Rain-fed rivers burst banks, claim swathes

Incessant monsoon downpour has led to a rise in the water levels of rivers and streams in north Bengal, one of which devoured an entire school in Cooch Behar.

By OUR BUREAU in Siliguri
  • Published 12.09.18
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The remaining part of the primary school that was washed away in Dinhata. Picture by Main Uddin Chisti

Siliguri: Incessant monsoon downpour has led to a rise in the water levels of rivers and streams in north Bengal, one of which devoured an entire school in Cooch Behar.

Sources said the Panchodhwaji Primary School, located in Panchodhwaji village under Okrabari panchayat of Dinhata sub-division, was vulnerable situation as the Singimari river had eroded its banks and come close to the school.

"Even on Monday, the school building was there but on Tuesday morning, we could no longer find it, except some wreckage. As the school building is no longer there, we don't know how to conduct classes," said Bidhan Chandra Sauth, the headmaster. The institute has 198 students.

He also mentioned that for past couple of years, the Singimari river had been moving closer to the building. They had intimated the administration but no steps to check erosion was taken up.

After the school, the river is now flowing closer to a flood shelter that is next to the school building.

"Around 20 houses of the village have been gobbled by the river and now the school building has also gone into the river. The administration should intervene immediately to prevent further ," said Jahir Ali, a resident, who has lost his hutment and is now staying at a relative's place.

Officials said the school would be run from a house in the village on a temporary basis. "Later, we will build a new school building," said Kalyani Poddar, the chairperson of the District Primary School Council.

In Malda, the Ganga, swollen by the rain is constantly claiming chunks of land in the Kaliachak-III and Ratua-I blocks.

"Other rivers like Mahananda and Fulahar have also swollen and there is an apprehension of erosion and floods in some areas of the district," said a source at the state irrigation department.

Sources said at Parlalpur in Kaliachak-III block, the department had taken up a project to check erosion over a stretch of one kilometre. A major portion of the work has been damaged by the Ganga.

In Mongpong, around 30km from Siliguri, a landslide on Sunday late night blocked NH-31C. Repair and restoration works have started at the site but the road that leads to Dooars, is still blocked. Those headed to and coming back from Dooars are having to take a longer route through through Gazoldoba and Jalpaiguri.

Met office sources said it rained less in past 24 hours, which is why water has receded from most areas.

In North Dinajpur, residents of Tungidighi resorted blocked NH-34 against poor roads and waterlogging.