Saturday, August 22, 2009

4000 bear landslide brunt in Sikkim & Darjeeling hills

-Tarpaulins & Food items distributed, 700 houses damaged in Kalimpong

Kalimpong, Aug. 21: Over 4,000 people were affected and about 700 houses were damaged by the hundreds of landslides that hit the subdivision on Wednesday night.

The figures are preliminary and the final tally is expected to go up. Subdivisional relief officer R.P. Sharma said the worst hit was Block I among the three where 164 houses were fully damaged and 393 suffered partial damage. Block II was the least affected with nine fully damaged and 16 partially damaged houses.

The Kalimpong Municipality area also suffered extensively with 20 fully damaged and 285 partially damaged houses. In far-flung Block III that borders the Dooars, 40 houses were destroyed completely and 101 partly.

The relief office, however, is yet to receive detailed information on the loss incurred apart from Block III where 90 hectares of land was destroyed and crops worth Rs 27.5 lakh lost.

“The landslides occurred at a number of places,” said Sharma. Given the large number of landslides that occurred across the subdivision, it was no surprise that the roads were badly hit. In the municipal area, only a few roads were spared. Rinkingpong Road, East Main Road, B.L. Dixit Road, Upper Cart Road, Bong Church Road, Rickshaw Road, — all were affected by the landslides.

The story was the same in the rural areas. Mahakalal Dara Road, Gokule-Deorali Road, Samthar-Yangmakum Road and Nimbong-Charkhol Road were blocked by the landslides. In fact, 24 DGHC constituency — comprising Kafer, Nimbong and Suruk-Samthar villages — has been completely cut off.

The relief officer said the administration distributed 650 tarpaulins, food items and money to the landslide-hit people yesterday, and more relief would be distributed over the next few days. “We will also provide blankets and, if necessary, even cooked food to the victims,” he added. However, barring a handful of families, most people have preferred to shift to their neighbours and relatives as opposed to moving to the relief shelters set up by the administration.

Praful Rao, the president of Save The Hills, an NGO, said the havoc caused by the landslides was really scaring. “What is frightening is that a single day’s rain can cause so much damage. If we don’t heed the warnings (of the nature), I am afraid, our survival in the hills will be at stake,” said Rao