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North Sikkim reels under rains, landslides block highways, damage houses

Landslides blocked National Highway 10, connecting Sikkim with other parts of the country, at various places, officials said.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2018 18:45 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
Sikkim,Sikkim rains,North Sikkim
Officials said at least 50 houses have been fully or partially damaged by landslides.(File Photo/Representative image)

Heavy, incessant rains lashed Sikkim’s North district for the second day on Saturday, triggering landslides that destroyed bridges, rendered many families homeless and cut off communication links to the rest of the country. No respite is in sight with the met office predicting “heavy to very rainfall” in the state in the next 48 hours.

Landslides blocked National Highway 10, connecting Sikkim with other parts of the country, at various places, officials said.

They said at least 50 houses have been fully or partially damaged by landslides, and a relief camp has been set up at Dzongu. Most parts of North Sikkim have remained without electricity for the second consecutive day. There is no internet connectivity at many places also. Water supply to the district headquarters, Mangan, has also been affected.

“Heavy showers since September 9 caused widespread damages,” Bhumika Pradhan, information officer of the North district, said.

Officials said the region has not witnessed such damages since the devastating earthquake of September 18, 2011 when entire North Sikkim remained cut off for many days.

On the evening of September 13, a bridge over Rafong Khola between Mangan and Chungthang was washed away. A log bridge has been hurriedly put up for emergency evacuation. A landslide at Lanthey Khola has completely damaged the highway stretch to Mangan.

“Streams in full spate are bringing down boulders and causing landslides that have cut off the road network,” said the information department in a statement.

The upper part of Dzongu, the land of the aboriginal Lepcha tribes, remains completely cut off.

“Fortunately, the rains have ceased a bit on Saturday morning. If it remains like this, we hope the situation will improve,” said Karma R Bonpo, the district collector.

Kapil Meena, collector of East district, said that fresh landslides have hit National Highway 10 and authorities have “undertaken urgent repair work to clear the road for traffic”.

Ganesh Khanal, joint secretary of disaster management department said, “Heavy rains have badly affected the road network. Restoring it is a matter of priority.”

Officials said the Mangan-Chungthang roads may even take a month to be restored for vehicular traffic. Many schools have been damaged.

Official residences of senior government officials including those of judges at Mangan have been affected as large parts of North Sikkim are located on a sinking zone.

Tour operators said tourists have been advised not to draw up any plan to visit areas such as Lachen, Lachung, Gurudongmar Lake and Yumthang as these have been badly affected.

Two major hydel projects - Teesta Urja (1200 MW) at Chungthang and Teesta Satge V - are however safe.

On September 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is supposed to inaugurate Sikkim’s first airport just 30 km away from state capital Gangtok. Inclement weather, however, may affect the programme, said an official.

First Published: Sep 15, 2018 18:45 IST