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Relief operations for Darjeeling landslides victims

Kurseong MLA Dr. Rohit Sharma distributing relief material to tingling mirik landslides victims
Relief operations have started on a war-footing in the hills of Darjeeling, devastated by a series of landslides on Tuesday night.

In Kurseong sub-divisions the administration has established three major relief centres in Tingling and Saureni Busty though more than 20 small relief camps are also in operation. In Kalimpong however because of the scattered nature of the houses no major relief centre has been set up.
“We have established three major relief centers in Kurseong but none in Kalimpong. However, we are providing all relief materials in small centers where people are taking refuge in fear,” Darjeeling District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava said. A nine member medical team led by a doctor is visiting the relief camps in Mirik to check on the injured and the children.
The district administration has already chalked out contingency plans with the monsoon just started. “We have our contingency plan in place already for the eight blocks of Darjeeling Hills. We are also on the alert and have asked our staffs to work the extra hours to meet any
future eventualities because monsoon in the Hills have just started,” said an official not wanting to be named.
The district administration is also replenishing petrol and diesels at the various pumps in Kalimpong. “We have been informed that pumps are short on petrol and diesels as the road from NH 10 is closed. Therefore we have requisitioned for fuel from the Indian Oil
Corporation,” the official said.
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has started distributing blankets, rice, dal and baby foods among others, in the relief camps in Mirik. “We have already started distributing relief materials in Mirik and will also do so in Kalimpong,” said Anit Thapa, the GTA Sabhasad from Kurseong-Giddepahar. National Highway 55 is closed from an earlier landslide but the alternative Rohini Road to Kurseong and Darjeeling is open. However
National Highway 10, the primary link to Sikkim from Siliguri, is closed because the road at Sethi jhora is blocked but is expected to be open by Saturday the district administration has said. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) service has also been disrupted by a landslide that occurred at Merry Villa 3 km outside Darjeeling town.

The district administration on Friday sought to clear the confusion over the death toll. With 22 deaths in the Kurseong sub-division, six in Kalimpong and one in Darjeeling sub-division, Srivastava put the death-toll at 29. But with administrative records putting down 12 persons
as still missing from Mirik and Kalimpong, the toll could finally cross 40. Fourteen people have been reported injured.

“On Thursday, we received information of two bodies recovered near the Nepal side. However, the information was false. In fact, today morning an unidentified female body was recovered from Panighatta in Mirik which has put the toll to 29,” Srivastav said. The unidentified body of a woman was found in Lohagarh under the Panighatta gram panchayat in Mirik.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had 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. Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) chief Bimal Grung had announced compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of those dead.

Lava monastery Monks at forefront of rescue efforts

Monks of Lava monastery in Kalimpong have formed themselves into teams, providing whatever relief they could salvage to the victims of landslides, setting an example.

The monks, themselves victims of the landslide, went as teams to remote villages of Lava to provide assistance. They joined the local people in rescuing those trapped inside fallen houses and carrying the injured on their back. With Kalimpong being far away from the area, the injured persons were brought to a small clinic run under the Lava monastery where they were given basic aid.

The monastery officials also opened its stock room to provide ration and other essentials to the villagers who had not eaten anything for the past few days.

The open courtyards of the monastery also served as a temporary emergency camp for those seeking refuge after their houses were destroyed and got nowhere to evacuate. “Seeing the large influx of people into the monastery trusting us with their lives, we know we have a task at hand to make sure that we live up to it,” said a monk from the monastery. (HS)

Donations to help Darjeeling landslides victims

Donations have started to flood in to help the victims of the landslides of Darjeeling.

One of the early donation was made by Darjeeling Land Reforms Office staff who offered Rs 1500 collectively for the victims, followed by PC Mittal group and Hyundai showroom of Siliguri who donated six cartoons of mineral water and ORS. On Thursdsay, a group of youngsters from Sukuna were seen carrying a donation drive in an open area near the railway station. Besides, many individuals have reportedly made contributions under the ‘Darjeeling Together’ campaign being steered by a Darjeeling based online media.

“It is humiliating for the people of Darjeeling hills, as even after two days of the calamity nothing has been done by the Centre and the state government. Seems like their Twitter posts speak louder than action. The ones in far-flung rural villages need assistance at the earliest but no help or support has reached them so far. Hence, we have come up with the online donation campaign. If we don’t stand for our people, then probably nobody will,” said the founder of the media.

“Hence, i request all clubs, organisations, and NGOs of the district to come forward and help in raising funds for relief work towards the landslide survivors. (HS)

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