Millennium Post

Rain hits road connectivity, tourists stranded

Darjeeling: About 300 odd tourists stranded in Lachen and in other parts of North Sikkim owing to the roads being cut off, are reportedly safe. Incessant heavy rainfall has triggered numerous landslides in North Sikkim affecting communications.

An administrative source stated that as it would take three to four days to open up the roads, it has been decided to evacuate the stranded tourists by transshipment (whereby they will have to cross the affected areas on foot). Six Sikkim National Transport buses have reached Chungthang for the transshipment of the tourists. The Lachen road is blocked in three to four places owing to landslides. The stranded tourists have to walk from Lachen to the Chatten. From Chungthang the tourists will be ferried to Gangtok in the SNT buses. All tour operators have been asked to send vehicles to pick tourists from Chungthang on Thursday. Raj Kumar Yadav, the District Collector, North district on Wednesday visited the affected areas to take stock of the situation and to oversee the evacuation of tourists. Work is on to restore public connectivity at Mantam on a war footing.

If weather conditions improve the tourists will be evacuated from Thursday. Army, Indo Tibet Border Police, GREF, Police and the District Administration are coordinating the evacuation including the transshipment.

Members of the Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS) have also visited the affected area. Food and lodging of the stranded tourists are being provided free of cost at Lachen.

Power supply and mobile connectivity has been badly affected thereby cutting off these regions completely. Anxious family members have not been able to contact the stranded tourists in these parts owing to break down in cellular network and power.

Permits to tourists to visit Lachen and Dzongu in North Sikkim will only be issued when conditions improve and normalcy returns. However tourists will be issued permits for Lachung only from Thursday.

As per the Met office the rainfall recorded during the last 24 hours (till 8:30am Wednesday) was 140mm at Sankalan; 70mm at Mangan and 50mm at Chungthang. The weather forecast is rain and thundershowers in North Sikkim on Thursday.

On June 17 a cloudburst was reported in upstream Chungthang in North Sikkim. Logs, debris and muddy water clogged the Teesta Stage 5 dam at Dikchu after which residents of Singtam and Rangpo towns in the East District of Sikkim living on the river banks were shifted to safer grounds. An alert had been sounded. The situation has improved considerably with the water level having receded.

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