S/J thromde at risk from Dungsamchhu

A disaster assessment report says long-term permanent measures are required

Disaster: Until Samdrupjongkhar thromde comes up with permanent solutions, the Dungsamchhu will continue to pose a high risk to the entire town according to a disaster assessment report conducted by the thromde.

Every year, the Samdrupjongkhar thromde experiences flash floods caused by the Dungsamchhu.

The report points out that the river has a history of causing destruction after incessant rains causes it to swell resulting in  flash floods.

This also results in landslides which cause damage to infrastructure.

Although reinforced cement flood protection walls along the river banks have been built, the strong current of the river  damages and washes away the walls.

However, the report mentions that the walls did serve its purpose and has saved lives and property.

To prevent damage and secure the safety of the thromde, the damage assessment report recommends permanent measures be put in place.

However, this move would require huge investments and studies regarding the feasibility and other risk factors, to come up with durable protection walls.

The report has been submitted to the works and human settlement ministry and was also discussed during the recent special thromde tshogde.

The report points out that the recent flood damaged the Nu 3.08 million suspension bridge that connects the old national housing colony and the main town.

The swollen river caused the middle pillar of the bridge to tilt as a result of excessive abutment base scouring, less than a month after it was opened to the public. It is currently closed to pedestrian traffic.

Reconstruction of the pedestrian suspension bridge is in progress. The bridge will have to be de-assembled and the abutment strengthened.

The recent flood also caused two panels of flood protection walls to tilt and one to collapse at two different areas.  Retention walls and roads were damaged due to landslides near the national housing colony and hospital.

The landslides also destroyed the water supply pipelines at Pinchina, which cost the thromde Nu 99,615 to build. The pipe lines are the town’s main supply. The restoration works were carried out immediately and the pipes replaced.

The recent flash flood also washed away a temporary wooden bridge that connects Samdrupjongkhar primary school that was constructed last year. The wooden bridge was constructed to replace a suspension bridge that was also washed away by a flood caused by the same river.

Students, teachers and parents are using a suspension bridge that is currently still under construction but nearing  completion.

However, the thromde administration is pursuing immediate reconstruction measures for all the damaged areas and major rectification will be carried out after the monsoon.

Thrompon Karma Sherab Thobgyal said they wrote to the works and human settlement ministry seeking advice as the thromde lacks technical expertise for such matters. He pointed out that in-depth studies are required to tame the Dungsamchhu and protect the town from floods.

The thrompon added that the thromde has already put up a budget proposal to the ministry. “This will require huge capital investment and the office lacks specialised engineers to conduct a detailed study.”

The thrompon added that they carry out the usual flood protection works but it has not been a permanent solution especially during the summers. He said there is a need for long term solutions.

“We’re waiting for the ministry’s advice. We definitely need different and permanent technology to control the river,” the thrompon said.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Samdrupjongkhar

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