Traffic back on landslide-hit road to Sikkim
Traffic to and from Sikkim along NH10 — the principal highway that connects the Himalayan state with the rest of the country — was restored on Thursday morning, a day after four landslides had occurred along the road between Sevoke and Teesta Bazaar.
NH10 also links the Kalimpong district of Bengal.
On Wednesday, heavy monsoon downpour had brought down debris from hillsides at three locations along the highway, while the road had caved in at Swetijhora, located around 35km from here.
“Excavators and workers were engaged on all the sites to clear the debris from the road. In Swetijhora, as a major portion of the road had fallen into the gorge, machines were used for back-cutting or cutting the mountainside to create space so that vehicles can move,” said a source in the Kalimpong district administration.
After the landslides, movement of heavy vehicles had stopped from Siliguri to Sikkim and Kalimpong, while light vehicles were advised to take turnaround routes. There was an apprehension among residents of the neighbouring state and those in Kalimpong over the halt in supply of essential commodities.
“In some places, vehicles are moving in a single flank at lower speed but at least, traffic could be restored. If the weather remains sunny and dry during the next few days, appropriate repairs would be taken up,” the source said.
On Thursday, though it did not rain much in the sub-Himalayan districts of Bengal, districts like North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur reported rainfall and also waterlogging at some locations.
While the downpour on Wednesday led to landslides along the highway, it also affected at least 30 houses at Panigolai, a locality near Soureni in the Mirik subdivision of Darjeeling district.
Ashwini Roy, the SDO of Mirik, along with the BDO and some other officials, reached the spot on Wednesday late evening and shifted the families to safer places while handing over relief materials to them.
“Around 11pm on Wednesday, we had to shift around 80 persons of 30 families from the Panigolai area. This is because their houses are standing precariously and mud and water are sliding in the area. There was no other choice but to relocate them for their safety,” said the SDO.
On Thursday, Anit Thapa, the chairperson of the BoA at the GTA and L.B. Rai, the civic chairman of Mirik, visited the affected area. Both spoke to the families and said they would be provided with necessary help in rebuilding their houses.
Met Office said the southwest monsoon was still hovering in the region.
“There is a chance of rain and thundershowers in most places of sub-Himalayan Bengal and Sikkim during the next two days,” said a weather expert.