Landslide over Lachen Chu pushes debris into Teesta, dams open gates, river swells

June 18, 2019


Mangan, 17 Jun:

A suspected case of cloud-burst in the higher reaches of North Sikkim triggered a massive landslide at Lachen Phaka this morning. Debris from the landslide, made up of trees and boulders, added to the already swelling Lachen Chu which empties into the Teesta at Chungthang and led to the Teesta Stage III dam management at Chungthang to open its sluice gates and allow the water and the debris through. Official sources inform that the dam release 600 cumecs of water which is around 6lakh litres per second at around 12:30 pm.

This had a snowball effect downstream and Teesta Stage V dam at Dikchu was also alerted to increased inundation and advised to release its waters.

The East and North district authorities, alerted to the development in the morning, also began taking precautions along the river downstream, using public address systems and other mediums to warn people about the river’s rising levels.

Palzor Lachenpa, former Lachen Pipon, while speaking to this correspondent, informed that the landslide at Lachen Phaka was still active and if it continues, might block the Lachen Chu and pose even bigger risks in the coming days.

There were also Met Department warnings about heavy overnight rainfall and with the monsoon having officially arrived in Sikkim, continued inundation has everyone concerned.

Meanwhile, the Chungthang-Lachen road was blocked at Munsithang last night.

As per SDM Chungthang, although no damage has been reported from Lachen village, the volume of water in Lachen Chu remained very high and was being closely watched and the residents of Lachen and Chungthang alerted about the situation.

In East district, the DC’s office has directed the BDOs of Rakdong Tintek and Khamdong which stretch along the Teesta to alert Ward Panchayats at villages near the river bank. The district authorities insist that while there was no need to panic yet, people should be advised not to venture to the riverside to collect fodder, firewood or fishing etc.

The DC East has also placed the District Hospital at Singtam on alert.

In addition, the SDRF team based in Gangtok and the NDRF team stationed in Pakyong have also been put on alert.

DDMA and SDMA authorities have been directed to stay vigilant and prepared to respond to any eventualities.

MEO, Nagar panchayats, local civil defence personnel and SHOs are carrying out warning activities.

The Deputy Director, Disaster Management, also reached Singtam to join the monitoring being carried out by the district administration.

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