Potential artificial lake formation raises alarm in Phuentshogling, landslide threatens village

A landslide at Pachhugang village in Phuentshogling Gewog of Chhukha has partially blocked the Amochhu, raising concerns about the potential formation of an artificial lake. The landslide at Pachhugang also known as Balden Dara, is gradually eroding more area every monsoon. This year is no exception, as the monsoon has once again triggered the landslide affecting the settlement which is located just above the landslide area.

This is the landslide area where almost half of the slope is washed away.

The images available on Google Earth show that in 2004, there was a minor landslide. According to villagers, since then the landslide has started becoming active.






And these are images of the landslide before and after the monsoon in 2012.


An assessment was carried out in 2021 after a massive landslide occurred depositing the debris on the bank of Amochhu. This has obstructed the river but the assessment report stated that there was low possibility of formation of an artificial lake at the time.

Considering the risks, the officials from the district administration, Thromde and Dungkhag offices again visited the site and assessed it last month.

It was observed that the ongoing landslide at the top of Pachhugang has extended to the nearby settlement. But the report stated that the formation of an artificial lake is highly unlikely.

However, the Dungkhag and Gewog officials who also visited the site yesterday found that the landslide is blocking the Amochhu.

Officials now say it may lead to a formation of an artificial lake.

“The situation has become critical compared to how it was two weeks ago.  The width of the river has already become narrow. If the landslide continues, it will block the river and create a lake. And then if it bursts, the entire settlement below will be at risk,” said Karma Jurmi, Phuentshogling Dungpa.

“The situation has worsened. The lands that were here a few weeks ago have now slid away,” said Birkha Bdr. Rai, Phuentshogling Gup.

With the landslide affecting the settlement which is located on the top of the slope, two families were relocated to a safer place. And three more will be relocated soon.

“It has become risky for us to live here. The officials have relocated us to a safer place with temporary sheds. We sometimes come here to check on the situation. We feel sad to leave our homes like this as we have been living here for years. But again, what can we do? We have to leave,” said Menor Lepcha, a resident.

“My father has been sick since March and on top of this I am losing my land to the landslide. Previously, it eroded my land but now it is closing in on my house. Cracks have developed on the walls of my house. It has become very risky and is scary to even look down the slide,” said Baliman Rai, another resident.

Meanwhile, the Dungkhag office has asked the affected families to look for substitute land so that they can help them in processing documents to acquire new land.

The office is also exploring possibilities to send machinery to clear the debris.

Kinley Dem

Edited by Tshering Zam

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