| Officials and villagers on the bank of the Balason on Thursday. A Telegraph picture
Siliguri, July 19: The Balason river, fed by heavy rain since last night, is eating into its embankments in the Kawakhali area, raising fears of flood.
About 1,000 villagers of Bidhanpally, Kawakhali and Porajhar, 6km from here, stayed awake throughout the night, constantly dipping bamboo poles in the river to measure the rise in water levels.
Officials, including Matigara block development officer Sushanta Mondal, rushed to the spot last night and watched the Balason wash away boulders from the spurs of the embankment.
Mondal said heavy rain since yesterday had reduced the distance between the river and the villages by 10 feet. “Around 250 families in the area are under threat,” he said. “I was at the village till this morning and arranged police posting in the area to monitor the situation. No water logging has been reported till now.”
Mani Thapa, the sabhadhipati of the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad, and P.T. Sherpa, the subdivisional officer of Siliguri, visited the area this morning. “I have directed officials of the irrigation department to take necessary measures to avoid any untoward incident,” said Thapa.
Irrigation department officials said repair work would begin immediately.
It rained heavily in the plains and catchment areas of the Teesta last night.
The highest rainfall was recorded at Sevoke (111.6mm), followed by Gajaldoba (110.2mm), Neora (97.4mm), Hasimara (93.2mm), Mathabhanga (89.8mm), Champasari (Siliguri 85.4mm), Jalpaiguri (36mm) Gangtok (29.6mm) and Darjeeling (17mm) till 8.30am today.
“Heavy to very heavy rainfall is predicted in sub-Himalayan north Bengal and Sikkim in the next 24 hours,” said an official of the regional Met office in Jalpaiguri.
The rise in water level of the Teesta has prompted the Central Water Commission to issue a yellow alert on the river from Mekhliganj in Cooch Behar to the Bangladesh border.
Officials of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation said restoration work at the site of the Teesta Low Dam Project-IV at Kalijhora was still on. “But we need to wait for some more days to allow the water to recede before we can retrieve the machinery that was swept away on Tuesday,” an official said.
A senior railway official said trains on the Siliguri Junction-Katihar metre-gauge tracks were suspended today.