|A house damaged by a tree which was uprooted during the storm at
Berubari in Jalpaiguri Sadar block.Picture by Biplab Basak
TT, Jalpaiguri, May 18: A storm cut a swathe through two blocks of Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts last night, damaging around 6,500 huts, destroying crops worth over Rs 9 crore and snapping power lines.
About 600 homes were inundated in Mainaguri and Malbazar blocks of Jalpaiguri district following a sudden discharge of water from the Teesta Barrage Project last night. The reservoir was opened as the Teesta had risen because of heavy rains in Sikkim.
A heavy rain accompanied by thunder wreaked havoc in Jalpaiguri Sadar block and adjoining Haldibari block in Cooch Behar district.
The storm that started around 9pm yesterday lasted for one hour.
“Around 4,000 huts have been damaged in North and South Berubari areas of Jalpaiguri Sadar block. The storm uprooted trees, snapping electric lines and blocking roads. There was also a major loss of crops like jute and vegetables which were ready for harvest. We apprehend that the total crop damage will be around Rs 1 crore,” said Sanjib Roy, a member of South Berubari panchayat.
Pramila Roy, a villager in South Berubari, has suffered injuries after a tree fell on her hut. She is under treatment at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri.
Some others have also suffered minor injuries.
In Haldibari, farmers bore the brunt of the storm as crops worth Rs 8 crore were destroyed.
“The storm has hit over 2,500 huts in the Uttar Haldibari and Dakshin Haldibari areas. Even the local hospital, BDO office and the police station have been damaged. The loss of properties is pegged at Rs 4.50 crore,” said Tapas Singha, the BDO of Haldibari.
Sumantra Mishra, an official of Cooch Behar district agricultural department posted in Haldibari, said the total loss of crops, mostly jute and vegetables, would be over Rs 8 crore.
Over 600 houses were marooned by the discharge of the Teesta water in the unprotected areas on the Left bank of the river in Mainaguri and Malbazar blocks.
“Around 600 huts went under water in Basusuba, Chaparpar, Domohoni, Champadanga and Burmanpara villages, forcing 1,000 people to move to safer places,” Subhash Bose, the sabhapati of Mainaguri panchayat samiti, said.
Teesta Barrage Project at Gazoldoba in Rajganj block of Jalpaiguri district started releasing water last night following heavy rain in Sikkim.
Last year, the residents of the same villages had faced floods, prompting the state irrigation department and the North Bengal Flood Control Commission (NBFCC) to plan construction of an embankment and other protection measures.
“Rs 12 crore was sanctioned for the construction of an embankment and to take other flood protection measures. The state irrigation minister had laid foundation of the project last year. By the time the funds reached us, Assembly polls had been declared and the model code of conduct had come to force. We had to apply to the Election Commission for permission to start the work. We got the nod, but before the project could be started, the rains had begun,” Subhankar Chakraborty, the superintending engineer of the NBFCC, said.