Wednesday, Jul 10, 2024 09:30 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Jul 10, 2024 03:54 [IST]


The closure of National Highway 10 (NH10) due to frequent landslides is not merely an inconvenience; it is a severe economic blow to Sikkim and the hilly regions of North Bengal, notably Darjeeling and Kalimpong. The recurring disruptions on this crucial artery have precipitated substantial financial losses, which needs urgent attention.

Sikkim suffers a staggering daily loss of Rs. 100 crore whenever NH10 is closed. This figure is not just a statistic; it represents halted economic activities, stymied movement of goods and people, and a substantial decline in the state's revenue, particularly from Goods and Services Tax (GST). For a small state like Sikkim, such a loss is monumental, impacting every facet of its economy and livelihood.

Chief Minister PS Golay has articulated these concerns to the Prime Minister and relevant Union ministers, emphasizing the critical nature of NH10 for Sikkim’s connectivity and economic stability. The current closure for repairs on the Rangpo-Sevoke stretch, exacerbated by monsoon-induced landslides and road subsidence, highlights the vulnerability of this lifeline.

The impact of NH10's closures extends beyond Sikkim. The hilly districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong in North Bengal also suffer. These regions rely heavily on NH10 for their economic exchanges with the rest of India. The frequent disruptions not only hamper the movement of goods but also affect tourism, a key economic driver in these picturesque locales.

Chief Minister Golay's advocacy for bringing NH10 under a Central agency is a prudent move. Such a transition could ensure better maintenance, quicker response times to repair needs, and more robust infrastructural support. Additionally, the idea of developing a Himalayan Railway Line between Bakrakote in West Bengal and Rorathang in Sikkim is a forward-thinking initiative. This historical proposal, dating back to 1917, if realized, could provide a resilient alternative to road transport, especially during the monsoon season when landslides are most frequent.

A significant contributor to the road disruptions is the swelling Teesta River, which has increasingly washed away road formations. The river’s bed has risen by 10-15 meters due to siltation from the October 2023 flood. Chief Minister Golay has rightly pointed out that this is not just a Sikkim issue but one that affects the entire hilly region.

The formation of a committee by the Jal Shakti ministry to study the Teesta River’s morphology and recommend measures to reduce siltation is a crucial step. The panel's interim and final reports will be pivotal in devising long-term solutions to mitigate the damage caused by the river’s changing dynamics. Implementing these measures is essential to protect infrastructure and ensure the uninterrupted flow of commerce and daily life in the region.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi