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Mining in Bhutan may lead to flashflood in N Bengal

Shantanu Nadan Sharma

Sunday 11 July 2004, by SHARMA*Shantanu Nandan

NEW DELHI: It’s a threat coming out of the most unlikely quarters. The Government seems to be have no clue on how to pressurise the Thimphu regime for taking action against unscientific dolomite mining in southern Bhutan.

Already, haphazard mining of dolomite has taken a gigantic shape, resulting in siltation and landslide in rivers coming down to Duar areas of North Bengal.

With monsoon setting in and river beds of the area rising in an unprecedented manner, there is a fear that a massive flash flood may wash away hundreds of villages near the rivers like Pugli, Sankosh, Torsa, Jaldhaka, Medak and Raidak.

Joachim Baxla, the MP from Alipurduar told ET that farmers at the Duar region were having sleepless nights for the fear of a flash flood. “After this year’s monsoon had arrived, the people of the Duar area are in fear of a flash flood. River materials from the hills are coming down, and over the years, the problem is getting worse.

“The NDA government didn’t take up the matter seriously. We hope, water resources and external affairs ministries now will be able to convince the Bhutan government to look into the matter urgently. An Indo-Bhutan joint river commission is a must for getting the details,” he adds

An official of the water resources ministry acknowledges the magnitude of the problem. He told ET, “The issue needs to be dealt with all seriousness. Bhutan has always been a friend with India. We have several centres in Bhutan, which give data on the release of river water, on the basis of which, we do flood forecasting. However, unscientific dolomite mining in Bhutan has turned out to be a major threat to North Bengal. This is very much in our priority.”

Significantly, in a flash flood in Arunachal Pradesh in July 2000, as many as 30 people died and more than 100 went missing.

India blamed China after Images taken by a Canadian satellite used by India’s National Remote Sensing Agency revealed that flash floods hit Arunachal after a Chinese dam on the Tsangpo river was breached. ? Bennett, Coleman and Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.

See online : The Economic Times


in The Economic Times, Sunday, July 11, 2004.

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