Torrential rains hit the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim and the tea-growing region of North Bengal, causing landslides that cut National Highway 10, the main road connecting Gangtok to the rest of the country.
Normal life almost came to a halt as downpours triggered landslides causing damage to roads and bridges, stopping or limiting traffic to various places in the North Bengal hill districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, while the low lying areas of the Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts were flooded. officials said Wednesday.
Hundreds of tourists, who have invaded the hills during the Durga Puja season, find it difficult to get to their next destination or to reach Bagdogra train stations or airport on their way home, due to the incessant rains and storms. landslides.
The Met Department has issued a “red” warning for Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Alipurduar, forecasting extremely heavy rains in one or two places in those districts until Thursday morning.
Road connectivity to several locations in Kalimpong District, connecting Kalimpong Town and hamlets like Pedong and Lava – two popular tourist destinations – and Algara, has been cut off due to landslides.
Wednesday’s relentless downpour saw landslides blocking the crucial National-10 Highway, connecting Siliguri to Gangtok, in the 29th Mile region of West Bengal, about 60 km from the Rangpo border in the Himalayan state.
Another landslide occurred at Pani House in Gangtok this morning, disrupting vehicle traffic, officials said.
Darjeeling District Magistrate S Ponnambalam said major thoroughfares in the district were open, although some of the inland roads were affected by landslides.
Attempts are underway to remove debris from the road in order to reopen it to traffic as soon as possible, he said.
The supporting pillars of a steel bridge in Rangpo, the gateway to Sikkim, were also damaged as the Teesta River, which has risen in recent days, swept over embankments in many places.
Local police have started restricting vehicle traffic on the bridge. Large numbers of people were taken to safe places and relief supplies were dispatched to the affected areas.
Water from National Highway 10 submerged from Teesta in the Teesta Bazar area, restricting vehicle traffic.
A key road bridge over the Balason River in Matigara near Siliguri suffered “subsidence” due to heavy rains, an official said.
He said vehicle traffic will only resume after safety testing of the bridge.
Siliguri Police Commissioner Gaurav Sharma said traffic, except for two-wheelers, was diverted to another road via the Naukaghat Bridge due to the damage.
A political blame game began amid this situation, with BJP MP Anandamoy Barman accusing the Congressional government of Trinamool of failing to maintain it and failing to cooperate in the implementation of a central government plan. for the four-lane road on which the bridge is located.
Siliguri Municipal Corporation board chairman Gautam Deb rejected the request, saying the health of all road bridges is checked regularly.
Several low-lying areas in Malbazar, Moynaguri and Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri district have been inundated due to rising levels of the Teesta and Jaldhaka rivers.
Residents of many of these areas have been moved to flood shelters, an official from Jalpaiguri district said.
As the downpour continued, 3,800 cusecs of waste were released from the Gajaoldoba Teesta dam in Bengal, causing flooding in several parts of the lower town of Jalpaiguri.
Gajaldoba in Jalpaiguri received the highest rainfall in the state in 24 hours until 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday with rainfall of 340 mm, the Met department said.
Darjeeling received 233.8 mm, Kalimpong 199 mm of rain, Siliguri 195.6 mm, Jalpaiguri 151 mm and Cooch Behar 60.9 mm during the same period.
The Met Department has warned that bad weather will continue in the sub-Himalayan districts until Thursday morning.
Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar are likely to receive heavy to very heavy rains, he said.
The weather in districts of southern Bengal, hit by heavy rains since Sunday due to a low pressure system, improved significantly on Wednesday, although the sky remained overcast.
The Met Department predicted thunderstorms with lightning in one or two places in those neighborhoods on Wednesday.
Dry weather will prevail in the southern part of the state from Thursday, he said.
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