Incessant rains followed by landslides leading to closure of several roads and the toy train in Darjeeling have left many tourists who went to the region during Durga Puja vacation stranded.

The situation in Darjeeling is worse because the National Highway 55 that connects Darjeeling with Siliguri has been blocked due to a landslide. While traffic movement has been suspended on this highway, small cars are allowed to ply on the alternative Rohini Road.

There have been several landslides in Dhotre, Manevanjan, Rimbik, Gok and Bijanbari areas, while the bridge over Balasan river connecting Siliguri with Matigara, Bagdogra, Naxalbari and Khoribari has been closed after cracks were detected on it.

Toy train services have been suspended after the collapse of the Batasia Loop on the Hill Cart road in Darjeeling. Landslide repair work is going on on a war footing.

Darjeeling District Magistrate S. Punnambalam said, “Many small landslides have occurred. A few houses have been damaged.”

The situation in Jalpaiguri has also deteriorated after the increase of water-level in Teesta river because of incessant rains. Many families have been rendered homeless.

The Vivekananda and Sarada rural areas adjacent to Jalpaiguri are submerged. The village of Sukant Nagar on the banks of Teesta has also been flooded.

The administration has issued a red alert for the protected areas of the Teesta river due to rising water levels. The administration claimed that it has rescued 350 marooned people so far.

According to the met department, the rain is likely to continue in North Bengal for another couple of days. Apart from Darjeeling, heavy to very heavy rainfall is predicted in Alipurduar and North and South Dinajpur districts in the next 24 hours. The rain is likely to decrease from Thursday onwards.

“Many people go trekking during the puja holidays. However, due to the bad weather, trekking has been cancelled in the area for the time being. The trek route to Rimbik and Sandakan has been closed due to landslides. The road connecting Tagda-Tinchuley and Kalijhora-Rangpo has also been closed,” a senior district official said.

Many tourists have been stranded in Darjeeling, Siliguri and Jalpaiguri because of suspension of traffic movement. The North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) has decided to run additional buses for the safe transportation of the tourists.

NBSTC Chairman Partha Pratim Roy said, “Many people have been stranded because of the rain and bad weather conditions. NBSTC will run additional buses to ferry the tourists.”

–IANS

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