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Rain and rolling boulders hit hills

Gangtok, July 26: Fresh landslides coupled with lashing rain in the past 24 hours have made restoration work on roads almost impossible in Sikkim.

While large stretches of West and South districts remained inaccessible from the previous week’s mudslips, traffic movement on NH31A was interrupted today because of debris that rolled down the mountainside between Rangpo and Singtam at 20th Mile near Bardang, 30km from here.

Though small vehicles were allowed to pass through in the morning, the movement was stopped altogether a few hours later.

Major state highways around Gyalshing, the West Sikkim headquarters, remain blocked. The district has been the worst hit with acute shortage of water supply because of damaged pipelines.

The Legship-Tashiding road is still closed with some 30m of the stretch having been washed away in last week’s slide. So are the Yuksom-Tashiding, Rimbi-Khecheopalri-Yuksom, Darap-Nambu and Pelling-Dentam roads. The district collector (West), Nitesh Jha, and senior officials have already visited the sites several times.

“Landslides between Gyalshing and Pelling have affected the water supply in Gyalshing, Tikjuk, Pelling and Rabdentse. It is likely to be restored in the next few days,” said Jha.

The district administration has asked the petrol pumps in Gyalshing and Legship to maintain buffer stocks. Drivers have been told to get fuel coupons from Gyalshing police.

“We have only 1,500 litres of petrol with us. Supply will be hampered if it continues to rain like this,” said Jigme Bhutia, the district planning officer. Each taxi is being permitted 10 litre a day.

In Rabongla, a subdivisional town in South Sikkim, 26 houses were reported damaged. The families have been shifted to safer locations. District collector (south) D. Anandan has visited the affected villages.

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