Kalimpong district in west Bengal and the Himalayan state of Sikkim today remained cut-off from the rest of the country as incessant rainfall triggered landslides and blocked National Highway-10, considered the lifeline of these two places.
Vehicles headed for these two places from the plains in Siliguri and vice-versa were forced to take long detours. Meanwhile, officials today said that there were three passengers and the driver in the Innova car that plunged into the raging Teesta river near Coronation Bridge at Sevoke on NH-10 yesterday.
Earlier reports had said there were three persons in the car. Rescuers searched for the car and the missing persons today too, but in vain, it is learnt. Traffic also came to a halt on NH-31 that connects Siliguri with the Dooars.
“We are not sure if the traffic movement would be possible at the moment. Work to clear the debris will take time because of the continuous downpour in those landslide areas. However, on the other hand, traffic cannot be halted for too long, given the importance of the highway,” said an official.
A major landslide has fallen on NH-10 at a place called Setijhora, while on NH-31, the landslide has blocked the road in between Sevoke and Mungpong, it is learnt. Darjeeling district magistrate Deepap Priya P said the continuous rainfall had been hampering repair work.
“There are two-three spots along NH-10 and NH-31 where landslides have occurred. Highway officials have reached the spot and the clearing process has started,” she said.
Meanwhile, Kalimpong district has been experiencing heavy rainfall for the past five days. The rains have triggered landslides in and around Kalimpong town, which have blocked roads and destroyed houses.
“What is unusual about this is that over the last few months, we had a severe water shortage, both household and irrigation. We were almost 56 percent deficient in rainfall up to 2 July. Then suddenly, from the 6th, we started experiencing heavy rainfall, and in the past five days, we have received 63 per cent of the rainfall we normally receive in July,” said Prafulla Rao, the founder of an NGO in the town that works on disaster management. National Highway-31 that separates from NH-10 near Sevoke has also witnessed at least three major landslides already, inconveniencing travellers.