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Rediff.com  » News » Army yet to reach quake-ravaged areas of Sikkim

Army yet to reach quake-ravaged areas of Sikkim

September 24, 2011 12:41 IST

With a portion of a mountain caving in and several areas completely ravaged, the Army has said it will take some time to open the road from Tung up to Lanchen and Lachung in North Sikkim, which bore the brunt of last Sunday's devastating temblor.

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake had cut off many parts of Northern Sikkim like Chuntham, Lachen, Lachung, upper Dzungu and the army in five days have been able to open nearly 40 km of the road though another 35 km need to be explored, official sources said on Saturday.

"Mangan (which is nearly 60 km from Gangtok) can be considered as the gateway to the quake-hit remote areas but the real problem starts from Tung up to Lanchen and Lachung -- the two extreme points which are bifurcated from Chungtham", said an army officer of the engineering regiment, which is entrusted with the task of clearing the rubble and make a cab way.

"There is one way which leads from Gangtok to Mangan via Bittu where there were nearly 14 big landslides and in three days we have cleared the road and opened it for thoroughfare but the condition of the road from Tung to the extreme points is horrible and it will take long time before we can make the road open for the people," said the officer.

When asked why the operation was taking so long, the officer said, "Actually a portion of the mountain has caved in and several parts of the roads have been completely ravaged. Moreover, we are not able to carry out high intensity blasts because other portions of the mountain are in a brittle condition and might come down."

"So we have to be very careful so that it does not cause more damage to the roads. Moreover, we will have to build new roads and that will take come time," the officer said.

If the Army is working to facilitate the transportation connectivity, the National Disaster Response Team and the civil administration are trying to provide relief material to the quake victims in the remotest areas of North Sikkim.

"We have divided our teams in small groups and they are trekking to the villages which are still cut off. Our boys have been able to reach villages like Bay, Pegong, Lingu, Sakyong, Pentong and Limbu," NDRF Commandant Nisith Upadhay told PTI.

"Not only that we have provided them ration and are trying to bring them back to the comparatively safer zone where they can at least get medical treatment and food," Upadhaya said.

But the number of relief camps in the area and the quantity of relief material is too meagre in comparison to the requirement and that is reflected in the voice of the quake victims.

"There is hardly any relief material in the area and people are suffering from shortage of food and clean water. The people are trapped and they neither can get out of the area nor they will be able to survive in this way," the pipon (Sarpanch) of Lachung Chong Namgiyal alleged.

Saibal Gupta in Gangtok