero Waste Himalaya Day were students and teachers of St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling Government College, Ghoom Jorebunglow Degree College, Municipal Boys HS, St. Teresa’s HS, Notre Dame Academy, Assembly of Gods Church School, Nepali Girl’s HS, St. Joseph’s, St. Robert’s, Municipal Girls HS.

Zero Waste Himalaya is a pan Himalayan collective of individuals, Government Organisations, CSOs, FBOs that promote principles of zero waste as the sustainable waste management paradigm. The Darjeeling event was represented these ZWH members Anugyalaya, DLR Prerna, Scavengers, Tieede, WWF-India.
Contact details of ZERO WASTE HIMALAYA
Mr Roshan Rai (DLR Prerna) -
Ms Priya Shrestha (WWF-India) -
Mr RP Gurung (ECOSS)
Mt Arpan Rai (Anugyalaya,Darj) -

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling Sikkim Himalaya