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Monsoon fury spurs fear of relocation

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By RAJEEV RAVIDAS in Kalimpong
  • Published 8.09.09

Kalimpong, Sept. 7: The damage caused by the monsoon to Chibbo busti and its adjoining areas on the outskirts of the town has raised fear of relocation among its 10,000-odd residents.

The entire area from Durpin on the top to Poshyor below has turned into a sinking zone, thanks to the rains. The heavy downpour of August 15 and 19 in particular caused major damage in the area.

In fact, the road link to both Upper and Lower Chibbo villages has been snapped since the night of August 19. It will take months to restore the link as a huge portion of the road has been washed away by a landslide at Upper Chibbo. Three vehicles have been stuck in the village since then. The local people have erected a makeshift bamboo bridge that can only be crossed on foot. Chibbo though is not a remote village but almost a suburb and adjoins Wards 17 and 19 of the municipality.

So alarmed are the people of the area that recently they formed the Chibbo Protection and Monitoring Committee (CPMC) to spread awareness about their plight. “The entire area is sinking. We either have to leave and relocate elsewhere or the government must put in place a comprehensive plan to save the area from impending doom,” said Suren Pandey, the CPMC spokesperson.

The CPMC has also joined hands with Save The Hills, a local NGO engaged in espousing the landslide issue, to help project their case to the world, including the government agencies. “If we don’t act now, we will be perished. It is not only Chibbo which is under threat, but also the adjoining areas like Wards 17 and 19, Tanekbusti, Poshyor, 3 Mile and 4 Mile,” said Pandey.

Praful Rao, the NGO president, has admitted that the entire western face of the town has become very unstable. “A combination of various factors like lack of proper drainage and anthropogenic causes have accelerated the degeneration to an alarming rate where if no long-term solution is sought, the prospect of relocating everyone in Chibbo-Poshyor becomes very real,” he said.

Bengal home secretary Ardhendu Sen, who was here on August 27, stressed the need for a thorough study on the hills before a master plan is prepared to battle landslides. “We will have to identify an agency which can do the job and take the help of engineering colleges and universities,” Sen had said in a meeting with the NGO and senior officials.

Today, Rao echoed Sen. A comprehensive study of the area was needed to find a long-term solution to the problem, he said.“I know this will require time and money, but half-hearted and piecemeal actions in the present situation will be of no help.”