Gorkhatimes

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Debris hamper highway traffic

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 4, 2009

An embankment along the Teesta that was damaged by Cyclone Aila faced the assault of the torrent while the repair was going on at Teesta Bazar.

An embankment along the Teesta that was damaged by Cyclone Aila faced the assault of the torrent while the repair was going on at Teesta Bazar.

Siliguri, July 3: Fresh landslides blocked NH31 and NH31A at Sevoke today, disrupting traffic from Siliguri to Sikkim and the Dooars for more than 10 hours.

There were seven slides —five on a 3km-stretch of NH31 from Sevoke police outpost to Coronation Bridge and two on NH31A — triggered by incessant rain at three this morning. SNT Jhora and Pagla Jhora are the two spots where the slides occurred on NH31A.

The traffic on both the roads was restored partially at 1pm and completely at 5pm.

Sevoke — which is around 30km from here — is the place where NH31 is split into two, with one (NH31A) going to Sikkim and the other to Assam through the Dooars.

The highways were cleared of rubble by workers of the PWD’s NH Circle III and the Border Roads Organisation.

“Our workers started the operation at 8am and it took them five hours to allow small vehicles to pass,” said Dhurba Chakraborty, the superintendent engineer of Circle III.

The labourers engaged excavators to remove mud and boulders from the roads.

Following the slides, a large number of vehicles were stranded on the two roads. According to officials of Sikkim’s East district, heavy vehicles carrying foodgrain and essential supplies like petrol and diesel to the state had been stuck at Sevoke. They said some tourists had taken alternative routes via Darjeeling and Kalimpong to reach Siliguri, while others had extended their stay.

Several passengers, including tourists, crossed the affected spots by foot.

“I am going to Nepal and started from Gangtok for Siliguri early this morning. When I found that there was hardly any possibility to reach Siliguri on time if I waited for the road to be cleared, I decided to walk from a slide spot up Coronation Bridge. I walked for almost 10km and reached Sevoke Bazar to get into another vehicle,” said Deepak Balani, a resident of Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh.

Prankrishna Das, the officer-in-charge of the Sevoke police outpost, said the roads were reopened for all vehicles at 5pm.

Sevoke had been hit by landslides on Wednesday also, blocking NH31 for more than 30 hours.

The Regional Meteorological Office at Jalpaiguri said Sevoke had recorded 332.4mm rainfall in the past 24 hours. Siliguri received 126mm rain, Kalimpong 114.2mm and Hasimara 106.4mm.

An official of the Met office said heavy to very heavy rainfall was likely to occur in the catchment areas of different rivers in north Bengal in the next 24 hours.

The PWD official apprehend that if the rain continues unabated, there will be recurrence of slides at different places near Sevoke.

DHR hit

The Darjeeling Himalayn Railway (DHR) track between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling was damaged by the heavy rain that also brought down stones and sand on NH55.

A media release issued by S. Hajong, the chief public relations officer of Northeast Frontier Railway at Maligaon, said heavy landslide had occurred between Mahanadi and Gayabari railway station.

“About 20 metres of the track were hanging completely and 17 metres partially because of the mishap. So, the trains will remain cancelled till the completion of the restoration work,” said the release.

Source: The Telegraph

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