Trending Vids

Devastation in Darjeeling, Rescue operations in full swing, Mamata, Rijiju visit affected areas

Mamata Banerjee at Tingling Primary school
Rescue operations are in full swing in the three sub-divisions of Darjeeling district where multiple landslides on Wednesday claimed 38 lives, washed away highways and damaged homes.
A fresh landslide occurred at Gayabari, 56 km from Darjeeling, cutting off road link between Darjeeling and Mirik, which alone had accounted for 21 deaths in Wednesday's landslides, an official of West Bengal's Disaster Management Department said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited areas in Mirik which were worst affected by landslides, met families of the victims and distributed relief and cheques.
Mamata reached the affected area taking a detour as the road was damaged by landslides.
"Visited the spot where landslide was worst. Met families of victims and those affected in the area. Handed over more cheques to families. Distributed relief and visited community centres where affected families are," Mamata said in a statement. "The 3 community kitchens are open. Met more people affected there. The Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, DG Police also visited," she said.
The Chief Minister had on Wednesday rushed to Siliguri from Murshidabad and announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the deceased in landslides.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and deputed Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju to rush to the area.
A Central team, headed by Rijiju, had visited the landslide-hit areas in Kurseong on Wednesday and took stock of the rescue and relief operations.
Rijiju, who arrived in Kurseong on Wednesday following a directive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visited relief camps in Tingling area under Kurseong sub-division where hundreds of people were rendered homeless after the disaster.
"Despite rough and hilly region and inclement weather, rescue efforts were on. It is very sad to see such catastrophic damages. So far, 38 bodies have been recovered and efforts are on to recover the remaining missing people. "We will give assistance for immediate relief and also provide help for reconstruction," he told PTI on Wednesday night.
Rijiju, along with Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia and officials of Home Ministry and NDRF, visited hospitals and met hundreds of injured people.
Immediate reliefs are being provided to all needy people, he said.
Bimal Gurung, Gorkhaland Council Chief, state government officials along with NDRF and SSB officials were accompanying the Minister.
On Thursday, the team visited Kalimpong areas.
"All efforts are being made for rescue and relief operation by combine efforts of the state and Central governments," he said.
National Disaster Response Team, Civil Defence personnel and local volunteers carried rescue work in the affected areas.
Rescue teams from the Sashastra Seema Bal and the National Disaster Management Authority have also been pressed into service.
The landslides in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong sub-divisions had caused extensive damage to NH-10 and NH-55, cutting off vital road links to the region.
Efforts were on to clear the roads to facilitate the return of the tourists to the plains.
An Army official said two task forces have been deployed in north Bengal since Wednesday evening comprising four teams each. Each composite team comprises nearly 60 soldiers including medics, engineers and signallers, he said. The teams are deployed in Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Darjeeling districts. The teams are carrying flood relief stores including boats and life jackets, the official said. PTI

Darjeeling landslide due to poor roads said Expert

Landslide in Darjeeling
Ill-planned roads and neglect of indigenous erosion-control measures in hilly areas like in Darjeeling in West Bengal cause landslides in India, an expert said on Thursday.

Incessant rains in Darjeeling hills triggered a series of landslides that have claimed at least 30 lives. The tourist spot will continue to witness "widespread and heavy" downpour in the next 48 hours.

"Widening and constructing roads in the plains is easy but in the hills it is a challenge. In the hills, there is a need for supporting and stabilising systems to protect the exposed surface of the hills due to construction," Chandan Ghosh, professor and head, Geo Hazards division, National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), told IANS.

"The harsh truth is there is a lot of haphazard construction going on without following proper guidelines and without any supporting steps post-construction," Ghosh noted.

He said water accumulation was the root cause of rock, debris and earth sliding down slopes. This is because once the hills are cut open and exposed, water gets direct entry inside and drainage becomes a problem.

"If we take care of drainage, 80 to 85 percent of landslides which we are seeing every now and then in the rainy season can be avoided. Such measures cost around 1-2 percent of the road construction process," Ghosh said.

He said countries like Japan, where around 80-85 percent of the land area was hilly, does not experience such frequent landslides.

