Showing posts with label Disaster management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disaster management. Show all posts

Darjeeling‬ - Fire guts shops in heart of ‪the town (Daroga Bazaar)

9:48 AM
A sudden blaze late at night in the heart of Darjeeling town completely destroyed three shops and an equal number of godowns, raising fears of arson among residents of the area.

The shops included two apparel stores and a bookstore, and the three godowns were located below them. Located on BM Chatterjee Road, popularly known as Daroga Bazaar, the establishments were totally gutted by the fire. Although there was no loss of life, goods worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed.

The three shops and godowns along with four other neighbouring stores dealt in clothing and stationery and are housed in ‘P’ Building, a two-storey structure owned by the Darjeeling municipality. The building is partly wooden and partly concrete.

According to locals, the fire started around 1.30am on Wednesday morning from a store where furniture items had been kept. Six fire tenders were pressed into service, and with help from the locals, the blaze was brought under control around 6:00am. “We managed to douse the fire only by six in the morning. Water was available but the congestion and narrowness of the approach road obstructed smooth execution of work. Fortunately, we managed to contain the fire and it did not spread to adjacent structures. We are yet to ascertain the cause though,” said Bharat Lama, and officer with the Darjeeling Sadar fire station.
Fire guts shops in heart of ‪Darjeeling‬ town
Fire guts shops in heart of ‪Darjeeling‬ town
Meanwhile, residents of ‘C’ Building, located just 15 feet below ‘D’ Building, have alleged the fire was an act of arson that was actually targeted at their building. The dilapidated ‘C’ Building is made of wood and tin sheets and is more than 100 years old. The municipality has leased it to 50 families.
“We heard a huge explosion that shook our rooms. Fearing an earthquake, we tried to get out of our house, but surprisingly the door was latched from outside. We had to break the glass pane and unlock the door,” said Bikash Bhitrikotey, one of the residents of ‘C’ Building. Echoing him, another resident named Lhamin Sherpa said, “How come were the doors of our rooms latched from outside? The door of the furniture godown was open so late in the night and we could smell kerosene oil everywhere. Hence, we strongly suspect it was a deliberate plan to demolish our building.”

Following the April 2015 earthquake and continuous aftershocks, the civic body carried out a survey of old buildings that included the ‘C’ Building. It had decided to dismantle the existing structure and build a four-storey building. However, the project is yet to start. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior municipality official said discussions had failed with the residents of ‘C’ Building due to which the new structure project had to be shelved. “We had several rounds of talks with the residents. They wanted not only rehabilitation but also livelihood means as the building houses both residential and commercial spaces. Since we did not have such provisions, we decided against going ahead with the project,” he said.

Darjeeling Municipality chairman Amar Singh Rai visited the accident spot as soon as he was informed and said a report would be submitted to the state government while and an inquiry launched to look into the allegations. “A survey and assessment of the damage will be conducted and submitted to the government at the earliest,” he said.

Darjeeling SP Amit Javalgi said, “The fire started from one of the godowns located below the shops, but we do not know the cause at this point in time. Incidents of arson and sabotage usually do not occur here but we will conduct an investigation all the same.”


Fire in Darjeeling town - all you need to know

9:15 AM
13th April 2016 Its very sad to report that the part of Darjeeling town was once again engulfed in fire early in the morning today. Following are thing that is all you need to know which has come out of the event till now.

1.Fire Breaks Out At Shyam Brothers Line Darjeeling
Fire broke out at Shyam Brothers line in Darjeeling Town which initially engulfed two shops completely - Metro Book store and Dullaram  have been burned down almost 80%. According to locals, the fire broke out at 2 AM and despite informing, the fire-brigade arrived late at the scene, after an hour to douse the flames.
Fire Breaks Out At Shyam Brothers Line Darjeeling
Fire Breaks Out At Shyam Brothers Line
2.Deliberate Sabotage Allege Locals
Residents of C-building which is near the P-building that caught fire in Darjeeling town today have alleged that they could not get out of their houses as someone had locked their door from outside. Residents claimed that they couldn't get out, until an individual broke his window and managed to get out and open everyone's door.
Deliberate Sabotage Allege Locals
3.Fire Spread From Furniture Godown Say Locals
Locals have alleged that the fire which engulfed P-building and parts of Metro bookstore line started from a furniture godown and spread rapidly. Even though locals fought the fire bravely with buckets of  water, they could not help save these properties.
Fire in Darjeeling town - all you need to know
Fire Spread From Furniture Godown Say Locals
4.Fire Tankers Run Out of Water - Municipal Chairman Comes to Rescue
Once again the fire tankers were without water in Darjeeling, and had it not been for the Municipal Chairman Mr. Amar Rai the fire would have become worse.
Fire Tankers Run Out of Water - Municipal Chairman Comes to Rescue
Fire Tankers Run Out of Water - Municipal Chairman Comes to Rescue
After the initial tanker doused some flames it ran out of water and there was no alternative. Municipal Chairman Mr. Rai then called up all the water tankers that ferry water to town and requested them to assist in dousing the fire. He also requested help from Kurseong fire-brigade.

