Monday, August 27, 2007



GANGTOK, August 26: In what can be termed as a repeat performance of the flash flood at Dzongu last week, the Lachen Chu River in North Sikkim suddenly flooded yesterday, causing much panic amongst the residents of the area.
According to preliminary reports reaching here, two bailey bridges across the Zemu River were washed away yesterday afternoon near the Zema village in North Sikkim after a landslide presumably triggered a flash flood.
Reports indicate that a sudden rise in the water levels of the Green Lake, part of the Zemu Glacier, which feeds into the Zemu Chu, one of the major tributaries of the Teesta River could have led to a flash flood that triggered the landslide. The landslide displaced a formation of boulders along the River creating a huge torrent, carrying with it large number of boulders and debris.
Two bridges towards the lower end of the Zemu Chu, which meets the Teesta River at the Zema Village, were washed away by the torrent. The incident happened between 4:30 to 5 pm in the evening, said North District officials have said. The said bridges, maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, are the main lifelines for the people residing in areas like Zema and Muguthang in North Sikkim.
No causalities have been so far reported.
The surging river, which then passes through the Lachen village, from where it is called the Lachen Chu, brought down with its huge amounts of boulders and debris, caused major panic amongst the villages downstream of the River. Residents of Lachen Village recalled hearing a loud roar which was followed by the sudden surge of the River, which cascaded down carrying with it boulders and debris. The River passes through a narrow gorge below the Lachen River.
The people had been warned by the authorities not to venture near the river till the flood ebbed. The level at Teesta River had increased by a minor margin of 10 to 15 cm.
Meanwhile, the State Police yesterday alerted the people residing near the banks of River Teesta including Dikchu, Singtam, Rangpo and Melli.
Meanwhile, rumours that the Teesta Stage V dam at Dikchu had been damaged by the flood quickly spread yesterday, causing panic amongst the people residing in lower areas like Singtam and Rangpo.
Later the residents breathed a sigh of relief when the water level subsided to the normal level.
Talking to journalists, the District Collector (North), TN Kazi, informed that a high alert has been sounded in the entire region along the course of the Teesta River. Hydel Power Projects on the Teesta, especially Teesta Power Project Stage V, have been put on high alert. The authorities in the Darjeeling Hills, especially the District Collector and Superintendent of Police of Darjeeling, have also been informed of the incident.
The District Collector (East), Vishal Chauhan summoned an emergency meeting the same evening with the Superintendent of Police, East and the members of Civil Defence here in Gangtok.
Officials of the Teesta Low Dams at 27th Mile Rambhi and Kalijhora in West Bengal have already shifted their important documents and machines to safer places.
A month earlier, property worth Rs 100 crore of the Rambhi power project was washed away by the Teesta when the level of the water rose following incessant rains.
update: Following the avalanche of Jema glacier of Lachung, many bridges of North Sikkim destroyed and the river Teesa rised high and high alert sounded from Sikkim to West Bengal across the Teesta basin. Sikkim Police has given warned soon after the incident. The incident took place on August 25 at 3.30 p.m. Some of the bridges and roads were badly damaged due to avalanche and in North Sikkim. However, the level of flow of river is now come back to normalcy.