Further, Ghosh said landslides do not happen all of a sudden.

"Locals get inkling of certain anomalies, for example, water blockage and erosion. But attention is not paid to them," he said.

Given that the Himalayas is prone to landslides, Ghosh called for more vulnerability mapping of potential landslides locations and adoption of ground modification strategies like growing Vetiver grass, which is famed for its erosion-hedging properties.

"You cut the slope, you grow this grass, it stops erosion and tackles drainage issues. More than 100 countries have taken this grass from us. I have been trying to promote the use of this grass in Darjeeling for the last five years but unfortunately it is not being done," he lamented.

Vetiver grass has been used for centuries in south India and is known to be an important tool to reduce erosion (by up to 90 percent) and reduce and conserve rainfall runoff (by as much as 70 percent).

Inside Tingling Primary School, there is only the uncertainty of the future

Children eat food at landslide relief camp opened at Tingling Primary School near Mirik
Tingling Primary School is situated on a picturesque hilltop with a lush tea garden surrounding the two-storied building. Inside the school, there is only the uncertainty of the future.
All the residents of Limbu Gaon, which was worst-affected by the Wednesday morning landslide, have taken shelter at this temporary relief camp. While the school in Singubli tea garden operates from the ground floor, there is a hall on the top floor.

Archala Thapa, who was sitting on the floor covered with only tarpaulin sheets, was worried about her five-year-old son Suhant's education.
"He used to study at Marigold School. The school was run by Subash Allay and his daughters Soney Allay (Thapa) and Sushma Allay (Thapa). All of them have died (in the landslide). I don't know where to send my son," said Archala.
Marigold is an English-medium school with classes up to IV and according to Archala, around 50 children study there.
The killer landslide not only swept away the Allay family, including his wife Bhagimaya, but also the dream of Archala, who works in the garden.
As is the practice elsewhere in the hills, most people even in villages dream of sending their kids to English- medium schools.
In another room, Maya Sharma wants to perform the last rites of her family members but in the cramped school, there is no space.
Eleven people in Maya's family - father Ram Lal Sharma, brothers Krishna Prasad Sharma and Mahesh Sharma (Subedi), and the siblings' wives and children - have died or are missing in the landslide at Limbu Gaon.
Maya and four of her sisters, Kumari, Laxmi, Manisha and Sanjana, are married.
"Eleven people from my family are not with us. While my father and four other members have not yet been found, the bodies of six persons were recovered. We have to start the last rites, but we are at a loss how to go about performing them in this place," said Maya.
According to Nepali Hindu tradition, the son has to be confined to a place for 13 days and he cannot touch any of the family members. The son also has to cook his own food for 13 days.
"Since both my brothers have died, we sisters want to conduct the last rites," said Maya.
In another room, Mamata Thapa, 34, is spending the night with her 21-month-old daughter Priyana.
"We just have a tarpaulin sheet over the cement floor. We all need mattresses as it's difficult to spend the night," she said.
Apart from Tingling Primary School, relief camps have been set up at the garden's hospital, crèche, tea garden office, assistant manager's bungalow and also at Soureni Community Hall.
Altogether, around 600 people are in the relief camps.(The Telegraph)

HC adjourned adjourned hearing of anticipatory bail prayers of Bimal Gurung team till July 31

