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Limbu Gaon Tingling landslide villagers want to shift in safer places

dead body in Limbu Gaon Tingling landslides in mirik darjeeling
Residents of Limbu Gaon in Tingling, who had a close encounter with death as soil and boulders rolled down the hill slopes and hit their friends and families, do not want to go back to the village.

After 19 villagers were swept away by a landslide - 15 bodies have been recovered and four persons are missing - in members of<>the 80-odd families who had been staying in the village, want to shift to safer places.

Apart from the killer landslide, there have been at least three other major landslips and a number of minor ones in Limbu Gaon in the past couple of days.

Tika Ram Sharma, a tea garden worker, said: "We all want to shift. The monsoon has just started and the landslides have hit our village. We are living in constant fear and that will continue if we are not shifted."

At Tingling Primary School where 604 residents of Limbu Gaon and Pipli Bhoota (another village in Tingling) have been staying since the landslides, almost every one wants to relocate.

Residents of Soureni and Phuguri tea gardens nearby are also scared and they do not want to stay in their houses.

"We are lucky to be alive today. On Wednesday night, four of us from the village went to the Mirik-Siliguri road and diverted water that had entered this part of Limbu Gaon. Although there was a landslide in the area, it did not wash away the houses," said Sharma whose house is about 300m from the spot of the killer landslide.

This morning, Sharma along with Yogesh Chhetri, Diwash Sharma and Tula Ram Sharma, all from Limbu Gaon, were seen going around the area trying to divert water by making drains.

Roshan Giri, executive GTA Sabha member, visited Tingling Primary School today along with Kurseong MLA Rohit Sharma. "There is a need to set up new colonies now. Our elected GTA Sabha member, Arun Sigchi, is talking to the tea garden management (of Singbuli) about the issue. I have been told that the management has agreed to provide alternative land (for the affected people). The GTA, the state government and the Centre will work together on this issue," Giri said.

Limbu Gaon is in Singbuli tea garden.

S.K. Mantri, the garden manager, could not be contacted because of poor phone network in the area.

Yesterday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had spoken about rehabilitation during her visit. "We need to identify land first," she had said.

Today, the Darjeeling district administration closed the Mirik-Siliguri Road following a fresh landslip at Gayabari early this morning.

S.K. Das, the officer in charge of Mirik police station, said the three bodies that were recovered yesterday were identified today.

"One body was recovered from Lohagarh tea garden and the other from the Mechi river in Naxalbari area. The deceased are Devika Subedi (Sharma) and Sulak alias Deepu alias Digraj. The third body recovered from Limbu Gaon is of Subeshna Thapa," said Das.

So far, 15 bodies have been recovered from Limbu Gaon, eight from other areas of Mirik block, one from Sukhiapokhri and six from Kalimpong. Ten are missing.

Around a decade back, 40-odd families from Shanti Toll area in Gayabari tea garden, 8km downhill from Limbu Gaon, had been shifted further down a hill after a landslide.

Twenty-four people were killed in the July 8, 2003, landslip and the entire village settled in a place later named Naya Gaon, 9km from Limbu Goan.

Kamala Rai, who had lost seven family members in the slide, today said: "Cracks have developed in my house. We are waiting for repair."

The Telegraph

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