Monday, November 13, 2017

Focus on CHIBO- PASHYOR landslide, Kalimpong district, Bengal (2017)

If I have a 'favorite' landslide, it's the CHIBO-PASHYOR landslide and the reason for it being my landslide of choice is :-

  • It is located in the close vicinity of Kalimpong town and one can reach it within 15min on a vehicle.
    Not many researchers of landslides and certainly no high ranking govt official or VIP will travel 4 hrs on a bumpy, slushy road or much less, trek for 3 hrs to investigate a landslide. Most would much rather have a peek at the landslide from inside their SUV and go back to the comfort of a plush hotel to discuss the landslide on a laptop!
  • The CHIBO-PASHYOR landslide is humungous - sufficiently big to impress researchers and VIPs alike yet not too dangerous during the dry season and winters, when most landslide research/survey is carried out.
    Yes! While flood surveys are conducted when a river is in full spate and large areas are submerged, most landslide surveys are generally done in the post monsoon (dry) period, when much of damage has been repaired or devastation/impact of landslides cannot be gauged fully. Too bad.
    SO while there are huge and dangerous landslides else where in this region, the CHIBO-PASHYOR slide remains my favorite and with the numerous scientific and other teams visiting it, I am glad that there is a tiny glimmer of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
    And all said and done, I am extremely glad that landslides in this region are getting due attention at last and that STH is able to play a minuscule role in all this.

Read more on:-
Colorado May2017, visit here
Prof Debasis Roy, Sep 2016 visit here
IIIT intervention in landslide Early Warning using rainfall threshold (FLaIR model)
Landslip project (see previous blog also)

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A day well spent (03Nov2017) : Field visit with Project 'LANDSLIP', at the CHIBO-PASHYOR landslide

Project 'LANDSLIP' was in Darjeeling in Jan2017 (see here).
I am glad that STH could meet them and Practical Action once again, this time in Kalimpong and spend the entire day with them. We started the day with a presentation on the landslide scenario on Kalimpong and more specifically the CHIBO- PASHYOR landslide and then carried out a field visit in this landslide area with local guides.
As stated by Dr George Adamson of the team, the project aims at developing landslide EW (early warning) methodology based on accurate prediction of heavy rainfall whereby mountain communities living in landslide prone areas could be alerted in time to take requisite measures to save lives.
The team had a strong presence of social scientists which is perhaps the right way to go, because strengthening community resilience and awareness is of utmost importance in any landslide disaster scenario.
LANDSLIP will be working in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya and the Nilgiris.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya

Monday, October 16, 2017

Rainfall data of Darjeeling Sikkim Himalaya - (Sep2017)

Delay in posting this report is regretted.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rainfall data of Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya (August 2017)

From 'The Hindu' (15Sep2017) : Recurving cyclones dried August rains


A strange pattern of tropical cyclones (TC) in the Western Pacific appear to be the reason for the drying up of monsoon rains in August across India.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted normal monsoon rains in August, typically the second most bountiful monsoon month after July.
During the monsoon months, cyclones in the Western Pacific move westwards towards India and aid rain-bearing systems over the sub-continent. But during some years they ‘recurve’, or start to swing north-east, and do not give as much of a push to the rains as they do in the good monsoon years
Read further here

The delay in putting up this report as well as the incomplete data in the Sikkim report is regretted but was totally beyond our control, due the ban on internet in this region and the ongoing political agitation.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya


Monday, August 14, 2017

Rainfall data of July2017 for the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya

July is the month that monsoon rainfall peaks in this region and it did just that. We had normal rainfall in Darjeeling and Kalimpong with Kurseong (as usual, taking the cake).

As stated earlier, the entire Darjeeling/Kalimpong districts have been under lock down for the past 60 days with an indefinite strike in progress here because of the ongoing political turmoil
Life has been paralyzed with vehicular traffic off road, tea gardens, schools and colleges closed, hydro-electric stations shut down and internet banned.
Under these altered circumstances, STH, like everyone else has confined to barracks and as such the absence of posts or data on this blog. 
Do bear with us.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Rainfall data of Jun2017 for the Darjeeling -Sikkim Himalaya

Despite at least two low pressure areas which formed in the Bay of Bengal the Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya remained largely deficient in rainfall. Remember, June is a month when rainfall in this region more or less peaks (see graph below).

