Jaigaon, March 20: The rivers of Bhutan, which flow through Jalpaiguri district, are increasingly eating into the tea gardens on their banks in the Dooars, sounding an alarm bell in the ailing industry.
RSP MP from Alipurduar Joakim Bakhla said the situation was so desperate for the tea industry that he met Union water resources minister Arjun Charan Sethi in Delhi on March 9, urging him to find a solution. “The minister assured me that he would ask the external affairs ministry to take it up with the Bhutanese authorities.”
A large number of rivers course through the region, including the Teesta, Torsa, Raidhak, Sankosh, Basra, Dima, Chel, Daina, Pagli, Reti and Pana. Several of them originate in neighbouring Bhutan.
Experts said flooding and erosion by these rivers have hit the tea gardens hard. “If Bhutanese authorities do not take measures to contain the flood and erosion, most tea gardens in the northern parts of the district will be wiped out in 50 years or so,” Subir Sarkar, professor of geography at North Bengal University, said.
Sarkar has long been working on control of floods that routinely devastate the region in monsoon.