Balasun river: Horses are proving to be as effective as heavy machinery in the hills of Darjeeling. Hydraulic excavators on crawler belts using air compressors to break huge boulders are working alongside ponies on the banks of the Balasun as the company executing the Darjeeling Water Supply Scheme tries to meet its December 2009 deadline. The Hyderabad-based construction company, Ramky Infrastructure Ltd, stumbled on the idea of using horses after they observed the local villagers.

The Darjeeling district administration has decided to start culling in the Bijanbari-Pulbazar area, where the outbreak of bird flu has been confirmed, from Sunday. District magistrate Rajesh Pandey today held a meeting with other officials to work out the logistics of the operations.

Culling of chicken which began in two blocks of Siliguri and one block of Kurseong in birdflu-affected Darjeeling district will continue for another two days, Darjeeling district magistrate Rajesh Pandey said. A total of 20,298 birds were culled in the blocks since May 10, he said. Few thousands were yet to be killed due to non-cooperation in a few villages, he said. It was decided at an emergency meeting on Wednesday that the mopping drive which began on Wednesday would also continue, officials said.

Darjeeling: The Bengal government is working on a war footing to inaugurate a long-delayed drinking water project in Darjeeling by November next year. The Darjeeling Water Supply Scheme is expected to supply enough potable water to all parts of the town, solving a 30-year-old problem. The Rs 55.86-crore scheme, first conceived in 1995-96, was sent to the backburner for more than a decade before it was revived in 2006.

Chicken has gone off the menu at many Siliguri homes with the Darjeeling district administration confirming bird flu in a village located just over 20km from the town. Culling operation in Poinikumari, the affected village, and areas within a 5km-radius started yesterday. "The team from the animal resource development department had culled 3,973 poultry birds yesterday. Another 7,000 are expected to be culled by 11pm today,' said Rajesh Pandey, the district magistrate of Darjeeling.

Kalimpong: DGHC administrator B.L. Meena has agreed to take up landslide prevention work in the hills on a priority basis. He, however, cautioned that it would take time to accomplish the onerous task. After meeting representatives of NGOs like Citizen Rights Forum, Kalimpong, and Save The Hills, Meena said the Bengal government has already identified roads, drinking water, rural electrification, education and health as priority areas, and landslide prevention would be added to the list.

An evaluation of disasters in the form of landslides and floods is presented. The study has been carried out in the perspective of nonlinearity, chaos and the complexity of their management.

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