Bimal Gurung  Asha Gurung
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday adjourned the hearing of anticipatory bail prayers of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, his wife Asha and 9 others in connection with the Madan Tamang murder case till July 31.
A division bench, comprising Justice Ashim Kumar Roy and Justice M M Banerjee, adjourned the hearing on the petitions on a plea by CBI for appointing a senior counsel to plead its side.
Appearing for CBI, counsel Ashraf Ali told the court that the agency wanted to appoint a senior counsel in the matter owing to its importance and sought adjournment of hearing of the anticipatory bail prayers.
The bench also directed CBI to produce relevant portions of case diary, which is made up of 15 volumes, before the court on the next date of hearing.
In a temporary relief to Gurung, his wife Asha, GJM MLA Harka Bahadur Chettri and eight others, the division bench had on June 16 directed CBI not to arrest them till disposal of their anticipatory bail petitions.
All of them have been charge-sheeted before a city court by CBI in connection with the investigation into the murder of All India Gorkha League president Madan Tamang who was hacked to death in Darjeeling town on May 21, 2010.
The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's court had on June six issued warrants of arrest against Gurung, his wife, Chettri and 20 others in connection with the murder case.
The court had directed the investigating agency to file a report on the execution of the order on June 26.
Following this, Gurung and 10 others moved anticipatory bail applications before the Calcutta High Court.
CBI had on May 29 filed a charge sheet against the GJM leaders levelling charges of murder and criminal conspiracy in the Tamang case.
The investigating agency had filed the final supplementary charge sheet before the court against Gurung, who is also chief of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), Asha, GJM MLA from Kalimpong Harkabahadur Chettri, GJM Assistant General Secretary Binoy Tamang, GTA Chairman Pradeep Pradhan, Deputy Chief Executive of GTA Col Ramesh Allay (Retd) and 17 others for criminal conspiracy, murder and other charges.
Prime accused in the case Nickol Tamang had disappeared mysteriously from Pintail village near Siliguri, where he was being held by state CID on August 21, 2010 for interrogation following his arrest.
CBI had later taken over the investigation following an order of the high court. PTI

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee visits landslide-affected areas in Darjeeling

West Bengal CM Mamata BanerjeeWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said she was travelling by road to the worst affected areas of landslide-hit Darjeeling district that claimed 29 lives.

Ms Banerjee said, ‘I started early this morning by road to reach the spot which was affected most by landslide. A road journey of normally one hour is taking six hours because of rubble caused by landslide.

Three villages have been particularly affected. Community kitchens have been set up for hundreds of people, she tweeted.

The CM reached here last night and took updates from the local administration about the extent of rescue work in Mirik, Kalimpong and other areas in Darjeeling district.

After reaching Siliguri last night, Ms Banerjee said 99 per cent of rescue work was complete. She said the state administration was working round-the-clock to complete all procedures to hand over the bodies to their families for the last rites for which assistance is being provided by the local administration.

She also focused upon the plains, where vast areas in Jalpaiguri district have been inundated due to sudden rise in water level in all major rivers. More 2,000 people have been rescued to safer place, she said.

Rescue and search operations to find out the survivors continued for the 2nd day today. The Darjeeling Disaster Management Group said whilst 29 bodies had been recovered till last night, 12 people remained missing after the landslides hit in the wee hours yesterday.

Two ‘Task Forces’ of the Army have been deployed in North Bengal since last evening consisting of 4 teams each. Each composite team comprises of nearly 60 soldiers, including medicos, engineers and signalers, defence sources here said.

The teams were deployed in Jalpaiguri district’s Mainaguri Block at Matia Chor and Uttar Padmavati including Mal Bazaar sub division. The teams are carrying flood relief stores including boats and life jackets.

Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju reached Darjeeling last night to assess the damage. This morning he reached Kalimpong where six bodies have so far been recovered. He said another Central team would visit Darjeeling to take take stock of the situation.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced an ex-gratia for those affected and had said Mr Rijiju would visit the devastated areas.

Ms Banerjee had announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the families of those killed, while Mr Modi and GJM chief Bimal Gurung declared a relief of Rs 2 lakh each for these families. – UNI

Following Modi directive, Kiren Rijiju,SS Ahluwalia visits kalimpong gumbadara Gitdabling

Following Modi directive, Kiren Rijiju,SS Ahluwalia visits kalimpong gumbadara Gitdabling
Following a directive from Hon'ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, Minister of State for Home Shri Kiren Rijiju and Darjeeling Member of Parliament Shri SS Ahluwalia reached Kalimpong.

In Kalimpong remote villages of Gumbadara and Gitdabling still has no access for relief materials as road conditions are very bad and many foot bridges connecting these areas have been swept away.

Kagay Gram Panchyat,Block - II Algarah and Lava Lingsey in Kalimpong has has been completely cut-off as landslide has swept away the only road access to these areas.

The road conditions of Teesta Valley ( road connecting to Sikkim), Singla Road connecting to Sikkim( below Singamari) and Glenburn Tea Estate have been fully damaged because of the torrential rains.

