Gangtok, Oct 10: In a virtual meeting between Sikkim’s Chief Secretary, V. B. Pathak, and Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, a crucial issue regarding the lack of telecommunication connectivity in North Sikkim came to the forefront. This communication blackout was significantly hindering ongoing rescue and relief operations in the region.

To address this pressing concern, the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) devised a plan in collaboration with the Indian Army. The plan aimed to transport five Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) units and a team of technicians via helicopter to strategic locations such as Lachen, Lachung, Chungthang, Chatten, and Theng. The objective was to restore vital communication links in these areas, which were severely affected by the recent flooding.

Additionally, Chief Secretary Pathak highlighted the grim situation caused by the flooding. He mentioned that the Army Ammunition Depot located at Munshithang, situated above Chungthang, had been entirely destroyed by the floodwaters.

This calamity led to the contamination of the Teesta basin with weapons, ammunition, and explosives. This posed a severe threat to the safety of local residents and complicated the efforts to clear debris and sludge, especially in residential areas along the riverbank.

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In response to this perilous situation, authorities issued a public advisory urging citizens to promptly report any sightings of stray ammunition or explosives to the local police. The Indian Army was actively engaged in controlled detonation operations wherever necessary to neutralize the hazardous materials.

Moreover, Chief Secretary Pathak informed Cabinet Secretary Gauba about a significant development concerning the state’s response to the crisis. The Sikkim Government had taken the initiative to reach out to the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). They had formally requested ISRO’s assistance in conducting surveillance over two critical locations—South Lhonak Lake and Shako Chu Lake. The primary objective of this surveillance was to monitor any unusual activities that could potentially lead to another catastrophic event in the region.

This proactive step aimed to enhance early warning and preparedness measures in the face of the volatile natural conditions and heightened risks posed by the flooding and its aftermath. By leveraging ISRO’s expertise in remote sensing and satellite technology, the Sikkim Government sought to bolster its monitoring capabilities and ensure the safety and security of its citizens.

Sikkim Government, in collaboration with various agencies, was actively addressing the multifaceted challenges brought about by the devastating floods in the region. From restoring critical communication infrastructure to managing the hazards posed by the presence of military explosives, authorities were leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to safeguard lives and property. The partnership with ISRO for surveillance over key water bodies underscored their commitment to proactive disaster management and mitigation strategies.