Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Central team in Sikkim

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- Officials arrive to assess damage caused by rains - PEMA LEYDA SHANGDERPA
Gangtok, Nov. 5: An inter-ministerial central team is in Sikkim to assess the damage caused by rains this year.

Landslides, triggered by rain, had killed and injured people and damaged houses and property across the state (see chart). NH31A, the main road linking Sikkim to the rest of the country, was also cut off in many places.

The six-member central team is led by R.P. Nath, the joint secretary (administration) in the ministry of home affairs, and has representatives from the Planning Commission and the finance ministry as well as departments of land resources, road transport and drinking water supply.

Yesterday, after the members arrived, they met officials of the Sikkim roads and bridges department who made a presentation on the current situation in the state. This morning, they dispersed in three smaller teams to tour North, West and South districts. They will return tomorrow to visit East Sikkim.

In September, Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling had requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to send a central team to the state. Chief secretary N.D. Chingapa followed it up by meeting officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and the cabinet secretariat later.

In October, the state government submitted a memorandum to the central relief commissioner in the ministry of home affairs. It included a damage assessment made by the state land revenue and disaster management department.

According to this assessment, the total damage in the state because of rain this year was Rs 94.41 crore. It does not include the damage to NH31A, which is being assessed independently by the National Highways Authority of India and the Border Roads Organisation, which maintains it.