Thanks to the timely intervention of local residents and Mr. Rai the flames are now under control.

With inputs from TheDC

Hailstorm, Malgovernance, and Indifferent State – How Safe Are We?

9:38 AM
Writes Shailendra M Pradhan for TheDC

March 31st, 2016, will go down in the collective memory for two, or possibly three, reasons: hailstorm in Darjeeling, the tragedy in Kolkata caused by the collapse of under-construction bridge, and, of not lesser interest to a cricketing nation like ours, the defeat of India in T20 World Cup to Windies, despite Virat’s heroics. Of the previous two, the tragedy in Kolkata claimed more than 30 lives, while many were fear trapped under the rubble of under-construction overpass for hours and, even, days.

The hailstorm in Darjeeling, however, evoked two contradictory responses. First, it came and was received as a pleasant surprise by both the locals and tourists who, denied of the snow in the winters since 2008, were quick to relish in the blanket of almost 6-7 inches of hailstorm. Second, given the timing of the hailstorm, many, especially the farmers and agriculturists in rural Darjeeling, and the planters in tea gardens, feared a loss to their output and productivity, which, as a matter of investigation, deserve more time and research. In both the cases of hailstorm and bridge collapse, the failure of the administration to respond and rescue the people has, however, become more apparent.
Hailstorm, Malgovernance, and Indifferent State – How Safe Are We?
Perhaps, in case of the tragedy in Kolkata, April Fool’s Day came a day before to the state administration, and much before the assembly elections to the Trinamul Congress-govt which has come under scathing criticisms from the opposition, but more importantly, from the people because of its decisions to push through the completion of the bridge in a haphazard manner, much ahead of its scheduled deadline in November this year. Whether or not the tragedy will involve any political cost for the ruling dispensation under TMC is best left to scrutiny once the election results are out.

For now, it would be pertinent to introspect on the administrative response to the plight and hardship of the people caused in the wake of hailstorm.

Disasters and Administration in Darjeeling: An Uneasy Relationship?

Darjeeling, famous for its 3 Ts – tea, tourism, and toy-train, is also equally notorious for its disasters. The landslides in Mirik and Kalimpong in July last year resulted in the death of more than 40 lives. Similarly, the cyclone Aila in 2009 created havoc in different pockets of Darjeeling hills, and disrupted normal life for days together. Given its location in Lesser Himalaya, Darjeeling is prone to landslides, earthquakes, and various other natural hazards. The response of the govt. to these disasters has, however, remained disappointing, and of little help and assistance to the people.

The hailstorm in Darjeeling only deepened our fear of insensible and ill-prepared administration when it was caught completely off-guard to deal with such emergencies. While the thunder-shower and hailstorm lasted for a little more than half an hour, the immediate hardship experienced by the people will remain with them for times to come – the traffic was thrown out of gear for large part of the day; the people, travelling to and from Darjeeling, could not reach their destination on time; and, the students made home – with a starving stomach with nothing to eat for hours – from their schools very late in the night due to unmoving traffic. In the absence of Civil Defence personnel, who are mostly responsible for rescue and relief operations in any hazard situations, the people themselves had to negotiate and make their way through layers and layers of hailstorm.

In fact, the inability of both the district administration and Darjeeling Municipality to deploy even the basic snow-removal equipments and tools such as snowplow, wovel, and blower to clear off the roads highlight the insensitivity of the govt. to the plights of the people in disaster-situations. Unsurprisingly, the people took on themselves to help each other from lending a hand to push the vehicles trapped in hail-covered road to offering teas and biscuits to the starving travelers by the locals. And, while the tourists and locals displayed strong camaraderie in this hour of hardship, the administration remained ignorant of its own shortcomings.

