A landslide hit Sikkim's Sokpay village in Gangtok in the wee hours of Sunday, causing massive damage to the National Highway along the Dikchu-Rakdong Road.
As per information, the four houses were completely damaged and 18 families were affected due to the landslide. The local administration has evacuated around 15-20 families living around the two damaged houses.
As many as four livestock were lost in the landslide. However, no casualties were reported.
Gangtok District Magistrate Tushar Nikhare and other concerned officials from Gangtok District surveyed the site area on Sunday afternoon.
Two house owners, whose houses were completely damaged were provided with a relief of Rs 1,30,000; a cow owner was given Rs 40,500 and a tenant, whose shop was damaged was provided Rs 25,000, informed the official.
According to a local resident of Sokpay village, Mohan Neopaney, as many as 15-20 houses have been affected. "Most importantly everyone here has lost electricity and water connections. We are hopeful of the government provide us with relief. This year the landslides were very dangerous", said a local.
A nearby Animal Husbandry office was also damaged by the slide, which according to a Neopaney was inaugurated in 2022.
"The landslide occured around 2:30 am to 3 am. A nearby Lepcha resident lost 3-4 pigs with some furniture at his home. He had to be evacuated from what remained of his home. They are poor and may not be able to afford to rent a property. Another resident Pushpalal Neopaney lost a cow. They are facing a lot of hardships," Neopaney added.
"Last night, the slide occured also at 11 pm which we didn't come to know. Every time there is a slide we go downhill, but the slide at 2 am we came to know when a big boulder fell close to our home. It didn't fall on the roadside. 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 we are going to die, " said Manju Sharma.
According to local residents, many surveys have been conducted by the officials in the past and they suggested relocating to a safer area.
"In the past, many surveys have been conducted of the area. There were talks of shifting the residents from the area, but nothing as such ever happened. This happened in 2016," Manju Sharma.
Shop owner Sunita Subba near Selfie Dara, a tourist spot in the village, lost her entire shop to the landslide.
Narrating the local people's plight, Sunita Subba said, "Every monsoon we have to leave our house and stay in neighbours' homes. The authorities tell us that we will be shifted but even after shifting where would we go? We do not have land anywhere else and we cannot stay in anyone else's place. We feel that the government can give us land, set up a colony and shift us there. We do not wish to be evacuated. We work here, our children study here."
"We did evacuate for 4-5 months at someone's residence. But since it was our livelihood we came back and stayed again," she added.
Meanwhile, the local administration is assessing the loss caused due to the landslide.
Gangtok Zilla Adhyaksha, Balaram Adhikari said, "How the landslide occured will be surveyed by the Mines and Geology Department. It was a dry slide but there is an NHPC dam at the base of the hill and at the top of the hill there is a powerline tower. According to the local people, the dam is the reason for landslides. But we cannot ascertain"
The highway connects to North Sikkim, and now with the slide an alternative road from nearby Samdong village is commutable. Public Health Engineering officials have surveyed the damage and have initiated actions to open the road connectivity. The clearance could take 2-3 days, the size of boulders are very big, but for people to walk, a pathway will be carved from the slide", he added. (ANI)