Integrated Mountain Initiative stands in solidarity with the people of Sikkim, West Bengal and Bangladesh who have had to face the onslaught of GLOF and the flash flood.
The Glacial Lake Outburst Flood from Lhonak Lake at 5,200 m (17,100 ft) above sea level in North Sikkim and the subsequent breach of the Teesta III Dam at Chungthang on 4 October 2023 has left a trail of destruction along the Lachen Chu and River Teesta with 37 people losing their lives, 78 missing and countless property and assets washed away or damaged. The floods have damaged critical infrastructure, important biodiversity landscapes and affected lives of people in Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kalimpong leaving a traumatic mark especially for people living in the proximity of the Lachen Chu and River Teesta. The recovery process is going to be long drawn and expensive.
The disaster once again is a reminder that the Himalaya needs mountain sensitive policies and practices that acknowledges the socio-ecological importance and fragility of the landscape. The disaster is a reminder of the impacts of development choices that we have taken in the Himalaya as well as how global issues like climate change is impacting and compounding the challenging that mountain people face
As we move from relief to rehabilitation we must mainstream disaster risk reduction and resilience building. Importantly, all policies need to be made mountain sensitive and appropriate resources allocated and developed that acknowledges the socio-ecological importance and fragility of the Himalaya.
We offer our heartfelt prayers to all affected by the Teesta disaster. .
Integrated Mountain Initiative
16 October 2023
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