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(Landslide Hazard Workshop on 20 Nov 2009. Venue: Town Hall, Kalimpong)
1. As you would know SaveTheHills (STH) is a Kalimpong – based NGO which has been working on the landslide issue for more than two years. In this regard, though we have achieved a lot in raising awareness about this rather unknown disaster form to the national level as well as amongst the local populace, much more remains to be done.
2. The Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas comprise of young mountains which lie approximately 800km north of the Bay of Bengal and as such receive some of the heaviest rainfall in the country during a 5 month monsoon period. This along with extensive anthropogenic interference has resulted in this area being one of the most landslide prone places in the country – yet despite this fact, nothing substantial has been done with regard to a sustained, holistic way of managing the landslide problem. Consequently, in recent times the frequency and intensity of landslides have shown a sharp surge; in 2009 alone we had over 30 deaths in Darjeeling district along huge with economic losses.
3. STH has already taken up the dire need to draw up a holistic strategy to combat landslide hazards in the long term in this area at the highest levels – the Hon MP, Shri Jaswant Singh has been apprised and matter was also raised at the thematic session on “Mass Movements” during the 2nd India Disaster Management Congress at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi on 05 Nov 2009.
4. In our endeavor to keep the landslide issue at the centre stage and also to highlight the need for a holistic landslide management plan, STH is organizing a one day Landslide Hazard Workshop in Kalimpong on 20 Nov 2009. Our resource persons are scientists and scholars of distinction with participation from Sikkim also. We expect around 200 people as invitees from the district and Sikkim, which will include people from Govt service (including army and BRO), distinguished people from the district and academics and students. Mr. ML Meena, Principal Secretary, Disaster Management, Govt of W Bengal has kindly consented to be our Chief Guest for the occasion.
5. The Invitation/ Program along with the biodata of the resource persons are enclosed.
6. This is for your kind information.