Darjeeling Landslide: The fury of nature seems to be full on, pin pointing the hills of Darjeeling and Sikkim. Firstly, the 6.8 Richter scale Sikkim earthquake with its epicenter in North Sikkim devastated Sikkim badly and the hills of Darjeeling got its tremors felt to quite a massive extent. Many died in Sikkim, specially the Northern region. Rescue operations were as if stepping on thin ice and the greatest hurdle was reaching the affected region where all roads were either swept off by a landslide or filled with gigantic boulders. Finally Sikkim is getting up and we humbly extend our kind and loving prayers for all those affected.
The earthquake was one episode and definitely not the last for the Darjeeling Tea gardens lying in the Lebong valley region. Though the earthquake did not do much damage to Darjeeling hills and its tea gardens apart from some minor damages at Tumsong Tea Garden, Darjeeling had to suffer in another way – landslides! Due to the earthquake several cracks had developed on the roads and care to be taken in order to avoid water seepage which could cause devastating landslides – such one landslide occurred on Sunday night, just about 10 minutes walk from Thunderbolt Tea’s office, sweeping away nearly a 30 meter stretch of Lebong Cart Road which connects to the Lebong valley region where about 14 Darjeeling Tea Gardens are located. Happy Valley Tea Estate’s tea factory nearly came under the landslide.
This road is the main arterial connection for the people residing in the region. Several schools are located beyond the landslide area and most of them have advanced their Puja holidays which was actually scheduled from September 30. The road has been down for about 4 days now and thank God, the Army guys have come to the rescue – they are building an iron bridge across, which would facilitate traffic temporarily.
Darjeeling has been receiving a whole lot of rain and after the earthquake, the hills have become vulnerable. After the landslide mentioned above, recently a fresh devastating landslide occurred at Tindharia on September 28 causing a cave-in on ‘National Highway 55′ – about 150 meter stretch has been swept off by the landslide.
Landslide at Tindharia cutting off all traffic. Tindharia is quite far from Darjeeling, I extracted the above photo from a daily local newspaper “Himalaya Darpan” which is of course published in the local language i.e. Nepali.
No casualties have been reported in both the cases.
After the Darjeeling First Flush, Second Flush tea seasons and the monsoons, at the moment, Darjeeling Tea gardens are gearing up for the next big tea season – Autumn Flush 2011. The Darjeeling Tea plantations including Puttabong Tea Estate, Vah Tukvar, Phoobsering Tea Estate, Badamtam Tea Garden, Singtom etc. are totally cut off at the moment and hope the army builds the bridge fast so that traffic is possible.
This post doesn’t say that all Darjeeling Tea gardens are affected, but only those located in the Lebong valley region – hope that everything gets sorted out before the actual Autumn Flush starts!
Update Oct. 2, 2011:
The bridge is ready and thanks to the Army guys – now all of the Darjeeling Tea gardens who were cut off totally can now be accessible once again!