After months of experiencing bitter cold, March announces the arrival of spring in Sikkim, breathing new life into the frosty slopes of the Sikkim Himalayas – turning them into fresh hues of green. It is no wonder that enthusiastic travellers long to experience this marvellous transformation of the mountains around this time. Thus, March marks the beginning of tourist season in Sikkim.
However, this year has been different in Sikkim as compared to previous years, as December and January did not see much rain and snowfall. Come March, the weather Gods showered their blessings on Sikkim. The maximum and the minimum temperatures in this month remained as much as 5 – 10 degrees below normal as compared to previous years. The State received over 147 mm of rain in the first 20 days of March as against the normal rain of 87 mm, which is almost 70% more than normal. While the lower regions received heavy and unprecedented rains, there was excessive snowfall in the higher reaches in North and East Sikkim during the same time, much more than normal for this month in the year.
This record breaking rain and snow resulted in large number or landslides, snow slides, avalanches, road disruptions and blockages across various parts of Sikkim. While North and East Sikkim remain the hearts of tourism, other parts of Sikkim also suffered heavily due to these road disruptions. Various tourists and their vehicles/ taxis, who were visiting Sikkim for the beauty of Spring, got stranded in these land and snow slides.
One organisation which was present, even at the remotest places, to help these people out was the Border Roads Organisation or popularly called the BRO. Project Swastik of this organisation has been developing and maintaining roads in Sikkim since 1960 and even now, they are the ones who are looked up to for any assistance in situations like what Sikkim saw this month.
With their teams spread all over the state, they, have always been the first to assist in case of any road disruptions.
In the month of March alone, the Karamyogis of Project Swastik of BRO assisted more than 10,000 tourists and over 3000 vehicles which had got stuck in various places of North and East Sikkim such as Nathu La Pass, Harbhajan Baba Mandir, Tsongmo (Changgu) Lake, Zuluk, Lachen, Lachung, Gurudongmar Lake, Zero Point and Valley of Flowers.
These daring Karamyogis of BRO go about their work of quick and fast opening of the roads by clearing the land/ snow slides and removal of ice/ sleet from the roads in a very professional manner. But this month saw a different characteristic of the Karamyogi, wherein the humanitarian aspect of the uniformed soldier of BRO
was came to the forefront. While the major force was busy opening roads all day around, a separate team was dedicated for providing comfort to these stranded tourists. These BRO Karamyogis came forward and provided food and shelter to the tourists and taxi operators when they were stuck in extreme cold areas in heavy snow and rain including looking after them and organising their overnight stay at various occasions, invariably at remote places, away from their places of stay. The tourists who were looked after by the BRO had all praises for the Karamyogis of BRO.
This motivated workforce, under the able leadership of Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry, Director General Border Roads, works quietly during day as well as night to keep the places and people connected in the remotest areas of our country, living up to their motto “ Shramena Sarvam Sadhyam” meaning „Everything is Achievable through Hard Work‟.
Nitesh R Pradhan/Army Press Release
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