Rain respite in city, misery in villages

Roads cut off in GH-WKH border, erosion in Balat village

SHILLONG/MAWKYRWAT/TURA/GUWAHATI: Barring a brief respite in the city, torrential rain continued in the state on Thursday.
As many as 40 villages were affected during the last 24 hours due to the rain bringing misery to 1483 residents in these villages as per State Disaster Management Authority.
Four houses were fully damaged and 256 partially.
The infrastructure damage includes public roads, electric poles and buildings.
The government is carrying out survey of the areas affected for relief assistance.
Though no damage was reported from the city, in Ri Bhoi, landslide occurred at Lad-Umsaw, Umsawnong Khrai and Umktieh Pyllun on Wednesday.
Landslide was also reported in Kynshi Bangla and Kynshi village in West Khasi Hills.
Rain throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning caused further damage to road infrastructure in some of the vulnerable sectors of Garo Hills. While the water levels have receded in Baghmara market which was submerged on Wednesday, fresh landslides have caused road communication to snap in the South Garo Hills district.
The national highway connecting Williamnagar to Baghmara via Nangalbibra and Siju was once again cut off on Thursday morning following another landslide in the Rewak area. Road opening parties of the PWD had cleared one area of landslides on Wednesday afternoon but the continuous rainfall had led to more loose earth giving way.
While the road from Tura to Baghmara has been open to traffic, commuters are facing difficulties trying to negotiate the landslide damaged portion from Tura towards Dalu area of West Garo Hills. A large portion of the highway has been washed away due to the torrential rain at 8th mile, near Kherapara, prompting authorities to restrict movement of heavy vehicles across.
Commuters affected
Many travellers using the Shillong to Tura highway via Nongstoin had to turn back on Wednesday and Thursday following a landslide in the Riangdo area, ahead of Shallang.
“We were coming from Shillong and heading to Williamnagar but could not go beyond Nongstoin due to the landslide. We had to take an alternate road that brought us to Rani near Guwahati,” informed some of the tired travellers.
Apart from landslides and inundation of plain areas, no major damage or loss of life has been reported from any part of the region ever since the rains lashed the region beginning Monday night.
Damage in Balat
After June, the Umngi river has again caused trouble to the people of Balat village in South West Khasi Hills. (Picture on P-10)
Following incessant rain since last week, the level of water has risen and the high velocity of water has caused erosion of the river bank besides damaging the houses, schools, a temple and a church.
South West Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner Isawanda Laloo has instructed a team comprising HS Diengdoh, SDO Ranikor Civil Sub-Division, District Disaster Management Officer, DL Kharkongor and Junior Engineer Water Resources Department, Synsharlang Lyngdoh to conduct a joint inspection of the affected areas.
During the inspection, it was found that one residential house and the Presbyterian Church were affected, while one Hindu temple and the Balat Bengali Public LP School were also damaged.
Besides, the office of the Syiem of Hima Maharam and an ICDS Centre also sustained minor damage.
The headman of Balat, Kloilan Khardewsaw informed that water has inundated the kitchen of the Khasi LP School.
“It is not only the big Umngi river that has caused problems to our people, but due to incessant rain in the last few days, the rain water has also caused damage to our village as it has created canals and holes in many places. The problem here is because the soil is loose as it is the sand soil,” Khardewsaw said.  Laloo informed that around 1 km along the stretch of river Umngi till Balat market was found to be vulnerable and it is not safe for the people residing in the area of the river bank.
The team deputed by the deputy commissioner suggested that anti-erosion protection work is mandatory.
The Executive Engineer, Water Resources, C. Wahlang has informed that Brahmaputra Board has invited tender for bank revetment works. The chainage is approximately 2-4 kms along the vulnerable areas.
Further, Laloo has also instructed the BDO of Ranikor Block to direct the VECs to take necessary precautionary works in case of any immediate danger and the Executive Engineer, Water Resources to take steps to prevent further soil erosion of the Umngi river.
“Five places for safe shelter were identified- three at Brahmaputra House, one at ICDS and another at RCLP School,” Laloo said.
The SDO Ranikor Civil Sub-Division, HS Diengdoh and BDO Ranikor, LGM Kharmih again visited the site to monitor the situation and take precautionary measures.
The SDO informed that everyone residing along the river has vacated to the identified safe shelters, Laloo said, adding that the people were also instructed to take extra precaution and not to return to their houses to prevent any untoward incidents.
The DC has also asked the Joint Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management Department, Shillong to take necessary action to pursue with the Brahmaputra Board for quick implementation of anti-erosion protection works.
Due to incessant rain in the past few days, there have been incidents of landslides at Mawthawpdah road, Mawkyrwat-Rangblang road and on the way to Nonghyllam on Wednesday. However, the PWD (Roads) are under the process of restoration.  
The Executive Engineer, PWD (Roads), Nongstoin Division has informed that landslides at numerous stretches on Shillong-Nongstoin-Rongjeng-Tura road NH 44E and 127B, have partially blocked the road and restricted the smooth and safe plying of vehicles.
Complete blockade was reported at 21st, 24th and 25th km of the same road since July 10 and is expected to be cleared soon depending on the decrease of rainfall intensity.
Landslides also occurred at stretches of Mawshynrut-Hahim road disrupting the plying of vehicles. Temporary restoration works to clear the mud slides and restore the movement of vehicles have been taken up.
Drivers have been advised to drive cautiously and every effort from the department has been taken for the convenience of the public, an official statement said.
Jorabat police along with the Kamrup metro district administration have started an awareness drive against landslides, urging residents in the hilly areas of the 11 Mile area along the Assam-Meghalaya border to shift to safer areas during the rainy season.
Elderly man injured
An elderly man was injured in a rain-triggered landslide in the area on Tuesday afternoon.
Jorabat police along with the help of residents immediately shifted Hemeshwar Bora to Gauhati Medical College Hospital.
“The 60-year-old man was injured when his makeshift eatery fell on him owing to the landslide. From yesterday, we have started an awareness drive in the area urging people living in the hills to shift to safer places during the rainy season,” sub inspector Boro told The Shillong Times on Thursday.
Jorabat police along with the help of local people in the area rescued the person and immediately shifted him to Gauhati Medical College.
Local sources say that the natural calamity is triggered by rain as well as human activities such as earth cutting in the hilly areas.

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