NATURAL DISASTER: Untimely landslides block NH 31A – Vehicles left stranded on road to Sikkim

NATURAL DISASTER: Untimely landslides block NH 31A – Vehicles left stranded on road to Sikkim – blame it on the Morcha or vibrations from increased traffic or more appropriately, ‘blasting’ a young & fragile mountain decades ago ?!!

The boulders that fell on NH31A at Hatisuray, between Baagh Pul (Coronation Bridege) and NHPC's 27th Mile in Kalimpong subdivision - and the monsoons this year have not yet arrived in full ?!! (Photo by Kundan Yolmo)

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Siliguri, June 11: Landslides blocked NH31A at Hatisuray this afternoon, leaving hundreds of vehicles travelling between Siliguri and Sikkim stranded. The Border Roads Organisation has started removing debris, but traffic is yet to be restored.

Although the weather was warm and sunny — landslides usually occur during rainy season — boulders, some of them over 10 feet high, came tumbling down around 12.30pm, blocking the highway for a stretch of 60 metres. However, no person or vehicle came under the falling debris.

“Considering the bright and sunny weather, we had never expected such a huge landslide. The boulders fell on the road and within minutes a stretch of 60 metres or so was blocked,” said an officer at the Sevoke police outpost. “After being informed about the incident by us, Border Roads Organisation officers reached the spot and since then, they have been trying to remove the rubble. Given the size of the boulders, it seems that there is no other option but to trigger blasts to clear the road.”

Hatisuray is 30km from Siliguri and is located between Sevoke and Kalikhora. The spot is prone to landslides during the monsoon.

“I am supposed to catch my train from New Jalpaiguri this evening. We somehow managed to cross the blocked portion, carrying our luggage, and arranged for another vehicle to reach the station in time,” said Loknath Chatterjee, a resident of Behala in Calcutta. He had been to Gangtok with his family and was returning today.

Many others like him dodged the stones and rubble to reach the other side. Some of the vehicles, too, started plying from both the ends.

While vehicles on Sevoke side started for Siliguri, those stuck in the opposite direction left for Gangtok and Kalimpong, carrying passengers.

With the highway being closed, people moving to Kalimpong or Sikkim had to take alternative routes through Damdim-Gorubathan-Lava-Loleygaon or Jorebungalow-Teestabazar to reach their destinations.

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