Saturday, October 1, 2011

CM directs school repairs to be completed by 09 Oct

HIGH-LEVEL MEETING TAKES STOCK AND ISSUES FRESH DIRECTIONS ON RELIEF AND REHABILITATION EFFORTS
ALTERNATE ACCOMMODATION TO BE ARRANGED FOR SCHOOL BUILDINGS WHICH HAVE COLLAPSED


GANGTOK, 30 Sept: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling convened a high-level meeting with Minister, MLAs, MPs, Advisors, Chief Secretary and Heads of Departments yesterday to take stock of the relief and rehabilitations efforts, issue fresh directives and reiterate that all policy decision taken to help the State and its people overcome the devastation caused by the 18 September earthquake were implemented in the right earnest.

Health workers tour affected areas, reach counsel and medicines

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: The Health Department today released details of the tasks undertaken since the 18 Sept earthquake.
According to a press release forwarded by the IRP Department, NDMRF, New Delhi, visited the relief camp at Merung where 16 households were taking shelter. 26 patients were examined and 1 injury case was treated at STNM Hospital while other systematic diseases were reported with no cases of diarrhea. “IEC was given and 4000 halogen tablets distributed”.

Gangtok Muslims pray for Sikkim, contribute relief funds and materials

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: The Muslim community here came together today to offer special prayers for victims of the 18 September Earthquake. This prayer was offered after the Juma Namaaz [Friday Prayers] at the Gangtok Masjid this afternoon.

Choppers keep busy, evacuate 156 people

GENERATOR AIRLIFTED TO LACHEN
GANGTOK, 30 Sept: Pawan Hans helicopters flew 36 sorties from Mangan on Friday, flying to Chungthang, Lachen and Lachung, reaching and evacuating people and personnel. The two helicopters evacuated 101 people from different locations today.
Similarly, Army spokespersons, Col Ravi Patil informed that army helicopters evacuated 25 people, mostly NDRF personnel, from Chungthang to Gangtok. Among those evacuated from Chungthang were 19 NDRF personnel and one pregnant lady.

Children make art for relief

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: Contributions are coming in from across the State to aid affected people and areas overcome the earthquake devastation and rebuild lives. Each gesture is important and significant and goes a long way towards reinforcing the Sikkimese society. On such heartwarming gesture was displayed by students of the Shrishti Art Class at Tadong.

Ladakhi family contributes Rs. 5 lakh towards CM’s Relief Fund

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: The Ladakhi Family here has contributed Rs. 5 lakh towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
“In this hour of disaster and devastation, the Ladakhi family will be making a humble contribution to the noble effort of rebuilding and rehabilitation of affected people through the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund,” confirmed Guru Ladakhi today.
“We urge fellow citizens of Sikkim and India to open their hearts and contribute generously,” the family has further urged.
He adds that the staff of the Ladakhi Group has also taken the onus to raise funds and materials for the most affected people on their own.

Aidmatric and NDMA teams reach Shipgyer, assess damage

MANGAN, 30 Sept: A relief and survey team comprising of representatives from AidMatrix and National Disaster Management Authority of India, Programme Coordinator Sandeep Kashyap, in coordination with Singtam-based NGO, Spark, accompanied by media-persons toured earthquake affected areas of Dzongu up to Shipgyer an Toong yesterday.
At Toong, 11 kutcha houses at the labour colony were damaged in the earthquake, with even the Police check post there having developed cracks.

Bar Assc coordinates relief, reaches assistance to affected areas

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: The Bar Association of Sikkim (BAS) formed “The 18th September 2011 Earthquake Victims Relief Fund” in order to reach out to all the people willing to aid the victims and generate both monetary as well as material support after obtaining necessary permission from the District Collector, Gangtok, informs a press release issued by General Secretary, BAS.

Paramedics contribute Rs. 10,000 towards CM’s Relief Fund

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: Sikkim Government Medical Male and Female Ward Attendants Association has contributed Rs. 10,000 towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to help rehabilitate the victims of the earthquake and support them in their efforts of restoration, informs a press release issued jointly by the president and general secretary, Thunkit Lepcha and Norbu Bhutia.

NO TIME FOR PETTY POLITICS

Letter:
In context of a recent coloumn in which certain person from Kabi tried to ridicule the effort of Tseten Lepcha of Chungthang in helping the affected people of the area, among which he himself is one, was in bad taste. The comment, “Is it Tseten speaking or Congress” was poor in taste.
Some people have all the time on this earth to play such petty games, instead of being there lending a helping hand. The effort that is being made by Tseten in the ground zero should be appreciated and not ridiculed. This is no time for petty politics.
Gyurme Bhutia, Mangan, North Sikkim

SDM inspects affected houses not covered in earlier inspections

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: In order to address the problems of the affected people of Gangtok overlooked in earlier inspections, the Sub Divisional Magistrate [East], Dr. AB Karki took a tour of 6th Mile, 5th Mile, Tadong, Swastik and Nam Nang, today.
Of the buildings he visited in these areas, two buildings in Swastik and one at Nam Nang had suffered major damages and the report of this will be submitted to the District Collector [East], he informed.

Yuldri-Sum team returns from North assessment tour

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: A team of four members of Yuldri Sum Association, led by Thukchuk Lachungpa, visited Lachung, Lachen and Chungthang on 27 September to check on the ground reality of the area devastated by the 18 September earthquake. They also took a 14 kilometer walk of Lachung and are planning to visit Dzongu in their next trip.

VHAS and SU undertake joint study and relief tour of affected areas

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim in collaboration with Sikkim University undertook the immediate relief activities to the earthquake victims in various places of Sikkim, informs a press release issued by the Executive Director, VHAS, BB Rai. 
The team, till 25 Sept, was engaged in reaching relief in the East District at Nandok, Kamarey and Raley villages. In spite of the inclement weather, the relief team met with the villagers of Kamarey and Raley on 23 Sept and distributed tents to 5 families at Kamarey and 15 families at Raley as an immediate option for shelter.

Red Cross-Sikkim reaches relief and assistance to affected areas

WATER PURIFYING UNIT ISTALLED AT CHUNGTHANG
GANGTOK, 30 Sept: The Indian Red Cross Society [IRCS], Sikkim Branch, has been assisting the state authorities in the earthquake-hit areas by contributing relief materials in North, East and South districts despite the unfavorable weather, a press release informs.
The IRCS state branch general secretary, BK Roka, informs that on the 25 September, two teams visited Linzya, Bey and Mangan in North Sikkim and delivered relief items and on the 26 September, relief items reached Namthang and Borong in South Sikkim.

RTI Forum suggests means to make relief transparent

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: In an open letter to the Chief Minister, the Sikkim RTI Forum has offered suggestions regarding the monitoring of relief funds and effective mechanism for its disbursement.
For every fund related matter, there should be an effective mechanism and 100% transparency to channelize it to the right person, the letter suggests.

Lions pledge Rs. 8 lakh towards relief

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) has announced a contribution of approximately Rs. 8 lakhs in aid of the earthquake victims of Sikkim.
Yesterday, a team of Lions Club International 322 F District visited the earthquake affected areas of the East district and collected details of North district from the concerned authorities.

EPCS pray for earthquake affected, contributes Rs. 1 lakh towards relief fund

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Sikkim, [EPCS] members assembled in the church hall from 6-8 a.m. on 26 Sept to pray for the earthquake victims and bereaved families. The EPCS Council has also handed over a cheque of Rs 1 lakh for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, informs a press release. “It is a humble gesture to show our concern towards our people who are suffering”, the release adds.

Deorali Samaj contributes Rs. 23,000 towards CM’s Relief Fund

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: Deorali Samaj Kalyan Sangh and residents of Deorali pooled resources and contributed Rs. 23,000 towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. They have also donated essential items like gumboots, clothes, blankets and food items for the relief operations. 
The Sangh also convened a meeting on 28 Sept to mourn the earthquake casualties and pray for the bereaved families, informs a press release. The Sangh has also been arranging drinking water supply for people here in light of the reduced water supply.

Animal Husbandry’s East district staff pools one day’s salary for relief

GANGTOK, 30 Sept: Officers and staffs of the Animal Husbandry Department, East District, have pooled a day’s salary and contributed it towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Their contribution totals Rs. 75,210 and has been deposited into the CM’s Relief Fund, informs a press release issued by the Deputy Director Dr. Sanga Dorjee.

PM urges Chamling to lead restoration that makes Sikkim a Model State in Earthquake Mitigation

SIKKIM NOT ALONE IN THIS HOUR OF CRISIS, PM REASSURES, ANNOUNCES RS. 1,000 CRORE INTERIM RELIEF FUND
GANGTOK, 29 Sept: Assuring Sikkim that it was not alone in this hour of crisis, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who made a quick tour of the earthquake affected areas today, announced an interim relief fund of Rs. 1,000 crore for immediate restoration of infrastructure and relief works. The fund, it is informed is exclusively for repairs and restoration of infrastructure and not for ex-gratia distribution.

Army choppers fly more than 10,000 kgs in supplies to North Sikkim

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: Indian Army’s fleet of seven helicopters dedicated to relief operations in Sikkim airlifted more than 10,000 kgs of essential commodities and other supplies to North district today. These helicopters are flying sorties out of Gangtok and Mangan and air-lifting supplies being dispatched by the Food & Civil Supplies Department and relief packets put together by NGOs and aid agencies.

Power Deptt suffers Rs. 261 crore loss to earthquake

SUPPLY RESUMED FOR SHIPGYER, 5 KVA GENERATORS BEING ACQUIRED FOR LACHEN AND LACHUNG
REPAIRS AND REPLACEMENTS UNDERWAY FULL SWING, SECY ASSURES

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: Power projects in the State have suffered a massive setback and monetary loss in the hands of the hands 18 September Earthquake. With the epicenter of the 6.9 tremor reported to be in north Sikkim, it is projects in this region which have suffered extensive damage. The Power Department has estimated damage to state-owned power projects to the tune of Rs. 261 crore, out of which, the State’s power projects in North Sikkim alone have suffered damages estimated at Rs. 100 crore.

Road cleared upto Shipgyer, opening option to drive in hydel tunnel to Chungthang

MANGAN, 29 Sept: The Mangan-Shipgyer road was opened for light vehicles today. The restoration work, undertaken by the 20 Mountain Division’s 52nd Engineer Regiment along with State PWD Department, required 12 [major to minor] landslides cleared from Toong to Shipgyer.

Animal Husbandry team surveys earthquake damage to infrastructure in Chungthang

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: A team of Animal Husbandry Department officers led by Secretary DP Sharma, and including Joint Directors Dr. RK Tamang, Dr. PK Pradhan and Dr. HN Sharma visited and inspected the extent of damage caused by the 18 Sept Earthquake to the Chungthang Sub-Division Veterinary Hospital Complex, officers quarters, staff quarters, Bull Shed and other related structures, informs a press release.

Editorial

rePrint
Today, we reproduce an editorial of the year 2004 vintage and re-present queries that had been triggered by a weak earthquake which had coursed through Sikkim at 9 p.m. on 12 October. This is shared here afresh because seven years down the line, several of the questions unfortunately still continue to confound and the general aimlessness of disaster preparedness and planning continue to bewilder...

Shipgyer Monastery sustains major damage, villagers begin protective works

MANGAN, 29 SEPT:  The Ship Kunzang Choling Monastery at Shipgyer-Ramom GPU has suffered major damage due to the 18 September earthquake. Readers would recall that a Shipgyer resident who walked to Mangan and reached Gangtok recently, had brought horror stories of the Sunday night destruction at the village, the road to which was cleared for light vehicles [with four-wheel drive power] only today.

Lachen not satisfied with scale of relief works: Cho Rapjor

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: “We are not satisfied with the scale of relief works being carried out by the State government with regard to Lachen and its surrounding areas,” conveyed Cho Rapjor Lachenpa, ex-pipon of the Lachen Dzumsa, insisting that he spoke for the present Pipon Champa Kalden and the entire community. Pipon Kalden was scheduled to meet the press, but had to leave early in the morning when he received word that his mother had passed away in Lachen.

“Poverty will make recovery difficult for affected people”


FIRST HAND ACCOUNT: SIKKIM UNIVERSITY TEAM TOURS EARTHQUAKE AFFECTED PARTS OF WEST SIKKIM
A team of faculty members and students of Sikkim University along with some members of Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim (VHAS) toured different village of three Gram Panchayats in Sombarey area under Soreng sub-division of West Sikkim in connection with relief work and assessment study related to the 18 September Earthquake. The team was in West Sikkim on 27 and 28 September.
Due to weak geological structure, the western part of Sikkim in general is prone to landslides, but the tremor, combined with heavy rainfall which followed in subsequent days, triggered landslides which have created havoc in some of the villages in the Sombarey administrative block.

SPCC delegations meets PM

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: A seven-member delegation of Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee headed by its president Nar Bahadur Bhandari met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at Libing Helipad today, informs an SPCC release.
While presenting a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Mr Bhandari apprised the PM that the SPCC functionaries were collecting data on the damage caused by the earthquake in Sikkim and that the same would be submitted as soon as it was ready, the release informs.
The Prime Minister enquired about Mr Bhandari’s health and advised him proper treatment.
The release further mentions that the SPCC has received news of appointment of its vice-president Kunga Nima Lepcha as the general secretary of North East Congress Committee.

People’s Forum on Earthquake formed

GROUP DEMANDS INSTITUTION OF HIGH-POWERED COMMITTEE TO STUDY 18 SEPT EARTHQUAKE, WANTS ALL HYDEL PROJECTS SUSPENDED IN THE INTERIM
GANGTOK, 29 Sept: To introspect on what went wrong in the 18 September earthquake, Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee (SIBLAC) convened a meeting of concerned citizens and members of civil society at Gangtok today, informs a SIBLAC release.
The meeting was attended by High Court lawyer Hemlal Bhandari, SAFE president Bharat Basnet, ASESE&UA president Naveen Kiran, Nagarik Suraksha Sangathan president Prem Goyal, Human Rights lawyer Dr. Doma T Bhutia, retired civil servant SP Subba, Supreme Court advocate Jangpo Sherpa, ACT general secretary Dawa Lepcha, journalist Pabitra Bhandari, NASSS coordinator Sonam Bhutia, Rongong Youth Club advisor Gayching Bhutia, writer Kamal Chamling “Kamrange’, advocate Jigme W Bhutia, journalist Punya Prasad Koirala and others, the release details.

SGC raises Rs. 1.59 lakh for relief and rehabilitation

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: The teaching and non-teaching staff of Sikkim Government College, Tadong, in an effort to contribute towards the relief and rehabilitation efforts, have raised Rs. 1.59 lakh. Of this amount, the staff has contributed Rs. One lakh towards the CM’s Relief Fund and has set aside Rs. 59,000 to aid affected students of the college, informs a press release issued by the Principal, MK Pradhan.

SSACS contributes to CM’s Relief Fund

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: Employees of the Sikkim State AIDS Control Society have contributed one day’s salary towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as an expression of solidarity with victims of the 18 September earthquake, informs a press communiqué issued by the SSACS Project Director. The Project Director and staff of SSACS are greatly shocked and saddened by the loss of lives and property caused by the earthquake, the release adds.

Tadong Yargay Assc commits Rs. 20,000 towards relief measures

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: The Tadong Yargay Association, in its meeting convened on 26 Sept, resolved to contribute Rs. 20,000 as a monetary help towards relief efforts for the earthquake affected.
The meeting also expressed solidarity with and extended condolences to victims of the earthquake, informs a press release issued by the TYA general secretary, Phuchungla Bhutia.

NO MITHAI, LITERALLY...

Empty shelves of a mithai dokan in Gangtok, the entire kitchen staff having fled town in the wake of the 18 September Earthquake. It’s not just hydel projects which have seen their workers quit and flee. In many cases, shop-owners have followed their workers, not in flight, but in the hope that they can convince them to return in time to cater to the demand for sweets which spikes in the approaching season of festivals.

SLYA resolves to coordinate relief and rehabilitation efforts

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: A meeting of the Central Executive Body of the Renjyong Mutanchi Rong Ong Shejum [Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association] was convened on Wednesday at its headquarters under the chairmanship of SLYA president, Ongden Tshering Lepcha, a press release informs.
The meeting expressed deep sorrow on the damage caused by the 18 September earthquake and extended its condolences to the affected people, informs the release issued by SLYA general secretary, Nim Tshering Lepcha.

New Generation Social Society formed for take stock of earthquake damage at Temi

NAMCHI, 29 Sept: All NGOs, SHGs and individuals of Temi-Namphing constituency have come together under the banner of ‘New Generation Social Society’ [NGSS] to take stock of the damages caused to houses, livestock and property in the area by the 18 Sept Earthquake.
A meeting-cum-basic training on Disaster Management for the people of Temi-Namphing was organized recently at the Temi Block Administrative Centre conference hall.

