At least three persons were killed as heavy rains wreaked havoc in several areas in the Hills and Plains of north Bengal early today.
Two persons, including the driver, were killed when a van fell into the Juranti river at Bagrakote in the Dooars this morning. The bridge over the river Juranti collapsed, owing to the heavy rains, as a bananaladen van, coming from Goalpara in Assam, crossed it, sources said.
The critically injured driver, Raju Sheikh, 40, and his assistant, Debraj Saha, 35, were taken to the hospital at Oodlabai nearby where doctors declared them dead.
The Dooars region was cut off following the bridge collapse, while another railway bridge over the Lees river was also damaged. The Dooars region has been receiving heavy rainfall since the past one week, damaging property like roads and tea gardens.
Floodwaters from rivers and tributaries like the Dudlong, Boon, Hulia, Chumta, Chenga and Khemchi have hit tea plantation areas. Water from the Panighatta forest areas gushed into small rivers in the Siliguri areas and eroded their banks along the tea plantations, it is learnt.
The Secretary of the Terai Branch of the Indian Tea Association, Rana Dey, has requested the Darjeeling district magistrate for urgent protective measures. According to Mr Dey, many tea gardens, including Fulbari, Kamalpur, New Chamta, Satis Chandra, Ord Terai, and Merry View have been affected by the erosion.
On the other hand, the Terai Indian Planters’ Association today informed the Siliguri Sub Divisional Officer of soil erosion at the Putinbari Tea Estate where a hanging bridge over the Rakti river has been washed away. The heavy rains further damaged several areas, especially the Matigara and Naxalbari blocks in the Siliguri Sub-Division. Bridges, roads, houses were among the worst affected.
“Property worth several crores or rupees has been damaged by the rains,” Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad Sabhadhipati, Tapas Sarkar, said. Sliguri SDO Sumant Sahay said there were reports of damage of property in blocks under the sub-division.
“We are assessing the nature of damage,” he said. Around 2,500 people in the Matigara block have been affected. Five gram panchayats–Champasari, Atharokhai, Patharghata, Matigara-I and Matigara-II have been affected, inlcuding 12 villages under the block.
Meanwhile, the Mahananda river in Siliguri had crossed the extreme danger level (116.590 meters) at 2.30 am when it reached the 116.900- meter mark, prompting the irrigation department to sound a red alert.
However, the water in the river later receded, officials of the irrigation and waterways department said. Siliguri received 108.20 mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours. A portion of the bridge at Paticolony under Ward 47 in Siliguri, the approach of a bridge on the Panchanai river, has been damaged at Dagapur.
A bridge at Fulbari earlier had been identified as vulnerable and weak damaged. The embankment at Mechijhora, Champasari and Uttar Palash under Matigara have been damaged. Around 100 houses have been damaged in the Naxalbari Block, and several areas there remained waterlogged, while four-five bridges have also been damaged. Traders at Bagdogra were affected after waters entered their shops this morning.
“The water started entering the areas after the lock gate of the Teesta barrage was opened at 3 am,” Mr Sarkar said.
In the Hills, some local people of Barbung busty in Kurseong found a dead body in the Guhey Barbung Khola this morning. The deceased has been identified as Pasang Sherpa, a porter and resident of Sherpa Busty in Kurseong. It is learnt that he missing from his home since Saturday.
“As he used to drink, he may have been washed away by the Barbung Khola during heavy rainfall,” a local said.
The heavy rainfall since last night also triggered landslides in many areas in the hills, mainly in the Mirik sub-division with roads blocked and some houses partially damaged. In Mirik proper, some parts of the Blue Lagoon hotel, along with some houses around it near Krishnanagar along the lake, were inundated last night.
Locals there said the flood was caused by a small rivulet that flows from Deosey Dara to the Sumendhu Lake in the town. Also under the Mirik subdivision, the kitchen of the house of one Kalu Mangar was swept by the Manja Khola near Belagachi Dhulia at Chyanga Panighatta GP in the plains. Two houses were also damaged at Chotta Tingling in the hills in Mirik due to landslides, while the road connecting Chotta Tingling with Khaprail in Siliguri and the state highway connecting Mirik to Siliguri were also blocked.
Landslides also hit the Pankhabari road between Garidhura in the plains and Kurseong.
In Tindharia, a major portion of the house of one Raju Gajmer was damaged in a landslide, which also left two persons there injured, sources said. Chairman of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Anit Thapa visited the landslide-affected areas in Pankhabari-Longview and assured all possible help from the GTA.