Illegal constructions making Darjeeling vulnerable to landslides

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Darjeeling, July 9 (ANI): The massive construction of buildings, a majority of them illegal, has led to degradation of soil texture in the Darjeeling Hills area of West Bengal and making the place vulnerable to landslides.

A series of landslides hit Darjeeling and its surrounding areas in May, triggered by overnight torrents.

Local builders, however, have ignored the threat of landslides or public concern.

Geologists say that the construction of unauthorised buildings coupled with improper drainage systems has led to recent landslides.

"For the Since last 100 years, Darjeeling is witnessing an rapid increase in population. This migration of population has led to an increase in unauthorised constructions. This coupled with the lack of a proper drainage system in the Darjeeling Hills culminated in the recent catastrophic landslides," said Subhir Sarkar, a geologist.

When asked about the problem, the State Minister for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, Ashok Narayan Bhattacharya, said the state Government has asked the local civic body to take active measures against it.

"We would be organising a seminar in Kalimpong to ascertain the crisis, and whatever the meteorologists say is very much justified and the municipality must look into the matter," said Bhattacharya.

Situated at a height of 2,134 meters, Darjeeling is also famous for its 125-year-old railway, a UNESCO world heritage site where the century old miniature steam engine still chugs.

During the late 50s of the 19th century, Darjeeling was developed as a hill station for Britishers, who wanted to escape the heat of the plains.

As time passed, Darjeeling emerged as a tourists destination. By Taruk Sarkar (ANI)

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