Evangelical Presbyterian Church team visits relief camps in Lower Dzongu

GANGTOK, 29 Sept: A relief team of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Tadong, led by Elder TB Rai visited relief camps set up in the earthquake affected villages of Gor, Sagyong and Santok in Lower Dzongu on 27 Sept, a press release informs.
At Santok, the team was informed of two people to were killed in a landslide triggered by the earthquake. The following day, the team visited Berfok, Toong-Rongong under Berfok GPU. There, the team learned that two persons were buried in a landslide and that their dead bodies had not been recovered yet, informs a press release.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

NDRF details its role and delivery in affected areas

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: A total of 400 personnel of the Natural Disaster Response Force [NDRF] were airlifted from Greater Noida and Kolkata and had reached Bagdogra by early morning of 19 Sept, informs a press release.
Five teams of NDRF reached Gangtok by the same evening and were further deployed in North Sikkim i.e. Mangan on 20 and 21 Sept.  Two teams of NDRF were also deployed in Chungthang and Lachung area while one team is at Gangtok to carry out any rescue operation in the city area. One team is kept at Siliguri as reserve.

Forester shares experience of earthquake seconds and long hours after at Lachung

Aerial view of Lachung
GANGTOK, 28 Sept: Forest Guard Ashok Gurung and his colleagues Dawgey Bhutia, Bhola Nath Dangal and Pravin Baraily were on duty at Lachung when the earthquake struck on 18 September. Being among the few men in uniform in the affected area, the team, led by their BO, Karma Sonam, were among the first to begin rescue operations. FG Gurung was flown to Gangtok on 26 Sept after sustaining injuries during rescue operations.

Bear attack in Upper Dzongu

MANGAN, 28 Sept:  50-year-old Tika Tamang was mauled by a Himalayan Bear at Passingdang in Upper Dzongu today. As per available information, she was collecting fodder near the bridge between Passingdang and Leek villages at around 5.30 this morning when she chanced upon the bear and was attacked.
She was rushed to the District Hospital at Mangan from where the doctors referred her to STNM Hospital because of the critical injuries sustained by her.
Later, a Forest patrolling team led by DFO Territorial (North), Sugen Saring, DFO, KNP, Sangay Bhutia and Range Officer TW Lachung. The Range Officer, while speaking to NOW!, informed that the bear must have entered the Reserve Forest on the left bank of the river Kanaka and then strayed towards the bridge where the incident occurred. He informs that a Forest team with tranquilizer guns will be patrolling the area.

‘Acoustic Prayers’ in aid of earthquake victims

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: In an attempt to contribute support to the earthquake victims in Sikkim who are still in dire need of the basic necessities, “Acoustic Prayers”, a live music performance is being organized on 30 Sept at Little Italy, SNOD complex from 7 pm onwards and on 01 Oct at Live and Loud, Tibet Road, from 8 to 10 pm.
“Two nights of prayers for the souls we have lost and the souls we can save through a medium which is as beautiful and powerful as the soul itself – music! The show aims at raising funds through the entry fee which will then be donated to an organization carrying out relief work in the quake affected areas”, inform the organizers.

Short-circuit sparks fire in Chandmari home

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: A major disaster was averted because of the prompt response of the Fire and Emergency Services here last night when a fire broke out in a residential building at Chandmari, a little ahead of the Forest Checkpost.
“We received a call at around 1.20 a.m. that a fire had broken out in a six storied building at Chandmari. Three fire tenders led by SSO Phurchung Lepcha were immediately dispatched to bring the fire under control,” informs DB Chettri [Additional Superintendent of Police, Fire & Emegrency Services].

Adequate stocks in reserve, Food & Civil Supplies Deptt assures

FRESH CONSIGNMENTS FLOWN TO AFFECTED AREAS OF NORTH SIKKIM
GANGTOK, 28 Sept: The Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department has, between 21 to 28 September, supplied foodgrains to the tune of 44.36 tons to different relief camps set up by the respective District administrations from different food godowns, informs a press release issued by the Department’s Secretary.

Sant Nirankari Mandal contributes Rs. 1.01 lakh to CM’s Relief Fund

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: Sant Nirankari Mandal, Gangtok Branch, has contributed Rs. 1.01 lakh towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to assist the relief and rehabilitation of earthquake victims.
The Mandal has also conveyed its deepest condolences to the bereaved families of lives lost to the earthquake and prayed that the affected people recover soon, informs a press release issued by the organisation’s Sikkim branch president, Meena Chettri.
The condolence meeting of the Mandal was attended by the vice president BB Adhikari, secretary Lok Nath Adhikari, treasurer Prem Kesari and other members, the release adds.

UD&HD orders all excavations stopped, not to issue construction orders for now

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: The Urban Development and Housing Department has notified people to stop all forms of construction activities [“at whatever stage they are at”], till the situation returns to normal.
Through a Notice released today, the department explains that the 18 September earthquake and incessant rains since then have “disturbed the soil heavily”. “Hence, no construction involving earth excavation works shall be permitted since fresh excavation of already disturbed soil is likely to trigger off fresh slides causing damage to life and property,” he Notice details.
The Notice further details that “issue of Construction Orders shall be withheld until further notice”.
The release concludes with an appeal to all “to stop all forms of construction activities till the situation returns to normal”.

 

Choppers buzz with relief activity

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: The two Pawan Hans helicopters have been buzzing in frenetic activity on relief and rescue operations, running 22 sorties on Wednesday alone.
The State government spokesperson, IPR Secretary, KS Topgay, informed that the two Pawan Hans choppers flew these 22 sorties from Mangan to Chungthang and on to Lachen and Lachung today.

Ex-servicemen meet in Jorethang

NAMCHI, 28 Sept: The General Meeting of Akhil Sikkim Ex-servicemen (Army) Welfare Sangh was held at Panchasheel Bhawan, Jorethang on 24 Sept chaired by Subedar CP Pradhan and with honorary Lieutenant PK Pradhan as chief guest.
The meeting thanked the government for providing 21 houses with repairing benefits to the Ex-army personnel of South District in 2010. On the occasion, the Sangh decided to place the demand of increase in educational scholarship from Rs 700 to 1500 and Rs. 10,000 for senior students.

SDF Bhawan Trust coordinates reunion of family thought lost in Bey landslide

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: Arjun Chettri, his wife, Diku Doma and their newborn son who were rescued from the earthquake hit village of Bey and brought to Gangtok were flown back to Chungthang by the SDF Bhawan Trust today.
All these days Diku Doma was admitted at STNM Hospital as she was suffering psychological trauma, informs an SDF press release. The family has reason to cheer despite the harrowing experience of the earthquake with Diku Doma’s mother having been flown to Chungthang yesterday itself and the family united again.
The family, which was thought to have gone missing by people at Bey since the huge landslide tore into houses there, was actually being taken care of by the SDF Bhawan Trust, informs the release.

Area MLA completes North Sikkim tour

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: A team headed by the Lachen-Mangan MLA, Tshering Wangdi Lepcha, toured the earthquake affected areas of Lachung, Lachen and Chungthang, on 25 September offering condolences and reaching relief to the people there.
The MLA was accompanied by Advisor to the Chief Minister, Hissey Lachungpa, SDM, DC and SDPO. The team alighted at Lachung first, and met with the Lachung Pipon and took account of the earthquake damage in the area.

SPCC tours earthquake affected parts of Syari constitutency

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: The Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee president, Nar Bahadur Bhandari, led a party delegation on a tour of earthquake affected on the Gangtok-Bhusk axis under Syari constituency today. An SPCC release detailing the party’s interactions with the affected people, claims that it received complaints of the concerned panchayats leaving Congress supporters out of the relief initiatives.

Thingchim prays for earthquake victims

MANGAN, 28 Sept: Vajra Guru prayers are being offered here at the Kalzang Nyamoo Lhakang Monastery at Thingchim in North Sikkim for victims of the 18 September earthquake. The prayers were organized jointly by the Gumpa committee and the public of Thingchim.

Hamro Prajashakti and Himalayan Mirror contribute to CM’s Relief Fund

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: The editor and publisher, “Hamro Prajashakti’, Anjan Upadhya has expressed deepest regret over the destruction caused by the 18 Sept earthquake and acknowledging the severity of the situation, the two dailies published by him, “Hamro Prajashakti” and “Himalayan Mirror” have contributed Rs. 5,000 each towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Mr. Upadhya has also expressed the need for the people of Sikkim to stand strong and united to overcome the setback.

Gangtok Baptist Church contributes Rs. 50,000 to CM’s Relief Fund

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: The Gangtok Baptist Church, Development Area, has contributed Rs. 50,000 towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to assist the relief and rehabilitation efforts of the State Government.
The church has also conveyed its condolences to the affected families and prayed that the people come together to overcome the destruction caused by the 18 September earthquake, informs a press release issued by Pastor Joseph Tamang.
The church also organized prayer ceremonies on 23 and 24 Sept for the victims.
Also a team of the Church led by the Pastor also visited victims of the earthquake being treated at Central Referral Hospital and handed over blankets, juice, biscuits and flasks to patients there.

