PWD restores connectivity along NH31C within 24 hours
The NH division of the state public works department managed to restore connectivity between Siliguri and the Dooars along NH31C on Wednesday within 24 hours.
The stretch on the highway that had caved in on the approach road of Zurantikhola bridge in Malbazar subdivision of Jalpaiguri was temporarily repaired to get traffic moving again.
However, the damaged stretch of the Dooars rail tracks — the raging Leesh river had swept away the earth from under the bridge near Malbazar — is yet to be restored.
PWD officials said these were temporary repairs. “We could resume traffic but after monsoon, permanent repair work would be done. Some part of the bridge over Zurantikhola that has been affected will also be repaired,” said an executive engineer of the PWD in Malbazar.
Residents are happy with the speed of the repairs.
“For the past 24 hours, people had to take a 40 to 50km detour to reach the Dooars. It is good the state PWD could fill the crater (in the highway) and now traffic has resumed via Sevoke,” said Malbazar resident Rajen Pradhan.
Officials of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) said it would take them more time to repair the damaged tracks.
“We have to carry out repairs right from the riverbed. Because of the monsoon, water level is often rising in Leesh river. Also, the (surrounding) earth is extremely soft. We are waiting for the water level to recede,” said an official of NFR’s Alipurduar division.
A railway source said only a few passenger trains run these days amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and those that are, take the main route (New Jalpaiguri-Dhupguri-New Cooch Behar).
“If trains ran like normal, it would have been a problem as a number of local and long-distance passenger trains run via the Dooars route. These days, only some goods trains are routed through the Dooars route. For now, those can be diverted via the main route.”
In sub-Himalayan Bengal, it rained less from Tuesday late morning to Wednesday afternoon, which helped authorities repair the cave-in damage and clear the landslide debris that had blocked many hill roads.
However, heavy rain started again from Wednesday afternoon. Sources at the Regional Met Office in Calcutta said the downpour was likely to continue in the sub-Himalayan areas of north Bengal and Sikkim during next couple of days.
“There might be heavy to very heavy rainfall (70mm to 200mm) in some places of Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts and heavy rainfall (70mm to 110mm) in Sikkim and in the districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong, North and South Dinajpur,” said a weatherman.