Monday, June 18, 2007

AmdoGolai Landslide seals bypass again

PHOTO:The spot where the second landslip occurred
Gangtok, June 17: Hours after Indira Bypass was opened for the passage of light vehicles, a boulder perched atop Amdo Golai came crashing down yesterday afternoon sealing the route once again.
The fresh landslip has further endangered five buildings that are located above the bypass. Earlier, on Wednesday, a part of a rocky hill located next to the traffic point at Amdo Golai had come tumbling down, leaving the bypass under 100 feet of earth and rubble. A traffic policeman, who was on duty at the intersection of the bypass and NH 31A, escaped miraculously with a fractured leg.
On that day itself, the residents of the five buildings — one of them is owned by Pratap Tiwari, the additional secretary of the buildings and housing department — had been evacuated.
The 7-km Indira Bypass begins at Amdo Golai in Tadong, 2 km from here, and ends at Penengla, connecting NH 31A to the North Sikkim highway.
After yesterday’s landslip, large cracks have developed in Tiwari’s house and the building has tilted to one side. The East district administration yesterday issued orders to dismantle parts of the building. For this, a no-objection certificate had been first sought from Tiwari.
Additional district collector (East) Naveen Chettri said removing parts of the building would help ease the load on the earth below the structure. “Chances are that if this building collapses, it will pull down with it the other houses. Labourers from Border Roads Organisation (BRO) have been engaged for the job,” Chettri said.
The BRO, which maintains the bypass, has been removing debris manually as well as by using gelatine sticks to crack the boulders and the big rocks from Wednesday itself. It had almost cleared the route for the movement of lighter vehicles when the second landslip occurred.
Huge cracks have also developed on the rock that has been holding the earth below the buildings.
Personnel from the police and departments of urban development, buildings and housing and the irrigation and flood control have been engaged to take up protective measures. They have already diverted the drains so that water flowing through them did not seep in into the area and weaken the soil.
Sikkim urban development and land revenue minister D.D. Bhutia, along with senior state government and district officials, visited the site last evening to take stock of the situation.