Himalayan youth collect aid for affected areas

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: Himalayan Yuva Forum of Development Area is collecting food items and other essential commodities to prepare relief packages for earthquake affected areas. The organisation has already collected some food items and clothes from the area and deposited it with Helping Hands-Sikkim, informs a press release.
The Forum has conveyed its gratitude to all the people of Development Area for their support and further invites interested people to contact- Pankaj Giri at 9933629294, Deborah Rai at 7407384636 or visit their office in Development Area. The Forum does not accept monetary help, the release adds.

Beauty Welfare Assc pools resources to raise relief for Lachung

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: Seventeen beauty parlours of Gangtok have pooled in donations and collected an amount of Rs. 23,875 with which they have purchased blankets, sweaters, shawls, torch-lights and jackets as relief materials to be sent up to Lachung, informed Lata Lepcha, president of the All Sikkim Beauty Welfare Association, while speaking to NOW! today.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Relief and rescue works underway full swing, reassures North Sikkim relief in-charge

GANGTOK, 27 Sep: The PCCF cum Secretary, Forests, NT Bhutia, in-charge of the follow-up action on earthquake damage and relief and rescue operations in the North district, shared today that district administration was working round-the-clock with able assistance from officials of line departments, panchayats, NGOs and the local residents despite the inclement weather and continuing inaccessibility of parts of the worst affected areas to vehicular traffic. 

1,100 of 1,600 hydel labourers evacuated from North Sikkim

LABOUR DEPTT KEEPS WATCH TO ENSURE AFFECTED LABOURERS GET THEIR DUE

GANGTOK, 28 Sept: Nearly 1,100 labourers have been evacuated and accounted for out of an approximate number of 1,600 labourers engaged by various companies in the Chungthang area and beyond.
A team from the Labour department led by the Minister Neeru Sewa, Secretary CT Wangdi and Deputy Labour Commissioner returned to Gangtok on 26 September after spending almost a week in North Sikkim to verify the labour count as well as to see to it that the companies, especially Teesta Urja [the largest employer there], provided the labourers with provisions and medical as well as evacuation facilities. Of this approximate figure of 1,600 labourers, 22 have been recorded as killed in the earthquake.

Forest Dept’s GIS mapping assists relief and rescue in Dzongu

GANGTOK, 27 Sep: Over a hundred frontline personnel of the Forest Department have been engaged in various relief and rescue operations in affected areas of North Sikkim since the 18 September earthquake. Being a department with substantial deployment of personnel in North Sikkim [which has the largest area under forest cover] in the remotest of areas in the district, the Forest Department has played a major role in this time of emergency and is doing a commendable job in working towards restoring normalcy.

Pipon brings status update on Lachung

GANGTOK, 27 Sept: Lachung Pipon Chewang Namgyal, accompanied by four residents of the North Sikkim village, arrived in Gangtok from Lachung in an army helicopter today and brought firsthand accounts of Lachung’s earthquake experience and fatermath.
Accompanied by Thupden Lachungpa, Pema Ongdi Lachungpa, Gyatso Lachungpa and Karma Lhendup, the Pipon stressed that his first message was to students and people from Lachung outside the village at present. “Everyone in Lachung is safe thanks to the blessings of Guru Rinpoche and Lachung Rinpoche and there is no need to worry for any one’s safety,” he said.

Choppers fly again, reach relief and personnel to affected areas

GANGTOK, 27 Sept: With weather clearing up and holding for the day, army helicopters flew numerous sorties in North Sikkim on Tuesday. The choppers airdropped copious amounts of ration and other essential commodities and also evacuated several people from different places. Twelve army helicopters moved 9,408 kgs of supplies along with special equipment like generators, personnel and evacuating 206 stranded people from North Sikkim.

Now That It is No Longer ‘If’...

Editorial:
When natural disasters stop being about ‘if’ and get reinforced with certainty as ‘when’, you know that it is time to get worried. As far as Sikkim is concerned, this ‘when’ has been a ‘now’ for a while. When it comes to nature, it is obvious that occurrences cannot be prevented. Centuries of living in a particular region grooms people to instinctively respect the brute force of nature and adopt lifestyles which mitigate the impact of natural disasters.

Governor inspects earthquake damage in North Sikkim

GANGTOK, 27 Sept: Governor BP Singh visited North Sikkim today for an aerial survey of the earthquake affected areas of Chungthang, Lachen and Lachung, informs a press communiqué received from the PRO, Raj Bhawan.
He was received at Mangan Helipad by Power and Energy Minister, Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, District Collector, Superintendent of Police (N), district officials and scores of local people.

High Court permits Manipal to take in 100 students for now

…SHOULD THE INSTITUTION FAIL TO CONVINCE THE COURT IT WILL HAVE TO COMPENSATE THE ADDITIONAL 50 STUDENTS
GANGTOK, 27 Sept: The Sikkim Manipal Institute of Health and Medical Sciences has been allowed a breather with the High Court of Sikkim allowing it to continue with the intake of 100 students. An ad-interim Order was issued by the court on 23 September permitting the college to continue with the admission process of 100 students; this order was passed by the court keeping in mind the interest of the students and the state as well. The Medical Council of India, it may be recalled, had cut down SMIMS capacity from 100 to 50 students for the new batch. 

Coordinate relief progressing well

INTER-AGENCY RESPONSE GROUP RENAMED HELPING HANDS, SIKKIM

GANGTOK, 27 Sept: At a meeting held on 22 Sept in Gangtok, the umbrella organisation formed under the banner of ‘Inter Agency Response Group’ was renamed ‘Helping Hands, Sikkim’ and two members nominated from each member organisation to coordinate relief efforts, informs a press release.
The organisation is headed by Palzor Lachungpa of TAAS as president, Karma Laden Dorji as vice president, Kailash Agarwal as general secretary and Ashok Sarda as treasurer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Affected people need reassurance, not instigation: CM

CM CALLS FOR PEOPLE TO STAND UNITED TO OVERCOME EARTHQUAKE DEVASTATION
Rs. 1.74 CRORE DISBURSED AS EX GRATIA PAYMENT TO EARTHQUAKE-AFFECTED IN EAST DISTRICT

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling called for public participation to assist the government’s efforts to overcome the devastation caused by the 18 September earthquake. The affected people need reassurance and support, not instigation and confusion, he stressed, underlining that circulation of rumours and half-truths would delay relief and rescue efforts, leaving the affected people even more disadvantaged.
Sikkim, he stressed, needs to stand united in this hour of bereavement and will need the collective effort of all its people to tide over the catastrophe.

1,075 houses destroyed in North Sikkim, projects preliminary report on earthquake damage

MANGAN, 26 Sept: As per a preliminary report prepared by the North District administration, the 18 September earthquake, which claimed 41 lives in the district, has completely damaged 432 RCC buildings and 643 kutcha houses in the district. Meanwhile, 2,965 RCC buildings have registered major damage along with 5,398 kutcha houses. The earthquake also delivered a strong blow to the livestock in the district, killing 2,209 animals [Cows-307, Goats-210, Bulls-232, Pigs-250, Yaks-410, Sheep-800].

Earthquake death toll worked down to 60

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: The death toll of the devastating earthquake of 18 September has come down. The official figure now stands at 60 deaths, down by 17 from the last count of 77 deaths.
This was decided at a meeting held yesterday among police officials, it is informed.
The reason given for the reduction in the numbers of the dead is that 17 deaths have not been confirmed. All the 17 unconfirmed deaths are from North Sikkim.

2,542 houses completely damaged in West Sikkim, 181 families displaced

WEST COMPILES EARTHQUAKE DAMAGE DETAILSGANGTOK, 26 Sept: A staggering 2,542 houses in West district have been fully damaged and 6,765 houses suffered severe damage, the West District administration has submitted to the Relief Commissioner. On last count, the earthquake had displaced 181 families in the district. These families have been sheltered at 20 relief camps spread across four blocks [Daramdin, Soreng, Hee-Martam and Dentam] in West Sikkim, it is informed.

10 buildings marked for demolishment in Gangtok and Singtam

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: A total of 10 buildings in Gangtok and Singtam have been identified for demolishing. While a huge percentage of buildings have been substantially damaged by the earthquake of 18 September, there are some which are not habitable, and furthermore, pose a threat to neighbouring buildings. All such buildings had been ordered to be evacuated by the district administration earlier and now, after an inspection the DC [East], D Anandan, has issued notices to the owners of 10 buildings in East District that their structures should be demolished.