Source: Bimal Gurung Official

Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia, Bimal Gurung Visits Mirik landslide victims

Binoy Tamang, SS Ahluwalia Bimal Gurung in Mirik
The Minister of State for Home Mr. Kiran Rijju arrived in Darjeeling yesterday night, and along with Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia and GTA Chief Bimal Gurung Official visited Mirik to take stock of the situation.

A series of landslides triggered by overnight heavy rain has left at least 38 people dead, 23 missing and more than 500 displaced.

According to officials in the state disaster management department, 22 deaths occurred in Mirik, where 13 people were also reported missing. The remaining 17 died in Kalimpong, Lava, Sukhia and Gorubathan areas, they said. Twenty persons were reported injured and 15 missing at 8 Mile and 11 Mile areas in Kalimpong, sources said, adding that extensive damage has occurred to NH-10 and NH-55.

The MoS arrived in Darjeleing following instructions from PM Modi, and went straight to visit Tingling the worse hit village in the Mirik region. The Minister interacted with the family members of the deceased and promised to speed up relief efforts.

Taking a non-confrontational stand with the Bengal government, he stated tated the Central Government will have to work with the state authorities.

“Our precedence is to make greatest rescue operation. We have to work with the State Government,” Rijiju said.

Meanwhile Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is expected to arrive in Dajreeling today.

[Pic: Vikram Rai for TheDC]

CBI failed to Produce Madan Tamang Murder Case Diary in HC saying Xerox machine out of order

CBI failed to Produce Madan Tamang Murder Case Diary  in Calcutta High Court
The CBI today failed to produce in Calcutta High Court a photocopy of the case diary in the Madan Tamang murder case saying the Xerox machine at the agency's Salt Lake office was out of order, prompting the judges to express surprise.

"Is that so? This court had ordered the investigating agency to produce the photocopy of the case diary two weeks ago. The photocopy machine of such an important agency has been out of order for so many days? Why did the agency not try to make photocopies from another place?" asked Justice Ashim Kumar Roy, the senior judge on the division bench.

The bench of Justices Roy and M.M. Banerjee was hearing the anticipatory bail prayers of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung, who recently met Mamata Banerjee and visited Delhi, and 22 other leaders and workers of the hill party in the murder case of ABGL leader Tamang. They have been named in the CBI chargesheet.

Advocate Ashraf Ali, the counsel representing the CBI, told the court that the agency did not make photocopies from outside the office to maintain secrecy of the documents.

"Then do one thing. Produce the original case diary in court tomorrow. We will make photocopies of the relevant pages in the high court. Before hearing the prayers made by the petitioners, we want to see the case diary," Justice Roy said.

The CBI lawyer then requested the court to adjourn the case as his client wanted to engage a senior lawyer from Delhi.

Justice Roy said: "If your client wants to engage a senior lawyer, then we have nothing to say. But you will have to produce the original case diary before this court at 2pm tomorrow."

CBI sources said the agency had no other alternative but to try and buy time since the legal cell at its headquarters in Delhi was keen on engaging a senior lawyer instead of the Calcutta-empanelled ones representing it.

CBI officers said the agency's office in Salt Lake's CGO Complex had only one photocopier and it was lying defunct for a few days.

"A case diary is at least 500 pages. And it's not just the diary. You need to submit other documents along with it in court," an officer said. "We couldn't risk getting the documents photocopied from outside."

In response to an earlier order of the bench, the CBI today produced a copy of the comprehensive report on its investigation into the Tamang murder case. The agency had earlier submitted the document to the Supreme Court.

In the report, the CBI had filed a copy of the final chargesheet, which it submitted to Bankshall Court in Calcutta.

After going through the comprehensive report, Justice Roy asked the CBI lawyer: "In your chargesheet, you have prayed before the trial court to summon the accused persons under non-bailable charges. At the time of summoning the accused, how can you say whether the accused should be called under bailable or non-bailable sections? It is the discretion of the court whether it would issue arrest warrants against the accused or not."

The CBI counsel said a reply would be furnished during later hearings.

Source; Telegraph