Sunday, April 7, 2024

Impact of the Oct 2023 Teesta Valley GLOF on road communications - the continuing nightmare at Pedong and Toong

Map showing trouble spots at Pedong and Toong

Traffic bottle necks at PEDONG
Pedong (27.1594° N, 88.6157° E) is a small town in Kalimpong district and is nowhere near the Teesta valley yet the impact of the Oct 2023 GLOF is being felt daily by the residents of the town.
The Teesta valley GLOF reactivated a dormant landslide at Likhu Bhir which continues to pose a problem for traffic along NH10 so the Kalimpong District Administration has again closed that section of the highway for the weekend as per this travel advisory:

As a result the entire heavy vehicular traffic to / from Sikkim to the plains of North Bengal is routing thru Kalimpong and Pedong causing huge traffic jams in Pedong. The vehicles have also damaged water pipelines causing disruptions in water supply in the town and damaged other infrastructure since the roads are narrow and were never intended to handle such heavy, continuous traffic.

Traffic jam at Pedong
Likhu Bhir landslides on NH10 (Nov2023)

TOONG bridge
The bridge at Toong was vital for communications to North Sikkim and when the GLOF took it down, traffic had to be routed thru a longer and more dangerous route which we took while going to Chungthang in Nov2023.
The locals had constructed a wooden bridge over the Teesta river in Feb2024 (see below) which was being used by light vehicles.
Wooden bridge at Toong in Feb2024
However, the recent rains in the area resulted in the bridge being damaged (see video)
Since the alternate route is longer and much more cumbersome, locals at once got down to repairing the damage (see images of 06Apr2024 below)

I don't think this bridge will hold out for much longer now that the pre- monsoon showers have started over our region...which leaves us in a rather precarious position with regard to all the GLOF damaged road communications in our region - a question which I asked back in Nov2023...

                               How do we manage in the Monsoons of 2024?

My thanks to all friends and HA members from Pedong, North Sikkim who made this report possible. Please stay safe.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling Sikkim Himalaya

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