Four days after the earthquake, nature's nightmare remains etched in 57-year-old PD Rai's memory as fresh as ever. "There is not a single house in entire Sikkim that has not suffered some damage.
I will never ever forget what 6.9 on the Richter Scale feels like," said Sikkim's lone representative in the Lok Sabha. "Assessments till now indicate that while about 4000 houses have totally collapsed and will have to rebuilt, all houses in the state will have to undergo repairs," said Rai who was in a meeting in his home office when the earth shook that fateful Sunday.
"We are quite used to tremblors but this one was the most intense in living memory and almost never-ending." A financial estimate of the damage is still being worked out even as vast areas in the state's north remain unreachable because of remoteness and difficult terrain. "At least 15 days are needed to firm up final figures."
Sources in the state government said that while the Centre's immediate relief of Rs. 50 crore will help the initial aid work, lot more funds are required for the state to be back on the rails. "We will submit a memorandum to the Centre shortly on our needs," said KS Tobgay, secretary, information and public relations.
"The state assembly building has been abandoned after being damaged beyond repair in Sunday's quake. Inevitably, administrative and governance work is being hampered," said a senior government official. The assembly building was built soon after Sikkim's merger with India in 1975. The fear of cascading casualties also looms large as many hamlets lies decimated. Each such hamlet had about 30 families on the average. "We are really apprehensive of what lies ahead," said Rai, who will accompany chief minister Pawan Chamling on a visit to the northern areas from Friday onwards.