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Floods Wash Away Sikkim Leaving Behind the Lifeline in Bad Shape

On Wednesday, 4 October, Sikkim witnessed one of the biggest catastrophes of this year. In North Sikkim, a cloud burst over Lake Lonhan resulting in flooding of the Teesta River in Lachen Valley, leading to massive damages.  

The latest report indicates that 40 people were killed, and 22 were injured with hundreds missing, including army Jawans following the flash flood. Additionally, a crucial 1200 MW hydroelectric power station was destroyed.

For the last three days, the government of Prem Singh Tamang has made an effort to restore communication and infrastructure and rescue people in the region. Meteorologists state that this flood was brought in by a glacial lake over 17,000 feet above sea level in the Himalayas. 

Remarking that Sikkim is one of the popular places for tourists, on 6th October, the Parliamentary Committee declared a red flag. It has noted the “severe shortage of meteorological and monitoring stations in Himalayan regions.” 

On March 29, the Parliament was told that Sikkim has “694 glacial lakes and eight flood forecasting stations; three for water levels and five for inflows.” It has been expressed that Glacial lakes are the main culprit behind this devastating flood. 

The Report on Glacier Management in the Country, “Monitoring of Glaciers/Lakes, Including Glacial Lake Outbursts Leading to Flashfloods, in the Himalayan Region,” cautioned against the looming crisis. The report mentioned that the Himalayan region in India is warming at a faster rate (by 0.5 degrees C) than in previous years. 

Furthermore, citing the consequence of climate change, it warned that it could lead to glaciers melting quicker than normal. The report tallies with research papers from 2013 and 2021. Both of which noted that in the last 11 years, 400 m of water has increased in the lake. Additionally, it was also found that the lake’s surface was expanded by 500m and the average depth increased by 50m. 

The latest images broadcasted by the Space Agency of India, ISRO indicated that around 100 hectares of water had burst during this flash flood. 

According to an eyewitness, “the Teesta River was full of camps, utensils, and animal carcasses.” Presently, four districts– Kochbihar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Siliguri– in West Bengal are under red alert. The tourism department of W.B. said that a group of tourists who went from Kolkata on a motorcycle-cum-trekking trip were stuck near Singtam without food. 

The flood severely damaged several houses and hotels. Furthermore, all connecting roads including NH-10 were influenced and severely damaged. The livelihood of Sikkim faces difficulties due to insufficient food, vegetables, and rescue equipment.

In the meantime, the Sikkim government has urged to postpone all tourism programs. It has proclaimed that it takes a considerable amount of time to recover all the necessary assets and normalise the situation. The West Bengal and central government bodies expressed that they are coming forward to help Sikkim by providing manpower, a disaster relief team,  food, and medicine.


Edited by: Mariyam Qureshi


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Tags: #India #WestBengal #Disaster #Flood #ISRO #Sikkim


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