Smart-Phones – But Not-So-Smart Administration!

Better communications can warn the people of the impending disasters, and help them to better prepare and mitigate during their occurrences. The timely evacuation of millions of people in the face of approaching Phailin, known to be the fiercest cyclone to hit coastal Andhra and Odisha in recent times, is perhaps the most glaring example of how information and communication can help avert any major disaster. The boom in the Information and Technology industry (IT, hereafter), and the promptness at which the information can be collected and made available at the touch of one’s phone-screen can improve our preparedness level in disaster mitigation. One of the biggest failures of the successive govts in West Bengal has been its inability to fine-tune its administration and personnel to the prospects available in IT sector – in other words, the coming of smart-phones in the markets in Bengal has not been accompanied by equally smart and technology-oriented local administration. As a result, the people remain deprived of the information on weather-forecasts and impending risks, which if timely relayed as text-messages or calls, can save them from many hardships.

The inability of the state disaster management authority, which is replete with time-consuming bureaucratic process and corruption, and district administration to communicate and warn the people of the impending disasters pierce the very idea of smart-cities which are disaster and risk resilient. In case of hailstorm in Darjeeling, the district administration not only failed to make use of the information available with the metrological department for its own preparedness, but also showed laxity in relaying them to the people. It is a sad fact that the district administration has not been able to capitalize on the smart-phones available with the people in Darjeeling, let alone set-up and strengthen its communication technologies for early-warning of any disaster or weather-related information.

Safety and Social Responsibility: The Missing Link?

When the news of hailstorm in Darjeeling made to social network sites such as Facebook on TheDC, Darjeeling Times, and other local news pages, the people were busy “liking”, responding, or sharing their feelings on possibly every news and photographs related to the event. To the tourists in the town, but also to the locals, Darjeeling, had, perhaps lived up to its expectation as the indisputable “Queen of Hill Stations” in India. Of the many stories on hailstorm that made it to national newspapers and online news portals the following morning, one small bit related to the damages in one of the most prestigious schools in Darjeeling, the Loreto Convent – the roof of its basketball court had apparently collapsed. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The incident, however, puts a big question mark on the safety and reliability of our infrastructures in various schools and institutions: how safe are our infrastructures to withstand hazards like earthquakes and hailstorms? Do we have enough regulatory institutions to ensure that safety-norms and laws are abided and observed? Are we sensitive to our environment and our safety?

Darjeeling can, perhaps, take pride in being the oldest municipality in India, built way back in 1853, with British concerned about the nitty-gritty of building a safe and habitable place on the lines of its own towns in London: building bye-laws, adequate drainage system, and strong road and railway lines. Most of these have either been modified or replaced by new laws and norms, and infrastructures that are apparently better suited to deal with various challenges of our times such as population growth and urbanisation. The safety and the well-being of the people, however, have been compromised in the process, and Darjeeling, as it is today, remains one of the most neglected and vulnerable hill towns in India.

In our collective capacity, we should remind ourselves of the disasters that are in making, largely because of our own insensitivity to the environment and nature – the dumping of our waste almost anywhere and everywhere, building of our houses and other infrastructures almost anywhere and everywhere, even in the most vulnerable and hazard-prone areas, and little or no concern for public property and goods.

The recent hailstorm, despite being largely harmless, should serve as a warning to our representatives, policy-makers, builders, and, above all, to ourselves on the need to introspect on the pace and pattern of our development.

Via TheDC

MIRIK Landslide: Another Disaster in the Making

10:55 AM
MIRIK:The painful landslide event of last year is still afresh in all of our minds, and the people who were forced to take shelter in relief cams are yet to return to their homes, but the district administration is already starting to lay the ground work for another round of disasters.

Only two months ago Mirik Municipality had completed the drain along the main road leading upto Mirik, and now that drain has been dug up to lay cable for 3G and 4G communications. While we welcome the new technology, what we do not welcome ia the fact that after the cable is laid down, there has been no attempt made to cover the drain and bring it back to its original state.

Why did the government waste money in building the drains, if at the end of they day, they wanted to dig it up anyway? Now thst the cable is laid in many places already, shouldn't the government make sure that the drain is rebuilt?
MIRIK Landslide: Another Disaster in the Making
MIRIK Landslide: Another Disaster in the Making
It might be reminded that much of the landslide in Mirik region last year was due to clogged drains like these, which resukted in water seeling onto the hills, instead of draining out.

