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Landslide risk from ditches after incessant rain in Darjeeling

Job of laying and checking pipes before covering up the road halted as most skilled workers have left the town
A landslide on Pankhabari road, which connects Kurseong with Siliguri, on Tuesday

Vivek Chhetri   |   Darjeeling   |   Published 29.07.20, 03:49 AM

Incessant rains in Darjeeling town bared the threat of landslides posed by dug-up stretches in many roads.

These “waterlogged drains” are a reminder of the incomplete Darjeeling drinking water project whose digging progressed at a snail’s pace in the wake of Covid-19. 

During heavy rain, stretches dug up to lay pipes may trigger landslides.

Civic officials said that the entire job of laying and checking pipes before covering up the road required skilled workers but most had left town. 

Work on the Rs 204 crore project to revamp the water distribution system in Darjeeling municipality, under the urban development ministry’s Amrut, started in August 2018.

The much-needed water project — Darjeeling needs 2 million gallons a day but gets only 8 lakh gallons — entails laying transmission lines to 23 feeder tanks and distribution lines to reach water from feeder tanks to homes. It was to finish in 30 months, but progress was tardy even before the pandemic. 

“As far as laying transmission water lines is concerned, 40 per cent is done. Only 27 per cent of distribution lines have been laid so far,” said a source.

Pipes laid also need to be checked for pressure. “If a fault is detected, pipelines are relaid. This is why some dug-up stretches are not covered with bitumen (to enable fault checks or replacements),” explained a civic official. During heavy rain, these uncovered stretches are now drains that may trigger landslides.

Foundation work for the 12 feeder tanks is done but only four steel tanks, locally fabricated, are ready. Since the work requires skilled workers, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the project hard. Now, heavy monsoon has come as a further blow. 

“Our guess is that the project won’t finish before 2022,” said a civic official.


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