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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Relief reached the earthquake and landslide affected areas...Quake toll down to 60 in Sikkim...Dismantle order on 11 structures - 6 to be pulled down entirely... Infodex published...Man bites cobra

Relief reached the earthquake and landslide affected areas
Relief transport at Nokedanra
KalimNews, 27 September, Kalimpong: A team of Kalimpong with volunteering Vikram Parajuli, video journalist of Dainandini and Kalimpong News - Manoj Rai and D.K.Waiba accompanied by social activist Shamsher Ali, Dinesh Khati with 8 GLP volunteers and others reached Lungshyol the remotest area of Gorubathan. The team had left Kalimpong at 12 noon of today with two truck loaded with food items, clothings and essential commodities in two Savari.
People of Kalimpong generously donated cash money and other items which was later unmanageable and had to be stopped due to lack of space for stocking them. With the help of the officials of Tourist Reception Centre, relief receiving counter was opened at the TRC. As there is still a truck full stock of clothes and other food items we have notified the people of Kalimpong that the relief receiving counter is closed till the team returns with some survey report and definite information from Lungshyol, said A.K.Rai of Kalimpong Press Club.
Meanwhile hope family trust has proceeded with a vision to help specific needy people with some concrete aid . Kiran Chhetri its founder said that it will collect donations and will come with follow up programme after receiving the survey report of the relief team.
The team reached Noke danra about 44 km from Kalimpong and distributed some items in the relief camp where the people of Sankhey and Mandir Gaon have taken shelter.
Another team went to Lungshyol and distributed clothings with other food materials to the victims of earthquake.
From there the team proceeded towards Mangzing for rest at about 9.30pm. Tomorrow the team will survey the affected areas and return to Kalimpong.

Infodex published
KalimNews, Kalimpong: Much awaited INFODEX of Kalimpong Press Club was released today during a programme held at TRC. Capt P.M.Pradhan Director of BBMC and Rockvale Academy the Chief Guest of the programme releasing the information directory said that it will surely help each and every individual to contact any person or organisation in need without any hassle with the help of Infodex.
A.K.Rai Secretary of Kalimpong Press Club said that the club had to struggle hard to make it published, due to various technical and other problems. It will now be sold from Blessings of Kashinath & Sons at a price of Rupees he further informed.
It is reminded that Infodex is a data bank of essential information containing contact number and address of people from porters to architects, jhakri/ojha to doctors, shops to associations, contractor to matchmakers, cobbler to advocates and other categories.
Quake toll down to 60 in Sikkim
BIJOY GURUNG, TT, Gangtok, Sept. 27: The official toll of the earthquake in Sikkim has dropped to 60 from 77 after names that had appeared more than once on the casualty list were removed and those reported missing traced.
A search team also recovered the decomposed body of Subrata Ranjan Nath, a retired brigadier from Calcutta who was the chief project adviser to Abir Infrastructure Private Limited, which had been implementing the Teesta Urja 1200MW hydel power project in Chungthang.
The casualty list for the three districts — South (1), West (4) and East (14) — remains the same. The death toll has come down only in worst-hit North Sikkim. The figure there now is 41. Earlier, it was 58.
Sikkim police spokesperson, senior superintendent of police Prawin Gurung, said this evening that the death toll had come down to 60 from 77 yesterday. “The reason is that there were many persons reported missing in North Sikkim who had been recorded as dead. There was also duplication of names of those killed. Now rescue teams have reached all the spots and verified the missing and the dead. So the actual number of dead people is now 60,” he said.
The police spokesperson said four to five bodies could not be recovered as they were still under debris.
Nath’s body was found in Shipgyer in North Sikkim’s Dzongu. On September 18, the retired army brigadier was on his way to Shipgyer, opposite Chungthang valley, from nearby Toong when landslides struck his vehicle. Two other persons who were with him in the vehicle had managed to escape. Nath was from Calcutta, police said.
Arrangements are being made to transport his body to Mangan, the North district headquarters.
Clear skies after four days of inclement weather allowed the army to stretch their rescue and relief operations to the maximum level today. A dozen army choppers were pressed into service, dropping ration and officials and evacuating stranded civilians from remote areas of North Sikkim.
Army spokesperson Colonel Ravi Patil said 2,550kg of ration was dropped in six villages of the Dzongu area and 9,408kg of food packets and medical items in Chunthang, Lachen, Chatten and Lachung.
The North Sikkim highway from Mangan to Chunthang, a distance of 100km, is still blocked by landslides and inaccessible.
“We also dropped a six-member team consisting of scientists, geologists and structural engineers in Lachung to survey the damage there. Two doctors were also dropped at Lachen,” said Col Patil.
An eight-member central team consisting of officials from the ministries of home affairs, health and roads arrived in Gangtok today to assess the damage.
An SPG team also landed in Gangtok on a recce before the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is expected here on September 29.

