Sunday, March 27, 2011

STH Activities : Hazard, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment trainees field visit to Kalimpong (25Mar2011)

The West Bengal State IAG organized a 3 day training program at Siliguri from 24-26Mar2011 in which almost 30 participants from North Bengal received training on Hazard, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment. (Suraj Sharma and Bhushan Chettri from SaveTheHills (STH) also participated in the training program). On the 25Mar2011, the entire team headed by Ms Debadrita Sengupta (Coordinator, State IAG) along with participants drove upto Kalimpong and spent the entire afternoon and early evening visiting landslide prone areas of Kalimpong.
a) They were first taken to the massive erosion and landslides caused by the natural rivulets (jhoras) at Pashyor
(Slides 1&2).
b) We then visited Sindebung village to see the impact of landslides on a farming community. The team interacted with villagers who had lost land, property and livelihoods to landslides. The village has been featured on this blog many, many times (Slides 3&4).
c) This was followed by a visit to Dhobi Dhara village which is densely populated near the Sub-Divisional Hospital (Slide 5).
d) Lastly, the whole team was briefed by Wg Cdr Praful Rao (retd) on landslides situation around Kalimpong and landslides in general in a powerpoint presentation.

Comment by Praful Rao
All members of STH would like to thank the State IAG and all those took the trouble to visit Kalimpong to understand a serious problem which has otherwise been for all practical  purposes been neglected by one and all.

Monday, March 21, 2011

STH Activities : North Bengal University (NBU) field visit to Sindebung :19Mar2011

During the 2 day Seminar on "Disasters : Perception and Mitigation" held at NBU (Dept of Geography) on 11-12Mar2011,  90 odd geographers, geologists and students had visited  some landslide areas of Kalimpong.
The fall out of this visit was that the Department of Geography (NBU) would make some more visits to landslide affected areas in Kalimpong.
As such on 19Mar2011, a team of professors and students lead by the Head of Department Dr (Mrs) Indira Lepcha, visited the Sindebung landslides almost for the entire day  and interacted extensively with the affected community there (having lunch and tea at Sindebung amongst villagers).They were also shown the Pashyor landslide at 5th Mile Kalimpong prior to departing for the University late in the evening.
Comment by Praful Rao
Having attending numerous seminars, meetings and workshops at various levels on landslides, I find that there is a huge disconnect between the wonderful work  geologists, geographers and scientists do and the conditions which exist at the grass root level ie in landslide affected communities. What is sad but true is that seldom does the work of the scientific community percolate down to the affected people whose lot has not changed in many decades despite massive advances in our understanding of the science of landslides.
To that extent I welcome this visit by this visit by the NBU where they witnessed first hand the problems felt by a farming community in Kalimpong which has been afflicted by landslides for more than 30 years now.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Working with the Communities 2011- Dhobi Dhara village (on the west face of Kalimpong). 13Mar2011

Dhobi Dhara village is a densely packed hamlet consisting of almost 200 houses located on a steep slope on the western face of Kalimpong, just below the Scottish University Mission Institution.
People of the village are no strangers to landslides with slips taking place on a regular basis almost every monsoon.
STH has commenced community work in the village on 13Mar2011 when we had preliminary interaction with around 35 people of the village on how best to face the onslaught of the monsoons this year. We hope to proceed along the lines that we did while working in Chibo village last year.
I also went for an hour long tour of the area with two young volunteers who explained me the drainage pattern of the area and showed me vulnerable areas.

Praful Rao

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Seminar on "Disasters : Perception and Mitigation", North Bengal University, 11/12Mar2011

 The 2 day Seminar on "Disasters : Perception and Mitigation" organized by the Dept of Geography, University of North Bengal in association with the Netaji Institute of Asian Studies (Kolkata) and SaveTheHills took place on the 11/12Mar2011.
The highlight of the seminar was the field visit on 12Mar2011, to landslide affected areas  towards Kalimpong. Some 80-90 students, resource persons of eminence and faculty members of various universities took part in the day long visit and were shown the subsidence areas at the 27th Mile NHPC stage III Lo Dam and then the severe landslides and erosion caused by the jhora at Pashyor at 3rd Mile, Kalimpong.
I do hope and believe that prestigious institutions such as NBU will help us highlight the severity of the landslide problem in our area.

Comment by Praful Rao

Many thanks from the landslide affected people of Chibo-Pashyor (Kalimpong) and SaveTheHills to North Bengal University and Netaji Institute of Asian Studies for their concern and help in making this possible.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Seminar on Disasters : Perception and Mitigation, North Bengal University, 11/12Mar2011




First day: 11th March, 2011

INAUGURATION: 10.30 A.M TO 11.15 A.M.