We request Mirik Municipality and Darjeeling District Administration to kindly ensure thst the drain is rebuilt as early as possible. Darjeeling cannot afford another round of landslides due to faulty administrative practices.

Arbin Angla Subba for TheDC

Darjeeling municipality starts demolishing illegal structures

10:31 AM
Beginning on Tuesday, the Darjeeling municipality has started demolishing high rises flouting the building norms laid down in the Bengal Municipal Act, an issue that has been raised by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung in the aftermath of the recent earthquake and landslides. The municipality staff and some workers started dismantling the two floors of an under construction building located between H.D. Lama Road and N.B. Singh Road in the heart of town. The particular building is jointly owned by four persons- Nausad Siddique, Md. Umar, Imran Hingun and Dawa Diki Sherpa. The owners had started fresh constructions after the original structure was completely destroyed in a devastating fire in 2011.
Darjeeling municipality starts demolishing illegal structures
Darjeeling municipality starts demolishing illegal structures
“We have started demolishing buildings that are flouting the B.M. Act. We are doing this after having served notices to the owners,” said Sukhbahadur Biswakarma, the municipality vice-chairman, who is overseeing the dismantling process.

On Monday, the GJM president had raised the issue of illegal high rises that were mushrooming in the hills and asked the municipality to demolish them. “Tourists come to the hills to enjoy the greenery and the beautiful environment. They have lots of buildings in their places and don’t want to see such structures here. The municipality should dismantle all illegal structures. I will see who objects,” he had said in a function in Darjeeling.

In fact, Gurung specifically pointed out to the two floors of the building that was started being dismantled on Tuesday. The GJM president, who will be leaving for Delhi on August 1, had even said that he himself would demolish the structure upon his return, if it was found that no steps had been taken by the municipality.

The municipality started a survey in all the wards in Darjeeling after the Nepal earthquake and the recent landslides that claimed 32 lives in the hills. “We started the survey of buildings that have been constructed above the permissible height of 11.5 meters in the hills. We had issued notices to the owners of the buildings but they did not respond or stop construction work. We had given permission for only 11.5 meters, which roughly translates to a ground floor and three floors above. That is why we have started demolishing the illegal structure,” Biswakarma said.

The civic body started the survey from June 9, focusing in the town areas and this will extend in all the 28 wards in Darjeeling. “So far we have issued 61 notices to owners of buildings that have been found violating building norms. At the moment I cannot segregate the notices but they pertain to violations such as illegal construction of additional floors and walls and encroachment among other factors. Our survey is still in progress and only after we complete it will we be able to provide the numbers,” said Prashant Rai, the municipal engineer.

When contacted for his comment, Umar said, “What can I say but let the law take its course. If it (building) is illegal then let them dismantle it.” The other owners, however, did not take calls with one of them (Siddique) saying he was in a meeting and could not talk at the moment.

Sources in the municipality said that so far, according to the survey, 18 buildings in and around town have been found to have flouted the permissible limit of 11.5 meters in the hilly region.

“The survey is in progress but we have already found several buildings that have violated the norms. However, the good thing is that some of owners that are building structures are themselves demolishing the illegal portions,” he said.

Source - EOI

Indian Idol Prashant Tamang Funds drive for landslide victims

1:04 PM
Siliguri, July 17: Singer Prashant Tamang, the 2007 winner of the reality show Indian Idol, will perform here tomorrow to raise funds for the Mirik landslides victims and their families.
Prashant Tamang, the 2007 winner of the reality show Indian Idol,
Prashant Tamang, the 2007 winner of the reality show Indian Idol
Amit Paul, who was the first runners-up at the show in 2007, will also perform at the show with Tamang. Parleen Singh Giri, Abhishek Kumar and Emon Chatterjee, three more artistes, will also join them at the event, which will be held in a hotel in Matigaratomorrow evening.
Entry to the event is through invitation only.

The invitees can donate any amount for the cause at the programme.
"I plan to visit Darjeeling with my friends onJuly 19. But before that, we heard about the disaster that took place in the hills. Our friend Amit, who was in Siliguri, first contacted me and said we should do something for the victims, and we could raise money for the affected residents of the hills," Tamang said.

