On March 26, 2023, a major landslide hit Sokpay village in the East Sikkim district, damaging two houses and affecting at least 20 families along the Dikchu-Rakdong Road.
According to residents, the Teesta stage V NHPC dam may have caused the landslide as the village is situated above the site. In light of the frequent landslides in the region, villagers are calling on authorities to relocate them to a nearby colony as they are forced to evacuate every monsoon.
Despite promises of relocation, the government has yet to follow through, leaving the villagers feeling neglected and vulnerable.
Villagers feeling neglected
Manju Sharma, a resident of Sokpay village, expressed the need for the government to take action and provide a safer living environment for the affected families.
The recent landslide that occurred in Selfie Dara, a popular ‘selfie’ spot in Sikkim, caused extensive damage to properties and livelihoods of the locals, according to a report by Down to Earth.
Sunita Subba, a shop owner who invested all her savings in her shop, lost her shop and house in the disaster. However, she is worried that only the landowners and not the tenants will be compensated by the authorities.
Another resident, Pushpalal Neopaney, lost a cow in the disaster, and many locals are facing significant hardships. Neopaney also revealed that a smaller slide occurred at 11 pm the previous night, which they were not aware of. Whenever a landslide occurs, they typically evacuate to lower ground, but the slide at 2 am was only noticed when a large boulder fell close to their home.
The 3 am landslide was so severe that their home began to vibrate, and they had to take shelter in a nearby cave. However, the cave itself also started shaking, and they feared for their lives, according to Manju Sharma.
Gangtok Magistrate surveyed site area
On Sunday afternoon, Gangtok District Magistrate Tushar Nikhare and other officials surveyed the site area and provided relief to the affected families.
Two house owners who lost their homes received Rs. 1,30,000, while a cow owner was given Rs. 40,500, and a tenant whose shop was damaged received Rs. 25,000, according to an official.
Assessment of loss due to landslide in Sikkim
The local administration is currently assessing the loss caused by the recent landslide in Sokpay village of East Sikkim district. Gangtok Zilla Adhyaksha, Balaram Adhikari, stated that the Mines and Geology Department would survey the cause of the landslide.
Although the local people blame the NHPC dam at the base of the hill, the actual reason for the landslide is yet to be ascertained.
The landslide has also cut off the National Highway that connects the area to North Sikkim district, but an alternative road from nearby Samdong village is now commutable.
Efforts to restore road connectivity
Public Health Engineering officials have surveyed the damage and have initiated actions to open road connectivity. However, clearing the landslide could take 2-3 days, as the size of boulders is very large.
Meanwhile, efforts are also being made to provide relief to the affected people. The local administration is closely monitoring the situation and taking necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the affected people.
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