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regular-article-logo Friday, 23 February 2024

Link to Lachen in north Sikkim restored as Indian Army installs Bailey bridge

On October 4, a flash flood in the Teesta had devastated various parts of Sikkim, including the Mangan district in the north. The swollen river swept away a number of bridges, along with other installations

Avijit Sinha Siliguri Published 30.11.23, 09:34 AM
The newly built Bailey bridge over the Zema Chu in north Sikkim

The newly built Bailey bridge over the Zema Chu in north Sikkim Sourced by The Telegraph

The road connectivity to Lachen, a tourist hotspot in north Sikkim, was restored on Tuesday after a gap of almost two months as the Indian army installed a Bailey bridge over a stream.

The Sikkim government has decided to allow tourists to visit Lachung and Yumthang, which are in the north of the Himalayan state, from Friday.

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On October 4, a flash flood in the Teesta had devastated various parts of Sikkim, including the Mangan district in the north. The swollen river swept away a number of bridges, along with other installations. The road connectivity between Chunthang — from where roads lead to Lachen and Lachung — and Mangan, the district headquarters, had snapped.

After the disaster, the Indian Army, along with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) which functions under the defence ministry, started the work to install Bailey bridges.

Such bridges were laid to connect Chungthang and some other areas. “However, Lachen continued to remain cut off as the bridge over the Zema Chu stream was also washed away,” said a source.

This made the army plan to lay a Bailey bridge over the Zema Chu. The engineering regiment of the army’s Trishakti Corps, which is headquartered at Sukna (on the outskirts of Siliguri), along with the BRO, started the work and the Bailey bridge was opened for traffic on Tuesday.

“Now, the entire Lachen area, which was cut off for almost two months, is connected with the rest of the state. The bridge will help reestablish seamless movement of vehicles and provision of relief material to Lachen, The Trishakti Sappers, along with the BRO, took three days to install the bridge,” said a source in the army.

The bridge, sources said, is 100 feet long.

On Wednesday, the Sikkim government announced that for the first time after the GLOF (glacial lake outburst flood), destinations like Lachung and Yumthang would be opened for tourists from December 1.

Last week, the state tourism and civil aviation department issued an advisory, saying barring north Sikkim, tourist destinations in the remaining five districts of the state are open and tourists can visit any of these places.

Hem Kumar Chhetri, the district collector of Mangan, issued a notice on Wednesday, saying tourists could visit Lachen and Chungthang on December 1.

“Tourist vehicles will move in convoys on Sangkalang-Toong-Chungthang Road. No tourist vehicle will be allowed to move along the road after 4pm. The Lachen-Gurudongmar Lake route, however, will continue to be closed for tourists till further notice,” said a source.

Chhetri also said in case of any exigency, local representatives of TAAS (Travel Agents Association of Sikkim) and the state tourism and civil aviation department would provide necessary assistance.

Tourism stakeholders have welcomed the decision.

“It is an important decision during the winter season as hundreds visit Sikkim to enjoy snowfall. Lachung and Yumthang are popular destinations and we believe tourists will start visiting these places. The move will also help the tourism sector in Sikkim as it has taken a beating in the past one-and-a-half months because of the flash flood,” said Samrat Sanyal, the general secretary of the Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network.

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