Expert mountaineers assist safe crossovers across Theng landslide zone

STRANDED PEOPLE AT CHUNGTHANG, REASSURED BY EXPERT ASSISTANCE, BEGIN WALKING IT TO MANGAN
RELIEF TEAM DESPATCHED FOR YUMTHANG HOT-SPRINGS
GANGTOK, 26 Sept: The team of four mountaineers led by Kazi Sherpa of Indian Himalayan Centre for Adventure Sports [Chemchey] landed at Chungthang on Sunday. The brought along 300 kgs of rations and their mountaineering expertise to the stranded town. Also yesterday, another team of 4 mountaineers were airdropped at Lachen along with 400 kgs of provisions.

Dzongu House casualty yet to be extracted

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: The person killed in the Dzongu House collapse in Baluwakhani has been identified as Ramakant Singh. While the dead body was spotted yesterday, trapped in the collapsed stairwell of the building, the NDRF, Army and Sikkim Police teams who have been working at the site for the past two days have not been able to extract it yet.

MHA team to assess damage

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: A relief committee team from New Delhi is scheduled to reach Gangtok on Tuesday to assess the earthquake damage. The team will be led by Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Shambhu Singh, and include officials from all concerned Ministries. The team is scheduled to visit all four districts to assess the damage suffered.

Chopper grounded again

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: Due to bad weather and poor visibility, no helicopter sorties were possible today to North Sikkim. It is however informed that adequate food supplies have already been reached to the cut-off affected areas.

Comfort Traumatised Minds in Affected Areas

Editorial:
A NOW! correspondent was aggressively berated by a Chungthang resident [an elected representative] when he arrived at this extensively damaged sub-divisional town of North Sikkim on Sunday, exactly a week since the Earthquake. The complaint was that ‘local’ media was arriving at ‘ground zero’ too late, much after the national TV camera crews had covered the town. The allegations were numerous and digressed to a wide swathe of perceived and felt slights.

Landslide blocks Mangan-Gangtok Highway, again

MANGAN, 26 Sept:  The Mangan-Gangtok highway which had been restored recently after landslides caused by the 18 September earthquake had blocked it. This route was blocked again yesterday by a landslip at Phodong, around 30 km from Mangan towards Gangtok. Around 50 feet of the road has been swamped by boulders and debris. As for the reopening of this road, no projections can be made because till this evening, no restoration work had begun.

SU team lists urgent requirements for cut-off villages of Dzongu

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: A Sikkim University relief and recce team which entered Dzongu yesterday has conveyed word that the villages of Mangzing, Kassel and Katong in Upper Dzongu were cut-off from all sides due to fresh landslides triggered the continuous rain of the past few days.

Paljor Stadium relief camp hosts 13 families

AMEET OBEROIGANGTOK, 26 Sept: A total of 13 families are at present camped in the four rooms of a relief camp set up at the Paljor Stadium here in Gangtok. While five families [a total of 23 people] are from Arithang, six families [24 people] are from Sichey and two families [13 people] are from below the Paljor Stadium area.
The families from Arithang moved to the relief camp on 21 September, the Sichey families arrived here on 25 September and the families from below the Paljor Stadium area moved in today.

SDF accuses Opposition of using people trauma to push political agendas

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: The ruling SDF party has accused the opposition parties of exploiting the trauma of a natural disaster to further their political agendas by issuing misinformed and intentionally falsified comments on the relief and rescue works.
“It is a shame that the opposition should exploit the psychological trauma of the people as a weapon to gain political ground when the state has not even fully recovered from the tragedy,” rues an SDF press release issued by the party general secretary, publicity, TN Sharma today.

Rhenock school reports earthquake damage

RHENOCK, 26 Sept: The 18 September earthquake has left the Government Senior Secondary School, Rhenock, with some major and minors cracks in the school buildings. Though the school has re-opened, students and teachers of the school are still shaken by the experience. [all schools in the State have now been closed and will reopen after the Dasain holidays on 10 October 2011]
The Science lab has suffered some damage which will take time and funds to repair. There are some major cracks on the beams, walls and floor of the primary section while some minor cracks have developed on the wall of the assembly ground in the main school building, it is learnt.

Food & Civil Supplies releases details of relief despatched to North Sikkim

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: A total of 16 sorties undertaken by the Indian Army and Air Force helicopters between 21 to 25 Sept, air-lifted and distributed ration sent by the Food and Civil Supplies Department, informs a press release issued by the Department.
The ration included, 7,160 kgs of rice, 830 kgs atta, 1,100 kgs dal, 250 kgs salt, and 315 litres of mustard oil were dispatched for Chungthang. 25,180 kgs of rice, 580 kgs atta, 520 kgs dal and 130 litres mustard oil was sent to Mangan. 2,300 kgs rice, 25 kgs salt, 25 kgs dal and 45 litres of mustard oil was sent for Lachen while 2,350 kgs of rice, 25 kgs salt, 200 kgs dal, and 60 litres mustard oil were dispatched for Lachung.

Sangtong Samaj organizes prayers for earthquake affected

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: Vajra Guru Mantra, Pharchey Lamsel and Menlom prayers were carried out by Sangtong Samaj, Ranka Dhajey from 23 to 25 Sept to offer prayers for the earthquake affected and to seek the restoration of normalcy in the State.
The prayers were led by Champa Tashi Ongyel Bhutia and joined by 12 monks and was also participated by the SDF party in-charge, Upper Burtuk, DT Lepcha, officials and local residents, informs a press release.
The Puja Committee has thanked all who attended the prayers.

One arrested on charges of circulating pamphlets against PS Tamang

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: Office secretary of SDF Block Level Office of Hee Bazaar, West Sikkim, Ram Kishore Subba, has been taken into custody on charges of circulating a malicious pamphlet against Upper Burtuk MLA, PS Tamang, informs a press release issued by Jacob Khaling, a former SDF panchayat now aligned with Mr. Tamang.
This followed from an FIR lodged by the Birkha Man Subba, Tenzing Bhutia and Ashok Pradhan at the Hee Police Out Post on 24 Sept alleging that the pamphlet was being circulated by the said office secretary of the SDF Block Level Office. The release has also condemned the circulation of such pamphlets by the ruling party.

MLA visits earthquake affected parts of Chujachen

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: Chujachen MLA, Puran Kumar Gurung, visited the earthquake affected areas of his constituency from 23 to 26 Sept. He started his visit from Sishney along with the wards of Lingtam-Padamchen GPU.
The MLA visited Chandaney where 16 houses have collapsed while 3 houses have been damaged in Hatticherey and Mangkhim wards. Similarly, Mr. Gurung visited Rongli Bazar along with SDPO Rongli CC Bhutia, Panchayat President, Dawa Tshering Bhutia and others.

Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD self-help tip 1: Reach out to others for support
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can make you feel disconnected from others. You may be tempted to withdraw from social activities and your loved ones. But it’s important to stay connected to life and the people who care about you. Support from other people is vital to your recovery from PTSD, so ask your close friends and family members for their help during this tough time.

Chettri Bahun Sangh resolves to assist relief and rehablitation

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: The Akhil Sikkim Khas Chettri Bahun Sangh, in a condolence meeting convened yesterday, observed 2 minutes silence to mourn the earthquake deaths. The meeting, convened under the chairmanship of ASKCBS president, IL Sharma, prayed that those who have sustained injuries make a speedy recovery and expressed that the Sangh stands by all the bereaved families.

From Kewzing…

The Mangbrue Chorten near Kewzing in South Sikkim, believed to be more than 200 years old, collapsed due to earthquake of 18 September. We, the people of this area, conduct special prayers at this Chorten every year in October. The time for this annual prayer is approaching, and we have all come together and pooled our resources in cash and kind to rebuild at least a temporary Chorten for the prayers. Houses and buildings, including govt offices, schools and monasteries, in anad around Kewzing have suffered substantial damage due to the earthquake. Four buildings at Dalep basti have collapsed. The area MLA, Sonam Gyatso Bhutia, along with government officials and panchayats have visited all the areas. Let us all stand united and help restore normalcy.
NT Lucksom, Kewzing [recvd on email]

Inner Wheel launches Cancer helpline

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: A cancer helpline sponsored by the Inner Wheel Club of Gangtok and Rotary Club of Gangtok was launched yesterday, informs a press release.
District Chairman, IWC Gangtok, Dr. Wasima Jahan Siddique inaugurated the Cancer helpline while DGE Dr. Yogesh Verma highlighted the cancer scenario in Sikkim. He informed that Sikkim  has a predominance  of  stomach  cancer  among  males  and  cervical  cancer  in  females, the release informs.

Rangpo Lions help dispel dam rumours

RANGPO, 26 Sept:  Following rumours of a dam-burst at the Teesta Stage-V site at Dikchu which created much panic among people downstream, members of the Lions Club of Rangpo Gateway of Sikkim visited the Dikchu dam returned with video footage and photographs to prove that the dam was fine.

