Saturday, August 23, 2014

Figure Out Landslides

Isn’t it ironic that after the rains failed the crops, monsoon showers are now collapsing away roads? Even as the weather confounds with its climate-change temperament, the certainty of landslides discovers new formations to slice away in Sikkim? But should it really come as a surprise? Planning has consistently delineated development from ecology in Sikkim and although the State has admittedly taken handsome strides in attempting to conserve and nurture its environment, it has been doing so in isolation and piecemeal. Laudable initiatives like the State Green Mission, the creation of a Commission to study the health of Sikkim’s glaciers and the spring rejuvenation programme to map and protect its water sources, have not been effectively tied into the State’s race to develop infrastructure. For instance, even as dhara vikas is being implemented, new roads are carving routes through, or too near to, these very springs even as construction excavation gets routinely dumped into already stressed jhoras and on already unstable slopes. The unmonitored digging and scraping venture of hydel developers is another cause for worry, and although the government has recognized it and instituted a committee to spell out how these developers should go about their business, the close watch that these projects need to be kept under is still not palpable. Compounding the situation is the half-hearted followup that natural disasters receive. Neither the media, nor the ‘concerned agencies’ have done an even remotely thorough job of recording how Sikkim has healed or learned from the September 2011 earthquake, and if a calamity of such proportions is so casually forgotten, the niggling worries of traditional troublespots and notorious slide zones end up only as news-reports, not feature length meditations. The incidents [of slides and disruptions] are reported extensively, but the causes remain unexplained. The North Sikkim Highway has been on a consistent sink and slide ever since it was cut out as has been the case of the marg to Nathula in East Sikkim. It clearly takes more than just heavy rain to excavate hills and dump them on roads. More engineering sense should be invested to understand landslides and figure them out. Now that the Governor and his entourage have been ambushed by North Sikkim Highway’s most notorious neighbours of Lanthey and Meyong Chu slide zones, another reason has arrived to send in the experts to figure out why these slides remain active despite decades of repair and restoration works. And while the road formation and water course science is figured out, perhaps some real experts and better engineers should also be invited in to recommend more reliable fixes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Readers are invited to comment on, criticise, run down, even appreciate if they like something in this blog. Comments carrying abusive/ indecorous language and personal attacks, except when against the people working on this blog, will be deleted. It will be exciting for all to enjoy some earnest debates on this blog...