Of course, all the rain went east to the north eastern states and Bangladesh where there was and continues to be devastation due to excessive rain.
No major landslides occurred during this period.
Starting 08Jun2017, the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts were swept by another form of disaster - political turmoil, with people of the region aspiring for a separate state of GORKHALAND. As on date, we are on the 20th day of a total strike with internet virtually non-existent and mobile services severely affected.
This shutdown of communications (including road) during of a time of year when we are most disaster prone, does not forebode well for us.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Friday, June 16, 2017

STH activities: With team from IIIT (Hyd) for installing Real Time Monitoring Sensors for Landslide Prediction (11-14Jun2017)

The CHIBO- PASHYOR landslides on the western face of Kalimpong have been featured many times on this blog, primarily because they are a major source of instability in the vicinity of Kalimpong town.
Six sensors, an AWS and a data logger (see this link) which automatically monitor slope failure and also  remotely measure and transmit rainfall and soil moisture data have been installed at the most unstable part of the landslide area.
This was done by three young researchers from IIIT (Hyd) who were in Kalimpong from the 11-14Jun2017. STH which has been associated with IIIT in their previous visit worked closely with the 3 researchers for selecting the sites for sensor placement and also liaising with the local people for security of the equipment.
On successful completion of  the 2yr project, IIIT hopes to develop landslide prediction equipment which could give early warning on landslides, based on rainfall thresholds and slope movement.
Will be posting co-ordinates of the sensor, datalogger locations shortly.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Nominations open for the IMI's Dr RS Tolia Award 2017 for 'Outstanding work in the Mountains'


Call for Nominations
The Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI) community suffered a great loss in 2016 with the passing away of its esteemed and visionary leader, elder, and guiding light- Dr RS Tolia. Dr RS Tolia conceptualized the idea of IMI, got the like-minded people on board and led it from the front as its founding President. His passion and commitment towards improving the lives of mountain communities is what drove him. There are few people who have had such a profound impact on the future direction of mountain development as Dr Tolia. His vision and commitment for the formation of a pan-Indian mountain movement not only unified diverse mountain states of India but also inspired others. His deep understanding of the links among people, cultures, livelihoods and mountain environment undoubtedly influenced a generation of researchers, organizations and policymakers.
While his passionate determination will continue to inspire people, IMI community aims to encourage passionate individuals to carry forward the cause of integrated mountain development to commemorate the memory of Dr. Tolia and in gratitude to its founding President. Therefore, in the 10th General council (GC) Meeting held on 10th February, 2017 at Delhi, the GC of IMI resolved to institute ‘Dr RS Tolia Award’ to recognize individual efforts that have made impact in integrating and addressing the issues of mountain communities.
Purpose & Rationale
The purpose of the award is to recognize and reward the exemplary work of individuals whose work has created an impact / has the potential to impact sustainable prosperity and well-being of the people of the Mountain states in India. In exceptional cases organizations can will also be considered. However, the preference will be to reward individuals.
Eligibility Criteria & Profile of the Suitable Candidate
1. Individuals whose work has created an impact or has the potential to impact the lives and sustainability of Mountain areas positively are eligible to apply for the Award
2. In rare cases, we may recognize institutions where such institutions are systematically responsible for driving action that meets the purpose of this award.
3. The award will not be restricted to any particular sectors or fields of action.
4. Innovation at grass root levels with widespread application/ impact as well as policy advocacy aimed at addressing issues and challenges of mountain states in India, are eligible for consideration for award
5. Academic research that informs policy formulation and action research with similar impact is also eligible.
6. The award is aimed at celebrating the contribution of mountain people working to improve the lives of mountain people and sustainable prosperity of IMI member states, but eligibility for nomination for the award is not restricted to people from mountains only. If some individuals’ / organizations’ work has made a huge positive difference to people of the member states of IMI, they will be recognized irrespective of where they come from
Value of the Award
The value of the Award is Rs. 1 lakh cash, citation and a medallion. In addition, IMI will cover all related expenses such as travel expenses of final nominees and the award winner as appropriate.
Nominations for the award are now open and will be accepted till 30 June 2017 (midnight). Interested individuals/organisations must download the nomination form and send in their application along with a recent CV by this date to Late applications will not be considered.