Shapten underway at Deorali Sheda

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: Sikkim Institute of Higher Nyingma Studies [Sheda] College at Deorali, Gangtok is continuously conducting shapten (prayer) for those killed in the 18 September earthquake, the well being of all who survived and in order to prevent further disasters like the Sunday earthquake, informs a press release.
The Principal, Dr. Khenpo L Tshering, and other professors along with students and other devotees are attending the prayer.

Lanco organises blood donation camp

RANGPO, 25 Sept: Lanco Foundation-Sikkim, with the support of the Bikmat Farmers Club and Himalayan Education Society of Karek, organised a blood donation camp at Sirwani Barrek yesterday for those injured in the recent quake. 25 units of blood were collected and deposited at STNM Hospital blood bank in Gangtok. [from SANJAY AGARWAL]

Gurung Sangh condoles earthquake devastation

GANGTOK, 26 Sept: A condolence meeting of the Akhil Sikkim Gurung (Tamu) Boudha Sangh was convened on 23 Sept at its office here at DPH Road chaired by its president, HB Gurung.
The meeting prayed for the lives lost to the earthquake and extended its deepest condolences to the affected families, informs a press release issued by the publicity secretary, Kamal Gurung.

Candle rally in Singtam

RANGPO, 26 Sept: A candle rally was organised at Singtam in the memory of those killed in the 18 September earthquake. The rally, organised by Spark, a Singtam-based NGO. The rally started from the police station complex, moved towards the main bazaar, through Lal Bazaar, Gos-khan Danda, National Highway 31A and concluded at the police station where a peace prayer was led by the Sai Samiti of Singtam. [from SANJAY AGARWAL]

Tadong prayers for earthquake victims

GANGTOK, 25 Sept: Prena Samaj of Gairi Gaon here organized condolence prayers at the Tadong Durga Mandir yesterday for the lives lost in the 18 September earthquake and those who continue to suffer its effects.
The ceremony included the lighting of eleven hundred lamps and began at 6:11 in the evening, coinciding with the one week anniversary of the earthquake.
The prayers were joined by residents of the area and also attended by Daragaon ward councilor Bhasker Basnet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

CHUNGTHANG NEEDS


The list below is in addition to the requirement listed posted yesterday.
Tseten Lepcha, based in Chungthang at present, informs that the town is in urgent requirement of the following:
1. WLL Phones [handsets]: The only telecom service still operational in Chungthang is the BSNL WLL network. Although some residents have WLL phones and more were provided by the BSNL authorities, these are all the old model, bulky phone sets. WLL connections are also available in mobile handset models. These are essentially required for the relief teams working out of town but within the WLL coverage. These teams, which have to negotiate difficult landslides and guide people leaving town on foot [no heliservices again due to inclement weather] find the old model phones too bulky and cumbersome. They could use the more convenient mobile handset variants. WLL connectivity is expected to be restored for Lachung soon and installed at Lachen as well, it is informed. These are large villages and have several outlying settlements for whom mobile handset models will be more convenient.
2. READY-TO-EAT NOODLES: While provisions have been coming in, the best and most convenient option for the relief camps are ready-to-eat instant noodles.
3. GENERATORS: Power & Energy Department engineers now stationed in Chungthang have deployed some ingenious wiring and lighting options and have ensured that all the streetlights in Chungthang are function through the night. These are being powered by generators in station. Similar options will also be devised for Lachung, Lachen and other areas further north and at other locations in Chungthang as well. Gensets are however in short supply and lighter and smaller Gensets will be of great use for the many [seven on last count] relief camps set up in Chungthang.
4. SATTELITE PHONES: While a batch of Sat-Phones have been sent for Chungthang, Lachung and Lachen, the reliable communication they provide has people in the affected area hoping that more sets can be released to the area.
5. VSAT: Lachung has a VSAT installation at a private hotel but has no power supply at present. These, if sponsored by larger aid agencies or collectively by groups, will be of immense help.


The above list, it may be added here, is to complement the list posted here, not to replace it. The need for Tarpaulins, candles and protective gear against rains remains as urgent.

Chungthang, a week later: A sub-divisional town crawling back to normalcy

A barber shop stays open for business at Chungthang, a sign of life limping back to normalcy in this substantially devastated North Sikkim town

The State Bank of Sikkim branch at Chungthang has relocated out of its damaged building into a new corner. The office was reopened on Friday.

GANGTOK, 25 Sept: Despite the vast and massive devastation and damage to life and property left in the trail of landslides triggered by the intense earth shake of 18 September, the North district town of Chungthang, in many senses the Ground Zero for the scale of destruction suffered by it, is limping towards normalcy, a week since the incident. Even as there is death and destruction all round, the Sub-Divisional Office here in Chungthang is still functioning, vastly aided by the 12 sets of WLL phones and 1 satellite phone provided by BSNL which has made communication finally possible.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the SDM office was occupied with rescue and evacuation operations.

At Chungthang: Houses damaged, people rattled

Moonlight School in Chungthang which took substantial damage on the night of 18 September. Four dead bodies have been recovered from this complex, including one on 25 September.

Another damaged Building in Chungthang
A precariously perched structure in Chungthang. The building has suffered substantial damage and the toppled spire continues to keep everyone on tenterhooks.

CHUNGTHANG, 25 Sept: Chungthang is by far the worst affected town which has suffered a trail of devastation and destruction left by the earthquakes. A series of landslides triggered by the 6.9 strong tremor of 18 September brought down a pall of gloom with as many as 13 deaths registered in Chungthang alone, many claimed still missing and almost all houses and structures hare having taken damage to some extent.
With most structures now unsafe and residents still insecure about returning to even houses which have suffered only minor damage, most are still sleeping in the camps and open spaces with a few beginning to return to their houses now that it has been a week since the calamity.
The Chungthang SDM office has conducted a preliminary investigation of the damages in and around Chungthang though there has not been enough time for a detailed examination yet. The preliminary report suggests that 90 houses in Chungthang have been totally damaged. The town has about 120 households. Of the 90 totally damaged houses, 25 are informed to be uninhabitable.

“Where is the Government?” people ask


CHUNGTHANG, 25 Sept: “Where is the government”? is the question on everyone’s lips at Ground Zero, Chungthang. A week after the devastating earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale and after having experienced the brunt of devastation and isolation in the aftermath, there is no senior government or political presence at the north district sub-divisional town. Now that the initial travails of survival and organizing relief have settled down, the people are bursting with pent up anger and high emotion at their having to fight their battle for survival on their own. “Where is the CM, even our area MLA has not enquired about us in enough detail,” says a local.
With Chungthang, Lachen, Lachung and surrounding villages bearing the brunt of the trail of devastation left by landslides triggered by the earthquake, it was expected that the relief operations would be administered and supervised by senior government presence. The people seem totally disillusioned by both the political dispensation as well as the government.

Sheltered at Gurudwara Nanak Lama Sahib, Chungthang



There are about 300 people, mostly labourers, at the relief camp opened at the “Gurudwara Nanak Lama Sahib”, Chungthang, campus where a community kitchen [Langar] prepares food for around 3,000 people everyday, inform Kuldeep Singh and Sada Singh from the Kar Seva Bangla Saheb, New Delhi. They had come here in March. The Gurudwara committee members inform that people are coming in there from Lachen, Lachung, Dombang and Thangu.

Labourer flight from North Sikkim bottlenecks at Chungthang

Scenes at the Chungthang helipad on Sunday, 25 Sept 2011. Around 400 people, mostly labourers engaged at various project sites in the district are camped in Chungthang waiting for a chopper flight out. While food supplies are holding thus far, the lack of clean drinking water and adequate sanitation are a big worry.


GANGTOK, 25 Sept: Most of the people from villages around Chungthang have come down to the sub-divisional town where several [seven on last count] relief camps have been opened by the army, residents and the administration.
Prem Subba has come down from Thangu [beyond Lachen]. There is massive damage, he says, on the road towards Thangu. He says that the situation at Zema III is also dangerous.
Sonam has also come down from Thangu. According to her, no one is staying in the houses due to fear of structural failure. Most people are sleeping in tents at the camps.

6-member expert committee to ascertain stability of North Sikkim towns


GANGTOK, 25 Sept: State government has formed a six-member expert group who will fly to Lachung and Chungthang on Monday to ascertain the stability of the land there. They will prepare a report of the land stability and submit it to the government, informed the State Government spokesperson, IPR Secretary KS Topgay today.
This expert committee is headed by the retired Principal Director, Tshering Tashi, and has UD&HD Additional Chief Engineer, Devika Sharma Chettri, Seismologist Dr Amita Singhal from IIT Roorkee, Geo Technical Engineers Dr DK Maheswari and Dr Yogendra Singh from IIT Roorkee as members.
The committee, it is informed, was formed in response to people’s fears about the stability of the North Sikkim towns. These fears, sparked by rumours and misinformation have reached near panic levels and a study by experts was hence commissioned.
The group is scheduled to fly out to Lachung in the first helicopter sortie out of Gangtok on Monday.
Meanwhile, Joint Director, Land Revenue & Disaster Management Department, GC Khanal, informed that the Union Home Ministry has provided detachable tents for North Sikkim of which two are expected to reach Gangtok on Monday.