Sikkim Earthquake Update as at 1 P.M. Today
Ø The Number of deaths in the recent earthquake, as reported by the State Government of Sikkim is 77. The Break up of death toll is as follows – East District-13, North District -59, West District -04 and South District -01. 64 persons are hospitalized. The search and rescue operations teams of NDRF, Army and officials of the State Government are still on.
Ø The details of damage reported by the State Government (tentatively) in respect of houses, schools and hospitals are as follows :
No. of House
No. of Schools damaged
No. of hospitals damaged
07 FD
820 FD
446 PD
1582 MD
21 FD
41 PD
68 MD
NR (Relief camp opened-14)

6000 FD
9000 PD
201 FD
23 FD
1679 FD
5327 SD
8342 PD
64 FD
14994 FD
17788 PD
1582 MD
5327 SD
285 FD
41 PD
61 MD
30 FD
NR-Not reported, FD-Fully damaged, PD-Partially damaged, SD-Severely damaged, MD- Mildly damaged.
Ø 10 teams of NDRF consisting of 419 personnel along with necessary search and recue equipment are deployed in Sikkim. Teams stationed at Lachung and Chungthang area of Sikkim are carrying out rescue and relief operations. Team at Gangtok and Chungthang recovered one dead body each yesterday.
Ø A medical team comprising 19 doctors (Surgeon – 4, Orthopedician – 6, Anaesthesian – 5, Neuro-surgeon – 2, and medicine – 2) deployed by the Ministry of Health, Government of India continues to provide medical help.( 03 doctors continue work in Chungthang, 06 doctors at Distt. Hospital, Mangan and 10 doctors at STNM hospital, Gangtok).
Ø The doctors of the NDRF team organised a medical camp at Mangam.
Ø The State Government has opened total 85 relief camps. 2700 and 550 people have been provided shelter in two Army camps and ITBP (Pegong) respectively.
Ø A 5 member team of experts from NIMHANS, Bangalore to provide psycho-social care is en route to Sikkim. The team is likely to reachSiliguri today.
Ø Approximately 11,000 food packets have been air dropped so far in the northern part of North District. A total of 1500 food packets were airdropped on 25-9-2011.The airdropping of food packets today was held up due to inclement weather.
Ø A total of 22 sorties were carried out by helicopters on 25-9-2011.
The following roads have also been opened for traffic:
Ø Sevok-Gantok
Ø Singtam-Rangrang
Ø Rangpo-Rhenock
Ø Rhenock-Kupup-Nathula
Ø Indra Bypass
Ø Chungthang-Lachung-Yumthang-Yumesamdong (Road opened upto 5 Km from Chungthang)
Ø Namasa- Dombang
Ø Lachung-Katao-Patala (Road opened upto 18 Km from Lachung)
Road from Toong to Police check post i.e 12 Km ahead of Chugthang has been cleared on 26/09/11.Some roads are still blocked but open to someextent.Border Roads Organization (BRO) and Army Engineers are working for restoration of different roads.
Ø Due to heavy continuous rains, landslides occurred in Dzongu. No casualty has been reported. Relief work is being carried out by NDRF/State Police and NGOs
Ø Due to heavy rains, airlift and other relief activities is not being carried out in Chugthang, Lachen and Lachung
Ø Landlines and Microwave links are operational. The present status of mobile tower/BTS which are functional viz-a-viz the total no. is given as follows :
Vodafone - All fault restored
Reliance - 52 (54)
Idea - All fault restored
Aircel - 54(55)
Airtel - 67 (69)
BSNL - 106(122)
Ø A total of Rs. 14.21 crore has been disbursed as relief by the State Government till date.
Dismantle order on 11 structures - 6 to be pulled down entirely
BIJOY GURUNG, Gangtok, Sept. 27: The East district administration has issued dismantling orders to 11 multi-storeyed buildings in Gangtok and Singtam as the damaged structures have become a threat to adjoining houses.
Six of these buildings, with five or more floors, will have to be demolished fully. In the other buildings, only the vulnerable floors will be dismantled.
Although Gangtok has a height restriction of five storeys because it is located in a vulnerable seismic zone, civic norms are often flouted.
Notices under Section 144 of the CrPc — under which evacuation orders can be given — have been issued to owners of the 11 buildings in the past couple of days by the district administration, an official said. Three of these buildings are in Singtam, 35km from Gangtok, and the others in the state capital itself.
