Ministers visit Sirarakhong, environment degradation noted

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SIRARAKHONG, Apr 6 : Forest and Environment Minister Th Shyamkumar and Tribal Development Minister N Kayisi visited Sirarakhong village in Ukhrul district to take a first hand account of the ground situation there and take up necessary arrangements for the victims and the village.

As immediate aid to the affected villagers, the two Ministers donated a sum of Rs 6.5 lakh from the side of the State Government.

Four houses sank in the landslide which occurred there on April 5 afternoon while 14/15 houses have also been badly affected.

The two Ministers were accompanied by the Chief Conservator of the State Forest Department, Environment Director, Horticulture and Soil Conservation Director and other officials concerned during the tour to the affected village.

Apart from the incessant rainfall in the last couple of days, environmental degradation, particularly large scale felling of trees, the crack that developed at the hill side following the construction of the village play ground in January this year, lack of drainage system etc are thought to be factors for the landslide.

Though the there was no human casualty, the villagers are still apprehensive of what will happen if there are more down pour in the coming days.

Addressing the villagers at the Church later, Shyamkumar said that he and N Kayisi were asked by Chief Minister N Biren to visit the village as soon as news of the landslide reached the Government.

Stating that they are there to see how the Government may extend assistance to the affected villagers, Shyamkumar said that the landslide is a fall out of environmental degradation.

Shyamkumar further said that the landslide is also a fall out of the failure of the previous Government and the departments concerned to visit the hill districts and spread awareness on the need to protect the environment and added that the State Government is ready to do the needful.

To immediately meet the needs of the affected the people, a sum of Rs 3.5 lakh including Rs 50,000 from the Forest Department, Rs 2 lakh from the Environment Department and Rs 1 lakh from Horticulture and Soil Conservation Department, was handed over to the villagers by Shyamkumar.

The Minister said that tree plantation programmes would be launched in a big way in the village and added that the State Government will extend what ever assistance is needed.
Tribal Development Minister N Kayisi also handed over a sum of Rs 3 lakh on behalf of his department and announced that TD will soon construct a retaining wall on the upper side of the play ground.

The villagers duly acknowledged the visit of the two Ministers as well as the financial assistance forwarded to them. The villagers said that such a gesture from the State Government will go a long way in cementing ties between the hills and the valley. Earlier ahead of the visit by the Ministers, the district administration led by SDO LM block Pawan Yadav, SP, Ukhrul Hemant Pandey, CO BRTF Velraj, MBC Peace and Development Director Rev T Karang, TBCA and TFO visited village and interacted with the victims and villagers.
Out of the four houses which sank, one has been completely destroyed while the office of the Weavers’ Society was partially damaged. Mud has filled the village play ground.
SDO said the detailed report would be submitted to the authority concerned for immediate assistance.

According to SDRF, 18 more houses more within an area of 600 square metres have been notified as vulnerable.

At present, the victims have temporarily shifted to the houses of their relatives, but the need to establish a relief camp has been mooted to move the people from the houses which have been identified as vulnerable.

Source: The Sangai Express

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