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Dalai Lama’s Gangtok, Salugara visits postponed due to historic flood disaster

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(TibetanReview.net, Oct09’23) – The scheduled visits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Gangtok, capital of India’s northeastern Tibet-border state of Sikkim, and Salugara, in neighbouring West Bengal state, over Oct 16-22 have been postponed due to the unprecedented flood disaster that has thrown out of gear normal life in the region.

“In view of the recent disaster in Sikkim caused by floods and the ongoing focus of the state machinery in relief efforts, the planned visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Gangtok and Salugara scheduled from October 16 to 22 has been postponed until further notice,” said a notice issued by his office Oct 8.

The Dalai Lama was to give a teaching on Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo’s 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva (laklen sodunma) on Oct 11 in Gangtok and conduct a Ceremony for Generation of Bodhicitta (semkye) at Sed-Gyued Monastery in Saluguara.

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Also, While in New Delhi, the Dalai Lama, who was suffering from a persistent cold, reportedly consulted doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, on Oct 8.

There was nothing to worry about and he would be back in Dharamshala in the next two-three days, PTI news agency Oct cited Chhime Rigzin, secretary at his office in Dharamshala, as saying Oct 9.

Earlier, AIIMS dismissed an earlier PTI report saying the exile Tibetan spiritual leader had been admitted in the hospital.

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Meanwhile, in Sikkim, a total of 105 people have been missing six days after a cloudburst over Lhonak lake in Mangan district caused an upsurge in Teesta river, flooding several towns on the river basin across four districts in the Himalayan state, reported PTI Oct 9.

Chungthang Dam, also known as the Teesta 3 dam and part of a major hydropower project in the state, was “washed away,” according to a statement issued by the National Disaster Management Authority on Oct 4 night.

The Sikkim government has confirmed 34 deaths in the state as of Oct 9 due to flash floods caused by a glacial lake burst last week. Besides, as many as 40 other bodies were found in the riverbed of a raging Teesta in the neighbouring Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, reported ndtv.com Oct 9.

The PTI report said as many as 3,432 houses, both kuccha and pucca, had been damaged, with a total of 5,327 people rescued and evacuated. Altogether 14 bridges had been either washed out or submerged, affecting road communication in the state.

A total of 6,505 people had been rendered homeless and sheltered at 26 relief camps in four districts. The number of people affected by the flash flood was stated to stand at 85,870.

The report further said the Met Department on Oct 9 forecast light to moderate rain in many places accompanied by thunderstorms and lightning in sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim over the next five days.

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