Read more here

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya,

Monday, June 5, 2017

Rainfall data of Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya (MAY2017)

Brief summary :-
  • Rainfall in May2017 for the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalayas was deficient (except for Jaldhaka, in the foot hills of the Dooars). Most of the rainfall occurred in the first half of the month while the latter half was largely dry.
  • We had our first fatality of the year with a tree smashing down and instantly killing the driver of a truck on NH10 near Melli on 09May2017
  • We also had Cyclone 'Mora' brewing up in the Bay of Bengal but it did not affect us in any way
Credits : Maps and lower chart from IMD

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya,

Sunday, May 21, 2017

STH Activities with team of researchers from Colorado University (18May2017)

Prof Andrew Rumbach of Colorado Univ is an old Kalimpong hand (see 1 & 2) and is here for approx 3 weeks to research impact of urbanization and inherent risk to rural communities. He is accompanied by Mr Brian Sullivan and Ms. Izabela Petrykowska who are research assistants from the College of Architecture and Planning (CU), Denver
STH would be working with them in the Darjeeling/Kalimpong areas.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Rainfall data of Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya - Apr2017

Synopsis of April weather.
We had the first cyclone of the year (Maarutha) brewing up in the Bay on 16Apr2017 but as predicted it affected Myanmar and a few north eastern states.
We had quite of lot of hailstorm activity in the region but no major damage was reported. We also published a mid-month bulletin on precipitation here.
A major landslide in Shimla caused quite a lot of sensation since a detailed video was uploaded on Youtube.

All maps are from IMD.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Death in the Mountains (09May2017)

A thunderstorm in the morning of 09May2017 struck a huge region as can be seen in the satellite image below. In the Darjeeling-Sikkim region, the rainfall was not intense during the storm but associated winds at around 0900hrs IST, knocked down several trees on National Highway10 (NH10) which links Siliguri with Gangtok .
One of the trees crashed directly onto the driver's cabin of a truck plying on the highway at Melli, killing him instantly.
This is first death due to hydro-meteorological causes in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya in 2017.
Rainfall at Kalimpong on 09May2017: 24mm

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling -Sikkim Himalayas

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Training program on "Earthquake and Landslide Management' at Darjeeling (20-22Apr2017)

The program is being organized by the Govt of W Bengal and SaveTheHills is facilitating the attendance of 6 participants from Kalimpong to attend the 3 day course. In addition, 4 civil engineering students from SMIT, Majitar (Sikkim) will be attending the event on 21Apr2017

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong dist.
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Sunday, April 16, 2017

STH Stormwatch : Cyclone 'Maarutha' is born (16Apr2017) and its early demise (Update of 17Apr2017)

The storm in the Bay of Bengal intensified into a full blown cyclone and was christened 'MAARUTHA' today. This is the first named storm of the 2017 Northern Hemisphere Tropical Cyclone season.

Update of 17Apr2017 (Extracts from JTWC bulletin)
JTWC has also issued its final warning on the cyclone considering it no longer significant.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Friday, April 14, 2017

STH Stormwatch : The FIRST storm of 2017 (in the Bay of Bengal)

Location of Low pressure area is approximate

Update from JTWC  (1330h / 14Apr2017)
JTWC has upgraded the warning from LOW to MEDIUM and extract is reproduced below :-

Update of 15Apr2017 (JTWC)

Update of 15Apr2017 (IMD)IMD has categorized the storm as a DEPRESSION now (morning inference) and forecasts the storm to intensify further into a deep depression and move towards the north Myanmar coast in the next 72hrs

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya