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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

Sikkim government's attempts to rescue over 1,200 tourists stuck in Lachung and Mangan, fails

Evacuation by air or road to begin today, depending on weather: Sikkim govt

Avijit Sinha Siliguri Published 16.06.24, 09:27 AM
Sikkim chief minister PS Tamang (Golay) speaks with landslide victims in Namchi district on Saturday

Sikkim chief minister PS Tamang (Golay) speaks with landslide victims in Namchi district on Saturday

Over 1,200 tourists stayed stranded in Lachung and other areas in Mangan, the flood-hit district in northern Sikkim, for the third consecutive day, as the state government's attempts to evacuate them didn't work.

On Saturday, state ministers, along with administrative officials, inspected some of the affected areas of the district to take stock of the situation and explore options on how to evacuate stranded tourists.

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“The evacuation of tourists from Lachung will begin tomorrow (Sunday) through airlifting and roadways, depending on the weather. It will be supervised by the state tourism and civil aviation minister,” said a source in the administration.

On Friday, the state approached the Indian Air Force to airlift stranded tourists.

In Mangan, a meeting was held on Saturday in the presence of Mangan-Lachen MLA Samdup Lepcha, also a state minister, along with representatives of local bodies and stakeholders of the tourism industry.

“The tourists are safe and staying in hotels. The state is taking initiatives to evacuate them,” said a hotelier in Lachung.

Also, an ex-gratia of 4 lakh was handed over to the families who had lost their near and dear ones because of the landslides and the flash flood that wreaked havoc in the north of the Himalayan state on Wednesday night and Thursday.

Six persons had died in the disaster.

“Adequate ration has been stocked in the district. Also, power and telecommunications, water supply and other essentials have been restored in most parts of the district. The ICR method (the intracircle roaming or sharing of networks of one operator with another) has also been implemented for communication for the convenience of the general public,” the source added.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which functions under the Union defence ministry, took up the task of restoring stretches of damaged roads.

According to BRO sources, the heavy rainfall led to landslides and cave-ins on a number of stretches in north Sikkim such as Dikchu-Sangklang-Toong, Mangan-Sanklang, Singtham-Rangrang and Rangrang-Toong.

“The situation turned grave as a newly constructed suspension bridge at Sangklang collapsed. The BRO has cleared around 10 kilometres of road from Toong and towards Sangklang. Also, the Gangtok-Chungthang road from Naga side has been cleared and the connectivity between Naga to Lanthakhola has been restored,” said an official.

Among the stranded are tourists from Bengal, said sources. The Kalimpong district administration has set up a tourism facilitation help desk. “We have launched two helplines — 8768095881 and 9051499096 — for stranded tourists,” an official said.

Golay visits Namchi

Sikkim chief minister P.S. Tamang (Golay), the chief minister, reached Namchi in southern Sikkim on Saturday to assess the damage caused by the rainfall in the district.

He reached Majuwa village, where three people had died and houses got damaged in an earlier landslide on June 10.

"The chief minister announced that half an acre of farmland and a house under Sikkim Garib Awas Yojana would be given to families whose houses were completely swept away, and compensation of 5 lakh to each of the families of the deceased,” said a source.

Golay also asked officials to restore the road that connects Majuwa. Later, he visited a relief camp in Yangang where 36 families were evacuated from the landslide-hit area.

“He also travelled towards Melli Bazar and inspected the damages caused by the Teesta. The irrigation department has been asked to take steps to prevent flooding in low-lying areas,” the source added.

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