·         Inaugural Song
·         Welcome Address by Coordinator SAP and Convener of the Seminar: Prof. S. Sarkar
·         Felicitation of the Guests
·         Inauguration of the Seminar by Lighting up the lamp
·         Inaugural Address by Dean Arts, Commerce and Law, University of North Bengal: Prof. J. Sankrityayna
·         Keynote Address by Prof. V. C. Vaidya, Pune University
·         Vote of  Thanks by Deputy  Coordinator, SAP & Organizing Secretary of the Seminar: Dr. S. Rohatgi

TEA: 11.15 A.M. TO 11.30 A.M.


Chairperson: Prof. V.C. Vaidya
Rapporteur: Dr. D. K. Mandal, NBU

·         Dr. Chinmoy Pal, GSI: Landslide Inventory Mapping in Sikkim Darjeeling Himalayas
·         Mr. Saibal Ghosh, GSI: Selecting and weighting spatial predictors for empirical modeling of landslide susceptibility in the Darjeeling Himalayas (India)
·         Wng Cdr Praful Rao, Save the Hills: Landslide Hazards in Kalimpong and our experience in working with the communities.
·         Mr. Manv Prasad, Cdr 764 BRTF: Landslide problems on NH 31 A
·         Mr G.N. Raha (IMD), Gangtok: Extreme rainfall events in this region in the past and likely trends

LUNCH: 1.00P.M. TO 2.00 P.M.


Chairperson: Prof. V. K. Kumra
Rapporteur: Dr. R. Roy, NBU

·         Prof. Zahid Hussain Quereshi, NEHU: Fluvial hazards in Northeast India: Perception and Mitigation
·         Prof. Arabindo Ghosh, Jadavpur Univsersity: Landslide Management in Hilly Areas
·         Prof. A.K. Bora, Gauhati University: Flood hazard and its Mitigation in Lower Brahmaputra Valley
·         Ms. Debadita Sengupta, Coordinator, State Interagency Group, West Bengal: Mitigating disaster impact through Interagency coordination
·         Miss. Writuparna Chakraborty A.B.N.Seal College & Mr. Hirak Dam, Sadar Govt. High School, Cooch Behar: Disaster Management and Mitigation: With Reference to Earthquakes

TEA: 3.30 P.M. TO 3.45 P.M.


Chairperson: Dr. Chinmoy Pal
Rapporteur: Dr. S. K. Bhattacharya, NBU

·         Prof. D. K. Nayek, NEHU: Social construction of Natural hazards: A case of flood.
·         Dr. Madhusan Karmakar, Maynaguri College: Disaster Management Planning at village Level: A study of North Bengal
·         Mr. Prabir Kundu and Ms. Jayshree Sarkar, Siliguri Mahila Mahavidyalaya: The factor of slope instability and landslide: its mechanism and mitigation in Darjeeling Himalaya
·         Mr. Somenath Haldar and Barnali Das, Kaliachak College: Disaster and Perception: a case study of 2000 flood scenarios of Murshidabad district with special reference to RS and GIS
·         Miss Ranjita Roy Sarkar, K.G.T. College: Disaster Mitigation: Role of Communication, Leadership Coordination, Warehousing and Stockpiling
·         Mr. Tamal B. Roy, Mr. Sanjay Saha, Mr. Bipul Chandra Sarkar: Atmospheric Disaster, Causes, Consequences and Mitigation Measures with special reference to devastating Tornado – A Case Study of Uttar Dinajpur.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Impact of landslides : Gandhi Ashram School at 6th Mile (Kalimpong) decides to shift

Gandhi Ashram School at 6th Mile (Upper Tashiding) Kalimpong is a school which was founded in 1993 by the late Father Ed McGuire s.j, a Jesuit priest from Canada. It is a unique school in many respects and is a must-see site for any visitor to Kalimpong (read here). The Director of the school now is Fr Paul s.j.
I had the distinct pleasure of knowing Fr McGuire and it saddened me deeply to know that the school is now compelled to shift  to a (hopefully safer) location due to subsidence in the entire school premises - the cause is scouring and erosion by a natural rivulet or jhora which runs just below the school.
I visited the school yesterday and talked to Fr Patel s.j who is the headmaster. He showed me around the premises and allowed me to photograph the damage caused by the subsidence.

Praful Rao