… Seven Mendrelgang households relocated as authorities deem village unsafe

KP Sharma

Threatened by the risk of massive slope failures, seven households in Mendrelgang village in Pemagatshel have been relocated to relief camps recently. 

The disaster assessment team of Nganglam drungkhag has concluded that the village, located 28 kms away from the Nganglam Drungkhag Administration in Decheling gewog is unsafe for settlement and has suggested its relocation for safety reasons.

According to the assessment report, seven out of the 13 households are facing the most severe impact, experiencing the development of cracks in their houses and adjoining land, in addition to substantial peripheral landslides. 

  Villagers and local government officials inspect the cracks in the slope (Photo: Jimba Drukpa)

Based on the information from the local community, the report stated that there was a formation of an artificial lake near the riverine below their settlement, which burst on July 12 this year. Following the lake bust, a series of unnatural disturbances gradually unfolded in the area, including landslides, soil erosion, and the development of cracks in both houses and the surrounding land.

“At the right side of the settlement, there is a heavy landslide area created with the crown almost touching the mountain top,” the report stated. 

The report stated that the slope failure could have been exacerbated by various factors such as the construction of a farm road, rainfall, seismic activity, and other types of land development activities, adding that these factors are not confined solely to landslides but also encompass the movement of mass rock, debris, and soil down the slope.

The team further discovered that a portion of the farm built in 2015 was entirely eroded and the road now needs realignment.

The presence of parallel horizontal cracks as well as intermittent profile fault crack lines observed at multiple locations indicates that there is a continuous slope failure in the area.

While the seven houses have not sustained major damages to date, a few of them are gradually experiencing safety issues. 

This includes the emergence of cracks in walls, and basements, and even the development of cracks in the cultivated land surrounding the houses.

To help the affected households, the drungkhag and gewog administration have initiated the construction of seven relief camps on a cost-sharing basis. The drungkhag provided the materials such as CGI sheets. 

Jimba Phuntsho, Decheling gup said that the households located in the secondary risky zone are still living in their homes. He added that the gewog administration is committed to assisting these individuals until the issues are resolved.

To support the drungkhag’s assessment recommendations, the team also called for a comprehensive geotechnical study by experts in the field since the initial recommendations were made based on visual observations of the incident site and its visible impact.