Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Photographic record of the impact of 04Oct2023 GLOF at Melli bazar and its vicinity -13Nov2023

Melli (27 05 24.2 N 88 27 29.6 E) Elev 232.9m, is a place which straddles the Teesta river. In South Sikkim, it is a small town, whereas in W Bengal (Kalimpong district) it is a transit place on NH10, Kalimpong district ,W Bengal.
We visited Melli during our survey of Teesta bazar on 10Oct2023 but could not access Melli (Sikkim) because the road from the bridge to the Melli town was closed to traffic.
On 13Nov2023, more than a month after the GLOF event I could make it to Melli town (Sikkim) with Prof Malay Mukul (Dept of Earth Sciences, IIT Bombay). Malay is from Kalimpong and was on a brief vacation here. These are some images from our visit on 10Oct2023:
Drone image (by Praveen) of the Melli ground  and stadium with the Teesta river nudging the edges of the complex.
Shredded parts of NH10 with a view of Melli town (Sikkim) from the opposite bank.
An excavator had started removing sand and sludge from the stadium on 10Oct2023.

Images from our visit on 13Nov2023 to Melli.
A dumper at the Melli ground belonging to SML company had been excavated along with the first floor of the several buildings at the rear.
The wreckage of another vehicle lay at the edge of the Melli stadium. Excavation of the sand, debris and sludge was continuing but seemed a humongous task considering the almost 10-15feet of sand that was dumped everywhere. Prof Malay Mukul can be seen in the background taking some readings.
Another view of the Melli stadium with buried vehicles strewn all over. Notice how close the river had come to the main town during the GLOF. In the distance and across the river is the IRCON railway tunnel.
This was the area which was most affected in Melli town (Sikkim) by the GLOF event.
A sombre Milan Gurung (48yrs) stands at his home near the Melli stadium with the Teesta river lapping up the edges of what used to be his front yard. He told us that 3 new vehicles from SML company were swept away here along with a large liquor storehouse.
He squarely blames the inundation of his home on the dumping of excavated tunnel material on the opposite bank by the IRCON project. He says the river first hit the huge IRCON debris on the opposite bank and rebounded from it, to flood his home and 10 houses around the stadium.
Milan Gurung told us the river was never so close to his home earlier and was fearful about living here now.
Debris at the opposite end of the stadium.
Residents of this area said the sewage treatment plant of Melli town was located here and it was either swept away or buried.
Dangerously poised GLOF affected buildings on the W Bengal side of Melli Bazar.
The problem is that there are so many weakened structures like these, everywhere with the river nibbling away at the base.

Images of Tribeni (at the junction of Rangeet and Teesta rivers)

Image of the GTA Covid Hospital at Tribeni on 10Oct2023.
Image of the GTA Covid Hospital at Tribeni on 13Nov2023.
Rangeet river water is distinctly green whereas that of the Teesta is still laden with silt and brown.
Road to GTA Covid Hospital at Tribeni on 13Nov2023
A large section of road (approx 300m) from Teesta bazar  to the GTA Covid Hospital at Tribeni is still submerged - with the river having regained its lost territory.
The river submerges the road here (27 04 6.8 N 88 25 39.7 E) just 10 mins walk from the Teesta bazar. Sadly, this place has now become a dumping ground for solid waste.

The road remains under water for a long time until it reaches here (27 04 14.4 N 88 25 49.2 E) where it climbs out of the river.

My thanks to Prof Malay Mukul for taking time off to visit these places. I will update his inputs in a separate blogpost.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

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