NATURAL DISASTER: Rain displaces hundreds – youth washed away, villages inundated – the rivers are rising and the people are praying ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
July 18: Nearly eight rivers are in spate in north Bengal as incessant rain lashed the sub-Himalayan region over the past 24 hours, displacing hundreds of people living on the banks.
Alerts have been issued on five rivers and vast areas, including tea plantation, are under water in the Dooars. In Siliguri, a youth was washed away by the swollen Mahananda.
The India Meteorological Department said north Bengal would continue to experience heavy rain in the next few days and there would be further rise in the water levels of rivers. The average rainfall a day in north Bengal during the monsoon is 50mm, but many places have received more than 150mm of rain in the past 24 hours (see chart).
Haranul Mian, a 24-year-old resident of Vivekanandanagar in Siliguri, was taking bath in the Mahananda when he was washed away this morning. Bhaktinagar police said his body had been later found downstream.
Places like Sukantapally, Saradapally and Vivekanandapally on the right bank of the Teesta in Jalpaiguri town are inundated and people have shifted to safe places. The North Bengal Flood Control Commission has issued yellow (primary) alert in the unprotected areas on the left bank of the Teesta and the spot where NH31 cuts through the Jaldhaka river in Nagrakata block.
Red (secondary) alerts have been issued by the Alipurduar subdivisional administration on both sides of the Torsha, Kaljani, Raidak and the Pana rivers. Hundreds of people have left their homes as water levels of these rivers have substantially increased and submerged villages on their banks.
At least five villages were flooded by the Kaljani when a 350-metre stretch of the embankment on the right bank collapsed in Kalchini block. More than 200 families were taken to safer places with the huts being washed away by the river that flows from Bhutan.
“We have asked for adequate relief and compensation from the block administration for the affected people,” said Atul Subba, the panchayat samiti sabhapati of Kalchini. “The water level of the Kaljani is rising at regular intervals, leading to erosion and the inundation of new areas. If it rains tonight, the situation will worsen further. We are keeping our fingers crossed.”
The Kaljani is flowing close to the labour lines of Nimti Tea Estate. “In case the water level rises by a few metres, the river will inundate substantial portions of our garden. We have no clue as to what could be done,” said garden manager J.P. Sharma.
R.S. Sundas, the Kalchini block development officer, said the district administration had been intimated about the situation. “Many places were submerged by a number of rivers. However, as the rain stopped this morning, the water level receded and there is a slight improvement in the situation. But if it rains tonight, the water level will increase again. We are on alert.”
The Bala river is also flowing at a higher level in Kalchini, disconnecting the road communication with Jayanti.
In Banarhat, the Reti has entered Riabari Tea Estate and flooded labour lines and plantations. Many residents have been shifted to safer places in the garden.