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Uttarakhand disaster worries people in Hills

Uttarakhand disaster worries people in Hills
KURSEONG, 24 JUNE: The natural disaster that has struck Uttarakhand has brought enormous sense of concern and a cause of worry to the populace of Darjeeling Sikkim Himalaya region.
Meanwhile, keeping in mind the Uttarakhand incident, the people in Darjeeling Hills are worried and hence seeking proper measures in all seriousness from the Central as well as the State Government in reducing the impact that such natural disasters can make.
A local, Mr Bhusan Chettri, said that every year heavy torrential rain in the region which has become almost predictable triggers minor and major landslides causing huge loss of property and lives.
This year too, even though the peak monsoon season is yet to arrive, several lives and destruction of properties have already been reported. But so far, no proper initiatives have been taken by the authorities concerned in reducing the impact that such natural disasters can make.
Mr Chettri said that the present tragedy that has struck Uttarakhand is immeasurable and has brought back the same type of memories that had hit Darjeeling Hills in 1968. At that point of time, unprecedented rain had caused landslides that swept several areas of Darjeeling Hills. It had led to the annihilation of hundreds of lives and immense loss of properties. Hence, the local administration should take initiatives and be ready on different aspects to curb such disaster.
Another local resident Mr Pendura Sherpa, stressed on the timely warnings to be made by the meteorological department. In such a situation, evacuation should be promptly made in places facing such risks as nature’s fury cannot be fought. It could save a lot of lives and properties.
Meanwhile, recalling the great tragedy of Darjeeling Hills of 1968, an elderly resident of Kurseong, Mr B Bomzon said that the tragedy of 1968 was a massive one. It was the year the original bridge across the Teesta River, known as the Anderson Bridge was swept away.
“I remember the next day when we had to make an official tour around the Mahananda Sanctuary, we saw bits of human fingers and hairs carried down along with the mud and debris from the high hill sides to
the Sukna plains. Heavy rain which had occurred at several points in the Hills had swept away many villages, some in entirety. When viewed from a distance the hillsides had several huge furrow marks like those made by bear claws. The worst affected were the villages in the valley regions like Gorabari, Sivitar, Jungpana, Ghumti Tea Estate, Balasun and Dudhia regions in Kurseong Sub-division."
He added: "It was in the midst of Dusshera season and family members were visiting each other from village to village when the tragedy struck. The heavy rain was incessant and while it swept away entire villages on the hill sides, the accumulated waters flooded those in the plains."
“I have memories of the talks among us, how five sisters had drowned in the flood near Jalpaiguri. As the flood waters starting rising they must have caught hold of each other. All the five bodies were reportedly recovered later, still embraced together,” said Mr Bomzon.
When asked, the GJMM spokesperson and Kalimpong MLA Mr Harka Bahadur Chettri, said: "We have already talked with the National Disaster Management Authority that one of their special units should be based in Darjeeling Hills. But the authority only prioritises floods but not landslides hence we will have to convince them that landslides are also a major natural calamity. Darjeeling hills are mainly an earthquake and landslide zone and we have to prepare ourselves and brace such natural disasters. I don’t think that Darjeeling Hills and Sikkim is a region that would face similar situation like that of Uttarakhand. The 1968 Darjeeling Hills disaster was also a major one, because of continuous rainfall that triggered landslides in many places."
“We will discuss the matter during the GTA meeting and find ways to fight such disasters if it does happen,” added Mr Chettri.
Pilgrim couple still missing

SILIGURI, 24 JUNE: A couple from Sevoke Road, Siliguri, who had gone to Uttarakhand on a pilgrimage, has remained untraced till date. The worried relatives are now waiting for their safe return. Mr Mohan Jindal (60), a trader dealing with  medicines and his wife, Mrs Mina Jindal (57), are said to have reached Uttarakhand for a pilgrimage to Kedarnath on 9 June. “Apart from them, two other relatives from Kolkata also reached Kedarnath on pilgrimage around the same time. We had last talked to them on 16 June, as they called us from Kedarnath. They sounded elated having had the darshan. Since then there has been no contact with them,” said the nephew of Mr Jindal, Mr Pradip Agarwal. sns  
statesman news service

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