Downpour in the hills wreck links to Dooars

Downpour in the hills wreck links to Dooars
Heavy rain pounded Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts since Monday night, triggering landslides in the hills and snapping road and rail connectivity in the Dooars where several rivers and streams swept away earth from below bridges and culverts.

Two persons were killed when a pick-up van fell into a crater created by the cave-in of a portion of a bridge over the Zurantikhola stream in Jalpaiguri district early on Monday.

The bridge near Bagrakote in the Malbazar subdivision is along NH31C.

The Leesh, a prominent river in the western Dooars, overflowed and washed away the earth under a railway bridge in the Malbazar subdivision, leaving a section of the tracks suspended in air.

“The scale of devastation caused by heavy rainfall is huge and we need sometime to restore road and rail connectivity,” said a senior Bengal government official.

Since Monday late evening, it started raining in most areas of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts. Places like Bagrakote received around 230mm of rainfall till Tuesday morning. The India Meteorological Department has said Champasari near Siliguri and Murti in the Dooars recorded around 130mm of rain.

“Almost all rivers and streams have swelled. While some spilled over the banks, others damaged or inundated bridges and culverts and washed away the earth from under these structures,” said the official.

He added that the administration was worried as weather experts had forecast heavy rainfall in north Bengal from Tuesday till Thursday.

Two persons who were killed in the pick-up van crash near Bagrakote were driver Abhishek Sheikh, 36, and helper Debashi Sha, 26. Both hailed from Siliguri.

“The van laden with bananas was heading for Assam from Siliguri. The driver seemed to have missed the cave-in and the vehicle plunged into the crater,” said a police officer in Malbazar.

As NH31C caved in near Bagrakote and a railway bridge was swept away partially by the Leesh river, people are forced to take a detour via Gajoldoba or Jalpaiguri for travel between the Dooars and Siliguri.

K.S. Jain, the divisional railway manager of the Alipurduar division of the NFR, said a stretch of 20 to 22 metres of railway tracks had been damaged by the Leesh river and it would take two to three days for the restoration.

In the Darjeeling hills, some places like Kalimpong, Sevoke and Sukhiapokhri recorded close to 100mm of showers.

According to sources, landslides occurred near Kurseong along NH55, a circuitous route from Siliguri to Darjeeling.
Traffic was disrupted on the Mirik-Dudhia, Pankhabari and Gayabari roads also because of the landslides. The roads were restored for traffic later in the day.

“The monsoon trough continues to move close to the foothills of the Himalayas and there is a strong moisture incursion from Bay of Bengal. These can even lead to an extremely heavy rain in the region. There are chances of landslides and inundation of low-lying areas,” said a weather expert.

Heavy rain pounded Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts since Monday night, triggering landslides in the hills and snapping road and rail connectivity

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