Gangtok: Four houses were completely destroyed in a landslide in Sokpay village under Dikchu Zang block in Gangtok district in the wee hours on Sunday morning. The landslide is estimated to have damaged more than 2 km of vertical length of the Dikchu hills and cut off the National Highway connecting North Sikkim.
At least 18 families had to be evacuated from near the landslide area fearing more damages.
Officials reported that the said landslide was dry, and not induced by rainfall. Locals blamed a powerline tower construction at the top of the hill and NHPC dam at base of the hill for the landslide. The Sikkim government has provided Rs 1.3 lakh to the two house owners who lost their homes, Rs 40,500 to a cow owner and Rs 25,000 to a house tenant.
The slide was surveyed by Gangtok District Magistrate Tushar Nikhare and other concerned officials from Gangtok District on Sunday afternoon.
“How the slide occurred will be surveyed by mines and geology department. It was a dry slide but there is NHPC dam at the base of the hill and at the top of the hill there is powerline tower. The public has been stating that as the reason for the landslide but we cannot ascertain without investigation,” Gangtok District Zilla Adhyaksha Balaram Adhikari said.
As the highway connects to North Sikkim, an alternative road from nearby Samdong village has been made commutable. Public Health Engineering officials have surveyed the damage and initiated actions to open road connectivity.
“The clearance could take 2-3 days as the size of the boulders is very big. But a pathway will be carved from the slide for people to walk through,” Adhikari said.
A nearby Animal Husbandry office was also damaged by the landslide, which according to Mohan Neopaney, a local resident, was inaugurated in 2022.
“There were 15-20 houses that have been damaged or lost. Everyone here has lost electricity and water connections. We are hopeful of the government providing us relief.”
Manju Sharma, another resident, shared how the concerned officials have conducted many surveys in the past with suggestions of evacuating everyone that were near to a possible landslide.
She said, “In the past, many surveys have been conducted in the area. There were talks of shifting the residents from the area, but nothing as such ever happened. This happened in 2016 and every monsoon we have to evacuate and stay in neighbours’ home. The authorities tell us that we will be shifted but even after shifting where would we go? We do not have land anywhere else. We feel that the government can give us an area, set up a colony and shift us there… The slide at 3 am was so big that our home started vibrating and we shifted to a cave nearby. The cave itself started vibrating and we thought this our end.”
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Shop owner Sunita Subba near Selfie Dara, a tourist spot in the village, lost her shop to the landslide. She shared, “The compensation maybe given to the landowner, we were using their old home on rent for the past 8-9 years. We have been living here for years running a shop but the authorities say the compensation will be for landowners. We are unsure if we will be compensated. Now I don’t even have my shop, it was a fast food with a lot goods. We had three pigs, belongings at home. Now we do not have a home to go, no place to even shift our saved belongings. Now we don’t even have livelihood. We are local residents and our livelihood dependent on that home, the landowners are our relatives who lost their land but in terms of damages I have lost a home. There are no goods, nor means of earning, nor could we save anything from the shop. We request the government to help us.”
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