Fresh landslide blow to road repair

Siliguri, Aug. 29: The restoration of NH 31A received a setback after a fresh landslide struck Hatisuray, 26km from here, last night.

The road — the main link that connects the rest of Bengal to Kalimpong and Sikkim — has been closed since Saturday after the adjacent hillside with mud, rocks and uprooted trees came tumbling down at the same spot.

Engineers of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), who were present at the site, said even light vehicles will not be able to pass in a single file, though till yesterday it was expected that the highway would open today.

This morning, the Darjeeling district administration made it clear that the reopening of the highway would not be possible in the next 48 hours.

“We can only hope for the best,” said Rajesh Pandey, the district magistrate of Darjeeling. “We are in constant touch with the BRO and they have said the work of removing debris has been hampered because of fresh rain at Sevoke,” he added.

The landslide has been triggered by heavy rain. A minor accident had also taken place at the site of landslide when a small truck had tried to cross the 500-metre stretch.

Prankrishna Das, the officer-in-charge of the Sevoke police outpost, said last evening that the driver of the vehicle had tried to cross the spot on his own just after it started raining. Earlier in the day, the police had tried to help some lighter vehicles pass the area, but stopped after some rocks came tumbling down.

“The wheels of the truck stuck to the mud while one side tilted towards the gorge. The driver jumped off and later the vehicle was pulled back on the road with the help of a crane,” said Das.

Some rocks and mud had also come down on NH 55 this morning around 7.30am. The landslide at 14th Mile near Paglajhora followed a heavy shower.

Though the road is open to traffic, the toy train ran up to Tindharia instead of Kurseong. Normal services will resume tomorrow.

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