Tamang hails from the Darjeeling hills, but is based in Mumbai at present.

Paul, who was also present at a news conference today, said: "After I spoke to my friends in Mumbai, I contacted a local person who is running an NGO. We requested him to organise an event so that we can hold a musical programme and raise some funds for the slide victims of the hills."

Binny Sharma, a Trinamul leader who is organising the event, said: "We have collected around Rs 3.51 lakh and will hand it over to the district magistrate of Darjeeling for the chief minister's relief fund. Whatever additional funds are collected during the event tomorrow will also be given to the relief fund."


GTA decides to rehabilitate landslides victims in three phases

9:51 AM
Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, July 9: The GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration) has decided to rehabilitate landslides victims in three phases in what is expected to be one of the biggest rehabilitation processes in the hills in recent times.

Arun Sigchi, the elected GTA Sabha member from Soureni, today said: "On July 6, we held a meeting with the management of Soureni, Gayabari and Singbuli tea gardens. The management of the gardens has agreed on the need to rehabilitate those who have been affected in the landslides. We plan to undertake the process in three phases."
Despair and Worry Plagues Lower Reshap Residents - Darjeeling landslide
Despair and Worry Plagues Lower Reshap Residents - Darjeeling landslide
Those people whose houses are inhabitable will be immediately relocated to safer places in the first phase. In the second phase, those whose houses are partially damaged will be rehabilitated.

"In the third phase, we will relocate those houses which are situated on steep slopes and in vulnerable areas," said Singhi.

The GTA is also looking at using the survey report of the Geological Survey of India to finalise its long-term rehabilitation process.

Sigchi said they were looking at rehabilitating around 600-700 families only in the Mirik block. The figure is expected to touch around 900 families across the Darjeeling hills.

According to preliminary reports, property worth around Rs 27 crore has been lost in the July 1 landslide. The figure, however, does not include damage to infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

The district administration will be providing a sum of Rs 1.01 lakh each to reconstruct fully damaged houses.

"Since this amount will not be enough, the GTA will also be pooling in funds for the reconstruction of houses," said Sigchi.

The GTA today held a review meeting in Darjeeling that was chaired by Ravi Inder Singh, the principal secretary of the hill body.

At present, the GTA has cleared 40 roads leading to various villages across the hills.

Source: Telegraph

GTA Press Release on landslides in the Darjeeling hills

10:26 PM
Press Release from Gorkhaland Territorial Administration on 9th July 2015.

The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration's Chief Executive Mr Bimal Gurung is visiting all the areas affected by the landslides in Kalimpong including Todhay Tangta, Lava Lingsey, Gitadabing and Khola Khan at lava.
Bimal Gurung visiting the damaged areas during heavy rainfall on 30th june 2015 to 5th july 2015 in the hills
Bimal Gurung visiting the damaged areas during heavy rainfall on 30th june 2015 to 5th july 2015 in the hills
Principal Secretary, Dr Ravi Inder Singh chaired a high-level meeting to review the status of relief and rescue operations in areas affected by the recent landslide.

Mr Bimal Gurung , the Hon'ble CE was briefed over the phone on the extent of destruction, including the damage to infrastructure such as roads, Schools, Colleges, Government buildings and power lines by the Principal Secretary. In the meeting an overview of the status of relief operations and steps taken to ensure supply of essential commodities including food and drinking water was discussed. GTA is currently accessing the damage caused and shall be sending their report to the State and Central Government.
List of roads damage during heavy rainfall on 30th june 2015 to 5th july 2015 in the #Darjeeling hills.
List of roads damage during heavy rainfall on 30th June 2015 to 5th July 2015 in the #Darjeeling hills PART ONE
List of roads damage during heavy rainfall on 30th June 2015 to 5th July 2015 in the Darjeeling hills. PART 2

Mr Bimal Gurung, instructed top officials of the GTA to continue to work closely with the affected area to ensure that there are no bottlenecks in relief and rescue work. He also emphasized the need to document learnings from this landslide. The meeting was attended by all GTA Executive Directors, Engineers and other top officials along with Shri Trilok Dewan, MLA Darjeeling.

In the meeting a list of roads restored by the GTA was also presented.GTA in the last one week have been working round the clock and has restored nearly about 40 roads in GTA area.

Media Cell, Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

Via: Bimal Gurung Official

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