Three more buildings have been recommended to the state government for partial demolition by an assessment team.
The team has also recommended that the already collapsed building at Baluwakhani in Gangtok, belonging to Bhaichung Bhutia’s mentor and state sports secretary Karma P. Bhutia, needs to be dismantled and the debris cleared. The five-storeyed house collapsed when an adjoining six-storey structure tilted and fell on it on Friday night.
A team consisting of officials from the urban development and mines and geology departments and researchers from IIT-Roorkee conducted a survey of 406 buildings in and around Gangtok and Singtam yesterday.
“Six buildings are to be totally demolished while the floors of the remaining five need to be dismantled,” said Sikkim government spokesperson K.S. Topgay. The assessment is that around 70 buildings need to be evacuated but some of these can be strengthened with retro-fittings (or iron bars), he said.
“Demolition orders were issued as the team felt that these buildings were posing danger to other buildings and residents. The owners have to demolish the buildings within three days on the receipt of the order on their own expenses. If not, the government will be demolishing the buildings and costs will recovered from the owners,” said an official.
The government had announced that Rs 50,000 would be given for major damage. For minor damage and cracks, the compensation would range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 depending on the nature of the house.
Sources said a demolition squad from New Delhi would be reaching Gangtok today. The owners of the seven-storeyed Hotel Superview Himalchuli, one of the buildings to be totally demolished, have appealed to the state government to give them time to bring in experts so that options can be explored to save the building.
“Instead of going straight for demolition, we request the state government to give us some time to explore options to find out if the hotel can be saved. The government has to help the people. We have contacted experts in Calcutta who are specialists in restoring damaged structures. We want to use the available technology of retrofitting or column shifting. Such action has saved some buildings in Gangtok, which had been ordered demolition during the 2006 earthquake,” said Satish Bardewa, son of S.K. Bardewa who owns the hotel.
The hotel has some 30 rooms. When it suffered cracks during the September 18 quake, all its occupants were evacuated. The hotel is closed now.
Satish said the demolition cost alone would run up to more than Rs 20 lakh considering that the building has to be pulled down first by hired labourers and then the debris transported for dumping outside Gangtok. “Constructing another building from scratch is another big issue,” said Satish.
The owners of a damaged five-storeyed building at Tadong near Sikkim Government College, however, have already hired labourers to demolish it. The building, constructed during the early 80s, had been damaged by the quake is also among the six that has to be totally pulled down.
“Considering the damage to the building, we are already prepared to demolish it. Once the order was given to us a couple of days ago, we brought workers to demolish it. The shopkeepers and tenants of this building have moved out along with the owner and family members,” said Robin Gurung who is supervising the demolition.
The top two floors are now being demolished.
“We are not asking for any any help from the government at this time. We are more concerned about the danger the building possesses to other adjoining structures. First we want to remove this threat and later on, if the government gives us aid, then it’s ok,” said Gurung.
The building had tilted dangerously close to a three-storeyed building of businessman Raj Kumar Prasad. “We were scared. Now we can breathe in relief as some demolition has taken place reducing the weight on our building,” he said.
According to East district collector D Anandan, more than 900 houses in the district have collapsed and more than 5,000 houses suffered major damage. More than 10,000 houses have suffered minor damages in East district, he said.
The district authorities are touring the affected areas and preparing a list of damaged houses to provide compensation as announced by the state government.
Man bites cobra