SU relief teams fan out in affected areas


GANGTOK, 25 Sept: Two relief teams of Sikkim University reached earthquake affected areas in East and North Sikkim today, carrying out a recce of requirements in these areas and also reaching relief aid.
One team reached Sankalang last evening and dropped rations and camped there.
This morning, the team hiked to Upper Burfok and then on to Toong and Rungrung in the Upper Dzongu region, it is informed.
At Toong and Rungrung, people are still not returning to their homes at night. They visit it only during the daylight to eat and they work outside, the team found.

Skies clear, relief and evacuation picks up

This was the situation in Sunday. Sikkim woke up overcast on Monday and the rain continues. Helicopter sorties are stranded again.

GANGTOK, 25 Sept: After two days spent stranded at helipads, helicopter sorties reaching aid and evacuation to earthquake affected areas cut off from road communication began this morning.
A senior Army official informed today that nine army helicopters flew many sorties, dropping rations and reaching people to affected areas and evacuating stranded people from different parts of North Sikkim today.
He informed that the helicopters have dropped a four-member group of expert mountaineers and 300 kgs of rations and 2 tents at Chungthang, 400 kgs of ration and four civilians at Lachen and 800 kgs of ration and seven civilians and 2 radio communication equipment with 2 technicians at Lachung from Gangtok. Supplies were also airlifted to Shipgyer, Leek, Hee Rabong and Barfok villages in Dzongu.

Yuldrisum Yargey wants Toong-Chungthang road tunneled


GANGTOK, 25 Sep: The Yuldrisum Yargey Association, a social organization comprising of people from Lachen, Lachung, Chungthang and other surrounding areas of North Sikkim, has decided to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister during his Sikkim visit scheduled for Tuesday proposing that the Centre “permanently” solve the problem of unreliable road connectivity to North Sikkim due to landslides. A week since the 18 September earthquake, roads beyond Toong [16 kms short of Chungthang] remain closed due to landslides triggered by the quake.
The Yuldrisum Yargey believes that the connectivity problem will be solved to a large extent if the road from Toong to Chungthang is tunneled.
“The proposal to carry out the same has been submitted to the government and we request the CM to expedite the matter and pursue it with the Centre as this is in the best interest of the people of Sikkim,” informed Thukchuk Lachungpa, spokesperson for the association while addressing the media today.
Mr. Lachungpa highlights that if the Centre sanctions the project in time, the logistic challenges will be mitigated to a large extent since the tunnel digging equipment with the Teesta Urja [for Stage-III] are still in the region and can be redeployed for the new project.

SIBLAC thumbs down ‘aerial’ coverage by national news channels


GANGTOK, 25 Sept: The Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee (SIBLAC), in a press release issued today, has alleged that “national news channels have failed in their duty by doing disproportionate coverage of the tragedy”.
Citing “defense sensitivity” as one of the causes of their “failure”, the organization complains that TV crews took only an “aerial overview” of the Indo-China border, but no coverage was devoted to the severely affected areas like Lachung, Lachen and Dzongu, suggesting “that members of national news channels did not visit these areas which they could have easily accessed by helicopters that were placed in their service”, the release contends.

Casualty discovered in ‘Dzongu House’ collapse


GANGTOK, 25 Sept: The east district administration has ordered the dismantlement of Dzongu House which collapsed a couple of days ago near Vajra Cinema, Gangtok, pushing a neighbouring over as well. The police also discovered another body buried in the structure last night. While it was suspected that one more person was in the building when it collapsed, the body could not be found. It was only late last night that the body was found, but as of now, the police and army have not been able to recover it.

Bhandari returns, discusses damage assessment and relief with Congress workers


GANGTOK, 25 Sept: President, Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee [SPCC], Nar Bahadur Bhandari, returned to Sikkim from Delhi [where he was undergoing treatment for the past more than a month] today, informs an SPCC release.
Mr Bhandari was received at Rangpo by the Pradesh Mahila Congress President, Chumsang Shenga, PCCs, East District Congress Committee President, B B Basnett, members of Frontal Organizations and other party functionaries.
On arrival at the Party Head Office at Jiwan Theeng Marg, Mr Bhandari called a high level meeting to discuss the progress made by the party in assessing the damages caused by the earthquake all over Sikkim and to discuss further action to be initiated to provide help to the victims of the earthquake, the release informs.

BJP team reaches North Sikkim, unhappy with missing State presence in affected areas


GANGTOK, 25 Sept: A Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] central committee team led by Chairman of the Committee on Petitions, Rajya Sabha, Bhagat Singh Koshyari and former MP, Tapir Gaur accompanied by BJP Sikkim Incharge, Indrasen Reddy and BJP state president, Padam Chettri visited the affected areas of North Sikkim this morning. They visited Chaten, Lachung and Chungthang.
Addressing a press conference later in the evening, Mr. Singh informed that senior BJP leaders had advised them to make a visit to the state and see first-hand the status and examine the actual situation of the affected areas.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All villagers safe and unharmed, confirms Lachenpa flown to Gangtok

IGP [Law & Order] SD Negi meets Lachenpas outside the monastery at Lachen. The IGP flew into Lachen on Sunday after three frustrating days of aborted flights due to inclement weather. All Lachenpas are safe and no one injured although buildings have taken a bad hit. 

Lachenpas in prayer at the Lachen Monastery
CONTACT ESTABLISHED WITH LACHEN
GANGTOK, 25 Sept: IGP SD Negi, landed at Lachen today, establishing face-to-face contact with the cut-off village in North Sikkim. While there had been much heartburn because no official statement had been issued yet on the situation at Lachen, it was confirmed today that this North district town has come out of the 18 Sept earthquake unscathed in as much as no casualties are reported from there even as 18 houses have been substantially damaged here and other structures have suffered damage as well.
The IG spent around half an hour conferring with the people at Lachen at the monastery where everyone has gathered and where special prayers were being held today.

Happy Reunion


A full week since the 18 September temblor, Deo Kumari Chettri of Lower Rakdong is all smiles after reuniting with her ‘missing’ husband after one week of anxious wait for her husband employed at the Chungthang project site. She had no information on her husband since the earthquake struck. Readers might recall the NOW! report on her desperation, of how she was camped at Mangan and undertook daily treks over treacherous terrain to Naga in search of her husband, Gopal Chhetri. They finally reunited today when one of the helicopter sorties from Chungthang to Mangan had him aboard.

NEEDED AT CHUNGTHANG


1. TARPAULIN SHEETS: To cover damaged buildings so that water does not seep through cracks, making structures even weaker. Also for use at relief camps for flooring and protection from rain.
2. CANDLES: Desperately required because stocks have run out after a week of no electricity. If solar lamps can be provided, even better.
3. KEROSENE STOVES: Although kerosene is being sourced from army supplies and other stocks, the relief camps desperately need more kerosene stoves.
4. BOTTLED WATER or WATER PURIFYING TABLETS: With the water supply completely devastated, Water Supply and PHE Department engineers have managed to draw line from Kalapathar to Chungthang. This supply is not adequate and extremely muddy. While bottled water would be ideal for health reasons, adequate supplies may prove difficult to reach to Chungthang and areas beyond. In that event, water purifying tablets should be immediately reached to prevent outbreak of waterborne diseases. Remember, people fleeing from Lachung and other areas further north of Chungthang are camping at Chungthang for a safe way home.

FOR THE RELIEF AND RESCUE TEAMS [although these are required by other people as well]
1. TORCHLIGHTS: Relief workers will find these extremely handy.
2. RAIN COATS: The weather has not been helpful of late and Relief volunteers have been plodding through rain and slush without waterproof gear. Rain coats will make their work easier.
3. GUM BOOTS: For the same reason as above.
The relief workers at Chungthang suggest that the supplies be reached over road to Toong-Naga, till where the roads have been cleared. There is an operational helipad at Naga from where the supplies can be airlifted quicker to Chungthang and areas beyond. They also suggest that relief packages be clearly marked for destinations intended so that there is no confusion.
[List prepared from a conversation with Tseten Lepcha, currently based in Chungthang]

Essential commodities air-lifted to remote Dzongu, 10 stranded people flown out

A rescue team comprising of Indian Reserve Battalion (IRBn), Sikkim Armed Police (SAP) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) headed from Toong to Theng in North Sikkim where some dead bodies are yet to be recovered.

