The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Slides snap road links in hill state

Gangtok, July 16: A series of landslides has hit East and North Sikkim over the past few days, as monsoon takes its toll on roads and houses.

However, no casualties have been reported so far.

National Highway 31A remained blocked for several hours this morning at 20 Mile between Singtam and Rangpo after mud and slush from a landslide zone above collected on the road.

“We cleared the debris by 11am, after which the highway was opened to traffic,” said A.K. Singh, the assistant executive engineer of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

NH 31A connects Gangtok to the rest of the country.

Two more landslides have cut off the Singtam-Dikchu road in East Sikkim. Chungthang in North Sikkim also remains inaccessible following a landslide on the road connecting the subdivisional town to Mangan, the district headquarters.

In Gangtok, around 25 families have been evacuated from Upper Chandmari because of a landslide just below Ganesh Tok. Two houses in the area have been declared unsafe. The affected families have been shifted to relief camps set up at the panchayat office, Enchey School and the Doordarshan complex.

The district administration has been sending them relief material.

The Ganesh Tok shrine, a popular tourist attraction, is also in danger of being washed away.

A 100m stretch of the Indira bypass between Manbir Colony and the civil helipad at Lower Sichey has caved in and repairs may take days, said engineers working at the site.

The road has been closed to traffic since last month when a landslide blocked the starting point at Amdo Golai in Tadong. A big boulder is still precariously perched above the road and several houses near the top of the landslide zone are in danger of collapsing.

BRO officials said they have managed to partially dismantle some of the houses.

“We have also cleared the unsupported rocks and boulders since they could have posed danger to passers by,” said Singh.

The assistant executive engineer added that the BRO was examining the damage to the bypass to decide on the remedial measures.

The bypass is used to divert heavy vehicles away from the capital. Vehicles belonging to the army and the BRO use this road while heading for defence establishments in the border areas of North district.

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