Saturday, July 02, 2011


GANGTOK, July2 : A portion of the boundary wall of Government College, Tadong gave way thursday night, exposing compromised slope which is now posing danger to houses above it. The footpath between the wall and the buildings [outside the college campus] has also developed gaping cracks, the earth beneath it slipping away, a slope failure perhaps caused by the huge construction underway in the college compound.

STOP-PRESS: What had started as anxious concern reached panic desperation late friday evening when the mud caved away from below the boundary wall, setting in motion what everyone is convinced, is an accelerated slope failure which has multiplied the sinking area’s potential for destruction.

The SDM [East], AB Karki, AE, HRDD, Mahesh Chettri, AE, Sewerage, PHE, Tenzing Lamtha, surveyed the spot this afternoon. The danger posed to houses here is obvious and the site was also visited earlier in the day by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor along with officials from the Power & Energy Department, UD&HD and PHE.
The houses that suffer the greatest danger are of Geeta Niroula, Bharat Basista and Pemba along with the houses of RP Thatal, Chabilal Lakhey, and BT Tikhatri.
As an immediate preventive measure, the SDM directed that a temporary drainage be made to carry surface run-off away from the construction site below. Since a retaining wall, from the construction site to the boundary wall, will not be feasible for the present weather conditions, the SDM has directed that the slope be reinforced with “sandbag benching” of adequate strength to last the monsoons. The sewage line here is also be diverted to skirt the affected sections.
The SDM further informed that the district authorities will also be conferring with the line departments on the situation.
The water supply pipes to the Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences further down the slope also run through this area and supply was cut off for a few hours today. The slip has also left the electricity poles in the area vulnerable and power supply was cut off for most part of the day. Although power supply was resumed later in the evening, it was off again at night, perhaps as a precautionary measure.
Interestingly, the residents of the area blame the boundary wall for their imperiled situation. This boundary wall was erected to keep out people from surrounding areas to use the college road, but ended up ruining the existing drainage in the area.
This might be only partially correct because the obvious culprit in this case is the massive construction which has begun below without any protective walls to reinforce the already unstable slope above.
Directly below the sinking area which has residents worried is a huge construction of the college hostels – two buildings of 40 posts each. No attempt has been made to construct the retaining wall recommended for the slope above before the construction commenced.
This construction began three months back. It is learnt that the Department was apprehensive about this project since the slope is made up of loose soil, probably dumped earth from the time when the campus was made. Engineers had recommended that a protective wall be erected before construction was started at the toe of this slope. This advice was overlooked because it would have delayed actual construction from starting and if it did not start as it did three months back, the project would have had to wait out the monsoons.
Officials also informed that the site was inspected by officials from the Geological Survey of India and found stable enough for construction. They add that the protective wall option was deferred for later because the area had no history of sinking. Well, a fortnight into the monsoons, and history is being made here.
There is a provision of a permanent protective wall included in the construction of hostel, informed an HRDD official. It is obviously rather late in the day to begin work on it now.
As a result, it is not only the slope above which had been destabilized, but even the staff quarters directly below the construction site are now springing leaks because of the amateurish drainage above it. There is work underway to carve out a better drainage, but until that happens, the situation will remain dicey for the entire stretch.
The residents also complain that a few weeks ago they had complained to DC office about the threat posed to their houses due to the manner in which the construction below was being undertaken. No follow-up action was taken at that time, and now the people stare at a collapsed boundary wall, sinking footpaths and have only yards of plastic sheets to save the slope.

(Now Daily)

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