WANGCHUK BHUTIA
MANGAN, 24 Sept: Inclement weather and poor visibility over Gangtok did not allow any helicopter flights to take off from the capital to destinations in North Sikkim, but a brief opening in Mangan was well utilised by army helicopters based there to reach food supplies to cut off villages of Dzongu and also evacuate 10 persons from two villages.
Senior Army officials, while addressing a press conference in Gangtok, informed that two smaller helicopters stationed in Mangan flew several sorties into Dzongu today.
The two helicopters delivered 710 kg of dry ration [ready-to-eat meals] to Sakyong and another 600 kg of dry ration to Pentong beyond Bey today. The residents of Bey have all evacuated to Mangan, save a senior citizen who has refused to leave the village. Relief teams have stocked enough supplies there for him and are keeping a lookout for him there as well.

Chungthang SDM walks it to Lachung

Lachung, North Sikkim. A landslide, one of many on the 22 km Chungthang-Lachung road.
GANGTOK, 24 Sept: Sub Divisional Megistrate, Chungthang, Tashi Chopel, the senior-most State Government official at the devastatingly hit North Sikkim town, has a large beat to cover, covering the entire stretch north of Chungthang.
He was in station on the evening of 18 September when the earthquake struck, damaging more than 80% of the structures there leaving 12 dead and many injured. This has been the worst hit town of the State and the officer has had his hands full, his task starting immediately last Sunday with handling the rescue of people trapped in a collapsed building there. He has had to look out for the more than 2,000 people living in Chungthang will still coordinating efforts to reach relief to affected areas in the sub-division.

“Ex gratia payments will not differentiate between locals and non-locals”


CM TOURS EARTHQUAKE AFFECTED AREAS IN SOUTH SIKKIM

PURAN TAMANG
NAMCHI, 24 Sept: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling arrived in South Sikkim today as part of his tour of earthquake-affected areas of the State. The CM, it may be recalled, was in North Sikkim yesterday. At Namchi, he met the victims of the earthquake recuperating at the Namchi District Hospital and handed over cash aid of Rs. 50,000 each to them. The Chief Minister also interacted with the victims, consoling them urging them to find the resolve to build their lives afresh. He also announced today that the ex-gratia payments announced for the earthquake affected will be released equally and without discrimination between locals and non-locals.
He also inspected the hospital premises and called on other patients admitted there, handing over cash assistance to them as well.
Earlier, the CM addressed a gathering at the Indoor Gymnasium Hall and stressed that the State was going through a very difficult phase and needed its people to stand strong and united to ensure that the more affected parts and people recovered from the calamity.

Earthquake death toll holds at 77


GANGTOK, 24 Sept: The death toll to the 18 September earthquake holds at 77 as no reports have come in of new casualties discovered or recovered from any part of the State on Saturday. As per these latest figures, 59 lives have been lost in North Sikkim, 13 in East, South Sikkim-01 and West Sikkim four.
In North Sikkim, Mangan, Lachen and Lachung have recorded 13 casualties, Damang and Lingdong in one each, Saffo in Upper Dzongu - 02, Toong - 04, Sophok [Adit-V] - 08, Chungthang - 12, Salem-Pakyel - 11 and Bey seven.

Tarjum reaches relief to Dzongu


GANGTOK, 24 Sept: A six-member team of Renjyong Mutanchi Rong Tarjum [Sikkim Lepcha Association] led by their president, Sonam Dupden Lepcha, visited the earthquake affected areas of North Sikkim on 22 September, informs a press release.
The team interacted with the members of seven households of Bey block in Upper Dzongu at 4th mile Mantan and handed over relief items to them, the release informs.

CLOS blames hydel projects for earthquake devastation


GANGTOK, 24 Sept: Activities like the use of explosives to develop mega power projects in areas like Dzongu, Chungthang and Lachung that weakened the land stability making these areas the worst affected by the recent earthquake, claims a press release issued by Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim [CLOS].
Reiterating their stand against mega power projects in the area, the release ‘entreats’ policymakers to “rethink, reassess and scrap all 14 power projects that are in operation or being proposed in the region, thereby respecting the area as the sacred and protected reserve of the Lepchas”.
CLOS has called upon all Sikkimese to exert pressure on all the concerned authorities to immediately scrap these power projects.

159 year old Ringhem Monastery, Mangan


MANGAN, 24 Sept:  The more than a century and a half year old Ringhem Choling Monastery above Mangan was extensively damaged in the 18 September earthquake with 70% of the structure, including statues inside the monastery, having crumbled away.
Karma Bhutia, president, Ringhem Choling Monastery, while speaking to NOW! informed that the monastery was constructed in 1852 and renovated in the year 1913. The statues and other belongings of the monastery have been taken out and kept in house nearby in the monastery premises, he informed.
Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, it may be recalled, had visited the monastery yesterday and assured immediate reconstruction and directed the area MLA to begin the process forthwith.

Engineers deputed to inspect structural strength of buildings


GANGTOK, 24 Sept: The State Government today appointed a team of engineers to inspect buildings in Gangtok, Ranipool and Rangpo and advice house-owners on the structural health of their homes and recommend repair, renovation or demolition as the condition might require. This in response to the extensive damage caused to structures by the earthquake of 18 September.
The Office Order issued by the DC, East, today, directs the appointed engineers to submit a detailed report on houses inspected by them and advice given, to the District Control Room at MG Marg by 6 p.m. every day.
While engineers and architects of the UD&HD had begun inspecting buildings in and around Gangtok on 19 September itself, with the latest development, the team has been reinforced with more civil engineers.

BSNL to provide Sat Phones for Lachen and Lachung


GANGTOK, 24 Sept: BSNL has assured to provide two satellite phones to the State Government for use in areas which remain without reliable telecommunication services thus far. These, State Government officials inform, are expected to be handed over on Sundat and delivered immediately to Lachen and Lachung in North Sikkim.

Mountaineers despatched to Lachen and Lachung


GANGTOK, 24 Sept [IPR]: The State Government has organized an 18-member team of mountaineers to travel to Lachen and Lachung for relief and rehabilitation measures. They are professionals in mountain travelling and will assist in relief and rehabilitation operations there.

Sikh youth from Siliguri drive in relief materials


GANGTOK, 24 Sept: The Sikh Sangat [youth] of Siliguri, West Bengal, registering soladarity with victims of the 18 September earthquake, today brought in five jeep-loads of relief materials and food items to be sent up to North Sikkim.
“We are here to provide all the help that the State Government requires from us and will be providing further relief and other necessary materials as and when needed”, informed Sarvajit Singh, president, Sikh Youth Forum of Siliguri, while speaking to NOW! at the Libing Helipad here today.

Offices relocated following earthquake damage to Tashiling


GANGTOK, 24 Sept [IPR]: Following the damage suffered by the Tashiling Secretariat due to the 18 Sept earthquake, five departments housed in the complex have been shifted to new locations.
These are:
1. Department of Personnel, which is now housed in the Community Hall, Development Area, Gangtok
2. Home Department to State Guest House, Gangtok
3. Human Resource Development Department to the DIET Building, Gangtok
4. Law Department is now housed in the Palace Guest House, Gangtok
5. Chief Minister’s Office at Samman Bhawan, Gangtok.

UCWSS measures up to assist Sikkim’s recovery


GANGTOK, 24 Sept: The United Christian Welfare Society, Sikkim, [UCWSS] has appealed to church leaders to keep their congregations updated with correct information and maintain calm and perseverance in the face of the devastation caused by the 18 September earthquake in Sikkim. The organization has called on its members to cooperate with the district administration in relief and rehabilitation efforts. On its contributions towards the rebuilding efforts, the organization has resolved to contribute to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and has also submitted details with Blood Bank authorities of UCWSS members ready to donate blood as and when required.

Excessive silt and trash halts power generation at Stage-V


GANGTOK, 24 Sept: The NHPC has has temporarily shut down power generation at Teesta Stage-V power station due to excessive silt and trash in the Teesta. An NHPC press release informs that generation was stopped on 22 September at 7:50 a.m. Stage-V has its dam at Dikchu and power station at Sirwani near Singtam.
The several landslides upstream in North Sikkim have loaded Teesta with excessive silt and debris, convincing NHPC to stall generation “as a preventive measure”.
Excessive silt can damage the underwater components of the turbine and presence of high volumes of trash in the reservoir restricts the flow of water to the machine, the release explains.
D. Chattopadhyay, Chief Engineer in-charge, Teesta-V Power Station, has assured that the power station will resume generation after “getting the silt and trash content in the water within the permissible limit”.