Ratan at the Falakata hospital on Tuesday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
ANIRBAN CHOUDHURY, TT, Alipurduar, Sept. 27: The first lesson in journalism schools — man bites dog is news — got some fang today when a man bit a cobra to pieces.
A garden worker, not known for his skills as a snake charmer, played with a king cobra for nearly 30 minutes before the snake dug its fangs into his hands and in turn was torn to bits by human teeth.
Around 10.30am today 49-year-old Ratan Singh, a resident of Cooch Behar Tea Estate, spotted the snake lying coiled up on his path when he was going to collect firewood from the garden.
“Suddenly we saw Ratan lifting a snake that seemed about seven-feet-long and start playing with it. I and a few others gathered around him and we asked him to drop the snake as it was hissing and spreading its hood. But Ratan did not listen to us and he kept playing with the snake,” said Ramdas Munda, another worker.
He added that Ratan was whistling to the snake and he also strung it around his neck and posed for photographs that were being taken on cellphones by those who had gathered there then.
“Suddenly we saw the snake coil up and dig its fangs on Ratan’s hands right above the wrist and to our horror Ratan started biting the snake. He tore it into two pieces with his teeth,” said Sandeep Munda, a witness.
Sandeep added that although Ratan kept saying that the snakebite would have no effect on him, soon he slumped to the ground and was taken to the Falakata hospital 3km from the garden.
“After seeing the photographs we confirmed that it was a king cobra and we have administered anti-venom on the victim. But he is in a critical condition,” said Sukhomoy Sarkar, the on-duty doctor at the hospital.
The doctor said king cobra’s venom was a neurotoxin and it affected the nervous system and all the vital organs.
The incident has rattled the garden workers. “We never knew that Ratan was such a daredevil. I do not know what went wrong with him today. It has shocked everyone,” Sandeep said.
The tea garden, 36km from here, was closed today because of Mahalaya.
Rs 6 crore damage to tea zone

A damaged boundary wall of the factory at Meenglass Tea Estate in the Dooars. Telegraph picture
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 27: The tea sector in the Dooars and the Terai has suffered a loss of Rs 6 crore after the September 18 quake hit its infrastructure which ranged from staff accommodation to factory buildings.
The highest individual loss of nearly Rs 2 crore was suffered by a garden owned by Goodricke in the Dooars.
Tea planters, who are yet to pay the revised salary to workers, are now grappling with the expense needed to repair the damaged infrastructure, which also includes brew manufacturing factories whose boundary walls have given away. Most garden managements fear that the security of the factories with their expensive machines were at stake.
“It is indeed a new challenge for us because in the Dooars alone, at least 30-35 gardens, who are our members, have suffered damage during the earthquake. A rough estimate indicates that the loss is around Rs 5.50 crore which in all probability, is going to climb as the assessment of many gardens are yet to be finished. The highest loss borne by an individual garden is Denguajhar owned by Goodricke. It has suffered a loss of around Rs 2 crore,” said Prabir Bhattacharjee, the secretary of the Dooars Branch of the Indian Tea Association.
Denguajhar is located outside Jalpaiguri town. Goodricke owns 12 gardens in the Dooars.
Describing the condition of Denguajhar, a DBITA source said: “In the earthquake, 632 workers’ quarters were damaged. Five bungalows, 19 staff quarters and a crèche have suffered damage. Boundary walls of the warehouse, factory and hospital have collapsed and so have eight culverts, built over rivulets criss-crossing the garden.”
The other gardens which have suffered major losses include Dalsinghpara (Rs 40 lakh), Central Dooars (Rs 35 lakh), Gandrapara (Rs 30 lakh), Washabari (Rs 25 lakh), Jiti (Rs 20 lakh) and Sankosh, Saylee, Barodighi, Beech, Banarhat and Leesh River — each Rs 10 lakh and above.
Trade union leaders said the damage indicated the plight of the workers. “Over the past few years, we had been insisting that the dwelling units of workers, most of which are in pitiable condition, be repaired,” said Samir Roy, the convener of the Defence Committee for Plantation Workers’ Rights, an apex body of tea trade unions. “The planters, however, did not heed our pleas and now, after the earthquake, it is evident that our apprehensions were correct: the workers were living in unsafe quarters.”

Ranjit Datta, the north Bengal branch secretary of the Tea Association of India with its 35 member gardens, said 15 estates of the Terai have suffered damage of nearly Rs 35 lakh.
“We are fortunate that there had been no major casualty during the quake. However, the losses suffered by the gardens have to be borne by the managements concerned,” he said.

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