Jalpaiguri, Sept. 12: Members of around 200 families blocked the NH31 at Oodlabari for four hours today after heavy rains washed away a part of an embankment along the Ghis river and inundated their homes.
The blockade that started around 7am was lifted after the district authorities assured the protesters that the 200-metre breach would be repaired once the water receded. Around 500 vehicles were stranded because of the protest.
The Ghis river originates from the Bhutan hills.
Irrigation department sources said Mal subdivision in Jalpaiguri received 219mm rainfall from 8pm yesterday to 8am today. Oodlabari, 65km from here, is in Mal.
The 800-metre embankment passes through Mal and Gorubathan in Kalimpong.
Around 5am, water from the Ghis rushed into Majumdar Colony, Nayabusti, Manabari and Washabari in Mal.
Executive engineer of the district irrigation department, Asim Chowdhury, said: “The current is very strong. It is flowing rapidly because of heavy rainfall in the Bhutan hills. We cannot take up repairs till the water recedes.”
The block development officer of Mal, B. Kashari, said about 50 families had shifted to Washabari tea estate and 100 other families had taken shelter near the Oodlabari gram panchayat office. “We have distributed plastic sheets, molasses, flattened rice, drinking water and baby food among the people,” he said.