A social activist has accused the Northern Frontier Railway of concealing an alert by Geological Survey of India (GSI) to evacuate from the affected site prior to the occurrence of the massive landslide that struck the camp site of NF Railway and the Indian Army company at Makhuam (Marangching) in Noney district, Manipur.
Social activist Majabung Gangmei stated the accusation while speaking to media persons at Makhuam (Marangching) village during inspection of the ongoing search and rescue operation to trace the missing bodies of the victims at the incident site.
Gangmei stated that a team of GSI scientists that inspected the landslide affected site had issued an alert to evacuate the area before June 28 this year (2022).
He pointed out that an environmental assessment survey conducted by GSI in 2013 and 2017 had cautioned that the area was not feasible for construction of railway tracks.
However, the NF Railways went ahead with the project, he said, contending that the GSI alert was allegedly not taken into consideration.
“The massive landslide that claimed the lives of several Indian Army personnel and civilians was more of a man-made disaster than a natural one,” he stated.
Gangmei further expressed apprehension that the ongoing railway project, even when it becomes fully functional, will jeopardise lives of several people.
The social activist drew the attention of the government and authorities concerned to conduct fresh soil, seismological and feasibility surveys once again to avoid such unfortunate incidents in the future.
Meanwhile, additional chief secretary MH Khan, who is in-charge of the relief and disaster management, clarified that the state government was not informed about the alert by GSI.
In such a scenario, it is pertinent to question whether the NF Railways deliberately concealed the GSI alert.
Meanwhile, Makhuam village authority demanded appropriate compensation for the losses of personal properties of the affected people namely farming sites, estates, domestic livestock and sand stone quarrying sites, including its stake up material at sites.
The village authority further demanded to create a suitable dumping site for the debris and the pile of landslide soil so as to maintain ecological balance in the near future of Makhuam (Marangching) area and the downstream of Izei river.
The villagers also demanded customary rites of cleansing the village after a calamity or tragic incident struck the village and for customary funeral expenses be provided. Free education up to graduation level be provided to the unfortunate three orphaned children of the victims by the NF Railway.
Further, the village authority demanded to change the nomenclature of Tupul Railway Sub-station to Makhuam Railway Sub-station and Haochong Railway Sub-Station also to be changed to Makhuam Railway Sub-station and Jiri to Makhuam Railway line.
Till Monday (July 18, 2022), bodies of five missing persons remained untraceable despite relentless efforts of the search and rescue team consisting of personnel of the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, Manipur Police, Indian Army and Assam Rifles and several volunteers.
As many as 79 people were affected by the massive landslide that occurred on the intervening night of June 29-30. Of the 79 affected, 56 total bodies have been recovered so far, while 18 people, who sustained injuries, have been rescued alive from the landslide debris, according to official sources.
It is said that the search and rescue operation will be reviewed on Tuesday with a meeting chaired by state Relief and Disaster Minister Awangbow Newmai.
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