MK Subba, Chief Spokesperson of the Sikkim Democratic Front on November 10 submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Home Affairs on behalf of Shri Pawan Chamling, urging the Government of India to intervene and initiate a CBI investigation into the recent South Lhonak Lake Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF). The devastating incident, which occurred on October 3rd and 4th, 2023, claimed hundreds of lives and wreaked havoc on public and national infrastructure in Sikkim.
The memorandum underlines the alarming consequences of the GLOF throwing light the loss of lives, destruction of movable properties, and severe damage to critical state and national assets, including National Highway 10 and the Teesta Stage 3 dam.
A central point of contention in the memorandum is the shifting and conflicting statements made by Chief Minister Shri PS Golay regarding the advance knowledge of the impending disaster. Subba accuses Golay of mismanagement and failure to disseminate timely information to the public, pointing out discrepancies in the Chief Minister's official press conferences on October 6th and October 16th, 2023. The memorandum emphasizes that swift and accurate information could have saved lives and properties.
Furthermore, the memorandum criticizes the Chief Minister for attempting to politicize the disaster by labeling the dam as "substandard" without factual evidence or technical reports. It draws attention to the absence of a preliminary report on the disaster from the Government of Sikkim to date.
The noncompliance of the Government of Sikkim with the National Disaster Management Authority’s (NDMA) Guidelines Management of GLOFs is strongly condemned in the memorandum. It protests the government's failure to formulate a state plan for preparedness, prevention, mitigation, and response to GLOFs, as mandated by the NDMA.
The memorandum also raises concerns about the Government of Sikkim's failure to implement the Dam Safety Act 2021, emphasizing the absence of a State Committee on Dam Safety and a State Dam Safety Organisation. It highlights how compliance with this act could have prevented dam failure and reduced the intensity of the disaster.
Additionally, the appointment of Sunil Saraogi as Executive Chairman and Director of Sikkim Urja Limited, despite legal and propriety concerns raised by the Hon'ble High Court of Sikkim, is flagged as a serious issue. The memorandum questions the administration of the Teesta Stage III dam, operating at 120% capacity during the disaster, and accuses the government of noncompliance with disaster norms.
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