Workers carry boulders on boats to construct an embankment along the Fulhar in Malda on Tuesday. Picture by Surajit Roy
Jaigaon/Siliguri, July 13: An assistant manager of a Dooars tea estate died last night after he was swept away by a flash flood that surged down a rivulet flowing through the garden even as the weather office forecast that the heavy rainfall in the sub-Himalayan region would continue.
Debasish Mondal, 29, a trainee assistant manager of Chengmari Tea Estate in Nagrakata, Jalpaiguri district, was carried away by the turbulent waters caused by the flash flood while he was riding to his bungalow from office on a motorcycle.
“Yesterday was the date of payment. He (Debasish) disbursed the salaries among the workers till about 6.30pm and then headed for his bungalow. He must have gone barely 500 metres from the office and found the swelling Kothijhora, one of the rivulets flowing through our garden and might have tried to cross it,” said garden manager D.S. Parmer.
“The water level had risen abnormally because of rain in the Bhutan hills.
At that time, water was around 2-3ft high over the culvert. He seems to have somehow lost control and was swept away along with his motorcycle.”
As the news that Mondal might have been washed away spread, local people and workers launched a search to find him. Finally, police said, the body was found about 500 metres downstream, with the motorcycle lying nearby.
Representatives of the Tea Association of India, of which Chengmari is a member garden, described the incident as unfortunate. Debasish was a resident of Purbasthali in Burdwan district. One of his brothers, Jagannath Mondal, is the manager of Malnadi Tea Estate.
With the rainfall continuing in the sub-Himalayan region, officials at the North Bengal Flood Control Commission (NBFCC) confirmed the rise in water levels of the rivers. “We are keeping a watch on the situation and have already issued primary alerts in the unprotected areas on the left bank of the Teesta and in the Jaldhaka near NH31,” said an official on duty at the control room of the NBFCC.
Meteorologists at the Regional Met Office in Jalpaiguri said the rains are here to stay for quite a few days.
“The monsoon is good this year with substantial and even excessive rainfall in the sub-Himalayan foothills. This is mainly because of the prevalence of the monsoon trough that is a low pressure zone with heavy moisture and active air circulation over the area. Foothill regions like Siliguri and Terai plains and Jalpaiguri district will experience heavy rainfall this month,” said G.N. Raha of the Jalpaiguri Met Office today.
According to Raha, in June, the rainfall recorded in Jalpaiguri exceeded the average normal shower by around 30cm, which is very high .
“In Siliguri, the rainfall however, was around 10 per cent less than the average but even then, it was sufficient. This month, both the places recorded high rainfall with 56cm in Siliguri and 36cm in Jalpaiguri. Heavy and continuous rainfall will be experienced throughout this month at these places as the moisture trough will prevail. As for the next 48 hours there will be heavy to very heavy rainfall in these areas,” Raha said.
Among other places, while Gangtok has received normal rainfall of 62cm in June and 20cm in July (average normal rainfall is 68 cm for June and 71 cm for July), figures of Darjeeling are not so good. It is 28cm in June and 36cm in July (average normal rainfall is 49cm for June and 75cm for July).
“Gangtok has recorded normal rainfall but figures suggest that Darjeeling has not received very high rainfall. This is because the monsoon trough is not prevalent in the hilly area,” Raha said.