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Nature's fury continues unabated - Slides & cave-ins ravage hills

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  • Published 13.09.07

Location I: Gumbahatta, H.D. Pradhan Road (Kalimpong Municipality area). A big crack has appeared on the road. If the road caves in, lives of hundreds of families living both above and below it will be at risk.

Location II: Sangsey Phatak near Deolo hill. The entire hill has started sliding down. Huge cracks have appeared on the hillside, putting at risk the villages of Dalapchand and Ecchey as well as the adjacent areas.

These were some of the sights that greeted the team comprising four concerned residents of Kalimpong who toured the subdivision on Tuesday. The Telegraph was a party to the recce, which was organised by Kalimpong Consumers’ Association (KCA).

The team felt that the damages caused by a succession of landslides in Kalimpong this year is greater than the devastation wreaked by the rain in 1968.

“The rain-induced devastation of 1968 got magnified manifold after the overflowing waters of the Teesta swept away the bridge over it (at Teesta Bazar, 16km from Kalimpong town). However, by the looks of it, the spread of damage is much greater this time,” said Bharat Mani Pradhan, the Rotary Club representative in the team.

The damages were there for everyone to see. Between Chitrey and 27th Mile, a distance of about 10km, as many as five big slides have occurred during the course of this monsoon. The situation is no better on Reshi Road, which connects the Kalimpong town with Algarah to the north-east. At 14th Mile, about 25m of the road has sunk. At 11th Mile, which is within the municipality area, a long crack has developed right at the centre of the road.

The Deolo-Dalapchand Road, which runs parallel to Reshi Road, but on a higher gradient, is also sinking at many places. Villagers residing on the hill slope between the two roads are threatened. Tirpai-Homes Road has also developed cracks, putting in danger the residents of Saipatrigoan near Tirpai. The area has about 150 houses.

“We have been spending our nights at the market complex in Topkhana because the hill on which our houses are built has become very unstable. Apart from plastic sheets and rice, the administration has provided us with very little relief,” said Raju Chettri, an affected resident.

Given the gravity of the situation, the KCA has decided to send SOS to all officials. “We are through with our report on what we believe is an alarming situation and will be posting them to all authorities concerned within the next couple of days,” said Praful Rao, the association’s secretary.

The report, among other things, suggests carrying out a detailed study on the drainage system in both the urban and rural areas of the subdivision, besides broadening of the existing drains and ensuring their proper maintenance. It also recommends clearing the jhoras or local streams.

“We also suggest that the practice of planting bamboo plants to bind the soil must be done away with immediately since they don’t seem to hold the soil together. On the contrary, what was noticed is that the heavy weight of the tall grass causes the soil to slip,” said Wangchuck Basi, another member of the team.

The fourth member of the team was KCA president N.P. Dixit.