DISASTER WATCH: Hill stream swerves, floods Dooars park – Town spared as water breaches bank and gurgles into garden – rain, rain go away ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Aug. 23: A hilly stream flowing along Jalpaiguri’s Malbazar changed course last night and entered a park, moments before foresters shifted the peacocks from an enclosure there.
Heavy rainfall in the hills had fed Shankhinijhora with water, which first inundated the park and then went on to Raja Tea Estate, sparing the Dooars town.
“Around 3.30am, we heard a gurgling sound and saw water from the stream entering the park. Within minutes, the entire park went under water. Just before that, we had shifted the peacocks,” said Prabir Roy, the beat officer of the state forest department which is in charge of the park, 50km from Siliguri. “The stream, after inundating the park, however, continued to head towards the adjacent Raja tea garden, saving Malbazar from inundation. Though it is still raining, water has started receding from the park.”
The rainfall, which was recorded the highest at Neora near Malbazar in the plains , led to the inundation of 30-35 houses at Paschim Tesimla on the outskirts of the town. “The Kumlai river flowing through the area changed its course too and flooded Pashchim Tesimla. Many families have left their homes while some are still trying to salvage some of their belongings before leaving. We have intimated the administration and have asked for relief,” said Amirul Haque, a member of the Malbazar Panchayat Samiti. “There has been a breach in the embankment which needs to be repaired to prevent further inundation or flash floods.”
The rain occurred mostly in the catchment areas of the Teesta, Siliguri and some parts of western Dooars. The North Bengal Flood Control Commission has issued secondary (red) alerts for the unprotected areas on both the banks of the Teesta— from Jalpaiguri till the Bangladesh border. Primary alerts have been sounded on both the banks of the Jaldhaka where it passes under NH31 near Nagrakata.
Low-lying areas on the banks of the Teesta in Jalpaiguri are as usual under water with around 300 families moving to safer places.
Met Office sources said there was no indication of a halt in rainfall, at least in the next 48 hours. “The southwest monsoon is hovering over the region, which will cause heavy to very heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours,” a Met official said.
According to the Met Office, during the past two and half months, that is from June 1 to August 20, there has been excess rainfall of 31 per cent and 29 per cent in the districts of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. The rain was average in Cooch Behar while it was 25 per cent and 21 per cent less in Malda and South Dinajpur respectively during this period.
The rain, however, did not cause any landslide or landslip in any of the two highways, NH31 and NH31A. Hill Cart Road or NH55 however, continued to remain closed because of rain that has affected repair. It, however, worsened the condition of NH31 and NH31D in the plains, causing traffic congestion that stretched several kilometres.