Update: With the Setikharey stream in Gelephu subsiding and the weather improving yesterday, settlements in Pelrithang are now safe from the threat of flooding.

In the last four days, at least 20 houses were evacuated from Pelrithang village in Gelephu gewog. The evacuees include 11 households from below the Gelephu-Zhemgang highway, five households from above the highway, a general shop, a fabrication house, a warehouse and a furniture house.

Gelephu gewog administrative officer Kinley Wangdi said that of the 20 evacuated houses, two are damaged beyond repair. “All other houses are partially damaged by the flood but people can still live in them with major to minor maintenance,” he said.

He however said that the gewog administration is yet to carry out a thorough damage assessment. “Until now we just focused on evacuation and safety of the settlement here,” he added.

Vehicular movement resumed between Gelephu and Pelrithang yesterday afternoon after the Department of Roads (DoR) managed to build a diversion road. With the level of the stream lower, people are also now able to walk across the stream.

The Gelephu-Tsirang highway however remains disconnected at Sarpang. About 250 metres of the highway was washed away by the July 21 flood.

Before the highway is rebuilt for vehicular movement, the Sarpang river has to be completely diverted back to its original course.

Until late evening yesterday, two excavators were deployed full-time to divert the river. At least 50 civil servant volunteers and 25 DoR staff were also involved in helping to divert the river.  “We could divert 75 percent of the river to its original course,” DoR’s executive engineer CB Mongar said. “We’ll try to divert the river completely by afternoon today.”

He added that if there is no rainfall today, the Sarpang-Tsirang highway could be opened to traffic by late evening.

Nirmala Pokhrel