Finally Sun Shines - Landslides Across North Bengal Make Road Travel Difficult
Normal life remained disrupted in the Darjeeling hills and its foothills following heavy rains since last Tuesday which caused landslides at some places, snapping the direct road links between Siliguri, Mirik and Dooars and damaging stretches along National Highway 10 (NH-10).
However, as rains stopped on the fourth day and the sun shone faintly Friday morning, the administration is hopeful that the situation will not worsen further. Officials of the district administration at Alipurduar and Darjeeling said boulders were blocking the roads at Kalijhora and Raktikhola, and vehicles were being diverted to Panighata via Hillcart Road, though parts of that road are in bad shape.
“Garubathan is also cut off due to rains, and hundreds of tourists are stuck. The road has been damaged from Jayanti Bazar to Kukripahar due to the landslides, and locals are stranded at Jayanti in north Bengal,” an official said.
The road leading to Peiling in Sikkim remained cut off due to landslides at Namchi and Rangpo, but the Lava-Lolegaon route in Darjeeling is still working, though only cars and small vehicles took the detour, officials said.
“There have been boulders along at least four points of the NH-10 which links Siliguri to Sikkim, but personnel from the Border Roads Organisation, SSB, State Disaster Management Force and the Army are working to restore the areas, and if there are no more rains later in the day, the situation may improve,” an official of Darjeeling district said.
Moreover the rivers Teesta and Jaldhaka in Jalpaiguri, Mahananda in Darjeeling and Santosh and Kaljani in Alipurduar have been overflowing.
Several low-lying areas of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri have been inundated after the lockgates on the Teesta were opened. Malbazar town, where basic amenities were available, also remained cut off due to the rains.
Officials at Bagdogra airport maintained that at least seven domestic flights to Kolkata were cancelled due to the incessant rain. North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb said that the tourists are safe, and the government will ensure that arrangements are made for smooth movement of traffic.
“Repair works are going on at the highways and roads where landslides occurred. Meanwhile, vehicles are being diverted to functioning routes till the time the roads are repaired,” said Deb. The state government made available a helpline (0354 2255749) to provide assistance to affected people.
With inputs from PTI
Pic, Robin Rai: Tourists enjoying weather relief at Chowrasta