|Rescue volunteers pull a raft carrying patients, who are under treatment at the primary health centre in Jalapiguri’s Banarhat, to safer places as the health centre was partially submerged on Sunday. Banarhat got 291mm of rain between 8am on Saturday and the same time on Sunday. A portion of an embankment along the Hatinala, a stream flowing close to Banarhat and originating from Bhutan hills, got damaged and water entered different localities of Banarhat which is in Dhupguri block and around 50km from Jalpaiguri town. The health staff posted at the centre were also rescued. Many residents of Banarhat, sources said, have taken shelter beside the Dooars rail tracks. Picture by Biplab Basak|
TT, July 24: Siliguri got 337mm of rain since 8am on Saturday and though water started to recede on Sunday the forecast of heavy to very heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours loomed.
In nearby Gazoldoba, the rainfall recorded between 8am Saturday and 8am Sunday was 330mm.
While district authorities till late tonight had not spoken about whether schools would open tomorrow, the Met office said heavy to very heavy rain (70mm-200mm) was expected in the next 48 hours in Darjeeling, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and the rest of sub-Himalayan Bengal.
While most of the waterlogging in Siliguri last night and this morning was because of rain water, in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts, swelling rivers overflowed their banks and inundated several towns and tea estates.
According to sources in the tea industry, around 30 estates are under water in the Terai and Dooars.
Such sudden inundation of plantations and roads that connect these tea estates has led to halt in plucking and processing of tealeaves.
In Alipurduar district, tea estates such as Kalchini and Patkapara have been badly affected. In Kalchini, water has entered around 300 workers’ quarters. In Patkapara, stretches of the plantation are under water.
In Malangi area of Jaigaon, also in Alipurduar district, over 200 families have moved to higher areas for safety.
|Ward 46 in the Siliguri municipal area waterlogged on Sunday morning. Picture by Kundan Yolmo|
Tea garden representatives are apprehensive of huge losses because of the flooding.
Sanjoy Pramanik, the manager of Patkapara, said: “We are supposed to get around 30,000kg of tealeaves but in these days, we are getting around 6,000kg per day. Several stretches of plantations are under water. Even after the water recedes, we will have to wait for another 20 days to get new leaves. Also, the labour quarters have been flooded and we are apprehensive that there might be an outbreak of water-borne diseases.”
In Tasati tea estate in Alipurduar the management is in a fix. “We have around 1 lakh kg tea ready in the factory for dispatch but because of non-availability of vehicles, we cannot send it to warehouses. Even if we get a vehicle, it is a tough situation because during transportation, if any tea package gets wet, it will fetch lower prices.”
In Jalpaiguri district too, several gardens are facing similar problems of water logging.
Among the gardens is the Banarhat Tea Estate where about 100 hectares of plantation area and all roads in the garden are under water. Around 8,000 people have been affected.
Similar is the situation in Telepara. In Lakhipara garden, water has flooded the factory and a labour line.
“Work had to be stopped today in Choonabhutti tea estate as water entered in two labour lines where around 2,000 people reside. An embankment of a local stream has breached in Katalguri tea estate and has inundated a labour line. The Neora river has eroded around an acre of land in Baradighi tea estate. Similarly, one acre has been eaten into by the Leesh river at the Leesh river tea estate,” a source at the Dooars Branch of Indian Tea Association (DBITA) said. “The entire Dalmore tea estate is under water.”
“A disastrous situation is prevailing in the tea belt which would lead to loss of crores of rupees. We will soon sit with the district administration to discuss how such floods can be mitigated,” S. Guha Thakurta, the DBITA secretary said.
Although it rained less in Jalpaiguri town yesterday as compared to Siliguri, heavy rainfall in the Dooars and in adjoining Bhutan hills led to the flooding of rivers.
The worst affected was Banarhat, located around 50km from Jalpaiguri town, which got inundated as an embankment of the Hatinala, a stream, was breached near Rheabari Tea Estate.
In Siliguri, a youth drowned in the Mahananda today.