Institute for Social and Economic Change
Working Paper: 539
Comprehending Landslides, MGNREGS and Decentralised
Government: A Study in Sikkim and Darjeeling
In India, over 12 percent of the total land is vulnerable to landslide disasters. Being a region-specific disaster and a local problem, landslides have to be dealt with locally. In this regard, a decentralized form of governance is considered to be more suitable for disaster management and risk reduction. Sikkim and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration region (consisting of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts) in West Bengal frequently face landslide problems. Both regions have similar geological, geomorphologic, geographical structures and common landslide problems. There is, however, a difference in terms of local government that deals with the landslide disaster. Sikkim state is considered to be having one of the best decentralised governments in the country. However, in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration region, local administration functions are undertaken by the district government since there is no local government at the village level as elections have not been held.
In this paper, we examine the role of the local government in disaster risk reduction. First, we discuss the functions assigned to local government in disaster risk reduction in both regions. Second, we analyse the performance of disaster risk reduction-related activities undertaken under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). The key finding is that the performance of Sikkim is better in the implementation of MGNREGS activities such as flood control, water conservation and harvesting, land development and renovation of traditional water bodies which have considerable potential to reduce the risk of landslides. It is argued in the paper that the better performance in Sikkim can be attributed to the decentralised government in the state.