NATURAL DISASTER: Swollen Teesta triggers alert – to get much worse if hill rains continue like in 1968 ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Aug. 18: An alert has been sounded in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts following the rise in the water level of the Teesta after heavy rain lashed the region for 24 hours. In Siliguri, panic struck after earth from the base of the last pillar of the Mahananda Bridge was washed away.
About 200 affected families have taken shelter on the embankment of the Teesta after water inundated Saradapally, Vivekanandapally and Sukantapally on the right bank of the river in Jalpaiguri town.
Following the landslip near the bridge in Siliguri that connects both ends of the town near Airview More, the foundation of the concrete pillar, usually covered with earth and the cemented stairs leading to the embankment stood exposed. The mark left by the receding water on the pillar bears testimony to the fact that the river had spilled over into its banks last night.
The earth below a portion of the temple — just where the bridge ends and the road starts — had also been washed away.
Gangotri Datta, the mayor of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, visited the spot today. “A bulldozer has been engaged on an emergency basis to cover the area with soil to prevent further erosion and to save the temple. Stones put inside wired cages have been placed to prevent the river from hitting the pillar and further eroding the base,” she said.
According to India Meteorological Department, Siliguri recorded 118.8mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours. The rainfall caused by a vigorous southwest monsoon since yesterday evening is likely to continue for at least another 24 hours.
“Rain or thundershower will occur at most places in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts of Sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim and at many places in Malda, North and South Dinajpurs in next 24 hours,” IMD sources said.
The rainfall, which was above 100mm in several places (see chart), particularly in the catchment areas of the Teesta, has increased the water levels in most rivers, prompting the North Bengal Flood Control Commission to sound a secondary (red) alert for the unprotected areas on both banks of the Teesta. The area under alert stretches from Domohoni on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri to Bangladesh border at Mekhliganj in Cooch Behar district.
Primary (yellow) alert has also been sounded for the protected areas on both the banks, NBFCC sources said.
The repair on NH55 and NH31, two key highways in north Bengal, also got affected because of the rain.
“We are finding it extremely tough to carry out the repair on NH55 and have to stop the work as debris are coming down continuously from Paglajhora and nearby areas because of the rain,” said Dhruba Chakraborty, the superintending engineer of the state PWD (NH Division IX). “On NH31, through which small vehicles are moving towards the Dooars, we have temporarily stopped all work, also because of the rainfall.”