TT, Jalpaiguri, 1 May: A hailstorm hit four blocks of Jalpaiguri and adjoining areas of Alipurduar on Saturday night, causing widespread damage to tea gardens and houses. Power lines snapped in the storm.
Picture shows a house whose tin roof was blown away near Sulkapara tea estate in Nagrakata block, about 60km from Jalpaiguri town.
The affected blocks, according to sources in the tea industry and the district administration, are Mal, Meteli, Nagrakata and Banarhat.
Sumantra Guha Thakurta, the secretary of the Dooars Branch Indian Tea Association (DBITA), said over 16 member-gardens had been affected.
“With most managers on leave because of the May Day break, it is not possible for us to make an immediate estimate of the damage caused. According to the reports I have received, newly sprouted tea leaves have been damaged over thousands of hectares in the area. A large number of shade trees have been uprooted along with tea bushes. The workers’ residences have been badly damaged and most gardens are without power. There were, however, no reports of any casualty,” Guha Thakurta said.
Amtritansu Chakrabarty, the chief adviser to the Indian Tea Planters Association (ITPA), said: “The hailstorm has come as a major blow to the planters in the areas affected. There were rains with strong winds during the end of April. That was good for the tea bushes that are ready for the second flush of leaves. But Saturday’s storm has damaged the newly sprouted leaves.”