Sikkim Flash Floods: A cloud burst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim resulted in a flash flood in the Teesta River in Lachen Valley on 4 October. Since then, at least 19 people have died while 103 are missing. The flood in Sikkim that started around 1.30 am was made worse by the release of water from Chungthang dam. Several towns, including Dikchu, Singtam, and Rangpo located in the Teesta basin, have also been flooded with the upsurge in the river. Over 3,000 tourists are reported to be stranded in different parts of Sikkim.
Here are 10 points you need to know:
1. In a statement, the government of neighbouring West Bengal said four of the 19 bodies were identified as ‘jawans’. So far, 2,011 people have been rescued, while the calamity has affected 22,034 people, the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) said in a bulletin.
2. Sikkim Chief Secretary Vijay Bhushan Pathak told news agency ANI that around 3000 people are stranded in Lachen and Lachung, 700-800 drivers are stuck. He also added that 3150 people who have went on motorcycles are also stuck there. He, however assured that helicopters of Army and Air Force will carry out the evacuation. Pathak said that the Army activated their telecommunication facility and got many tourists to speak to their worried family members.
3. The Indian Air Force and Army helicopters were ready to fly to Lachen, Lachung and Chungthang on Thursday, but could not do so due to inclement weather, he said.
4. A relief camp has been set up for people affected by the flash flood in the Teesta river basin in Sikkim.
5. The state education department issued a circular stating that all government, private schools, colleges and universities in the state will remain closed till 15 October due to the prevalence of inclement weather, as reported by PTI. Earlier, the Education Department had ordered the closure of schools, colleged till 8 October, however, a revised circular was later issued.
6. Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang visited Singtam, one of the worst affected areas, and took stock of the situation. “Our dedicated teams are working day and night to address the immediate concerns and challenges posed by this calamity. I urge the administration, local authorities, all organisations, and individuals to join hands in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. Together, we can make a significant difference in providing relief to those affected and rebuilding our communities,” he said. The chief minister wrote to the prime minister, and sought necessary support, especially for areas that needed immediate intervention, officials said.
7. The flood destroyed 11 bridges in the state, of which eight bridges were washed away in Mangan district alone. Two bridges were destroyed in Namchi and one in Gangtok. Water pipelines, sewage lines and 277 houses, both kuchcha and concrete, have been destroyed in the four affected districts.
8. In North Sikkim, some choppers flew to Lachen carrying essential supplies like rice, pulse, salt and milk for the local people.
9. The flash flood in the Teesta River, triggered by the cloudburst in Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim, caused an accumulation of a huge quantity of water, which turned towards Chungthang dam destroying the power infrastructure before moving downstream in spate, flooding towns and villages. About 10,000 people have been affected by the calamity in the Mangan district, while 6,895 people were affected in Pakyong, 2,579 in Namchi and 2,570 people in Gangtok. The SSDMA advised people to stay away from the Teesta as the water level was rising due to incessant rains in the upper reaches.
10. Sikkim Chief Secretary had chaired a series of meetings with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Wholesale Retailers, Pharmacy Association, IOC Representatives, LPG dealers and distributors, petrol pump owners, and Taxi Drivers Association to take stock of availability of essential commodities, including fuel. He directed the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) to open closed routes for small and heavy vehicles through Lava and Reshi check posts at the earliest. The transport secretary was also directed to issue an order for route diversion for small and heavy vehicles after ensuring clearance of the route. To keep the prices of essential commodities unchanged, the state government has decided not to levy charges on private vehicles carrying such items through Rangpo, Reshi and Melli Check Posts. The Chief Secretary appealed to all the associations not to hike the rates of essential commodities and also ensure that no hoarding of LPG, petrol and essential commodities takes place in Sikkim.
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