Army has been deployed in Siliguri, Darjeeling as the flood situation in its northern parts worsened after Mahananda river washed away about 700-meter-long embankment at two places on Thursday morning and started flowing from the villages.
The army deployment came after the failure of the state irrigation department to repair the 350-meter-long embankment that was washed away on Saturday by the Mahananda at North Champasari.
As a result more than 70% of river has flown into the seven villages and flooded them. Many houses have been submerged. The National Disaster Management Team was deployed for the rescue operation.
Thousands of people have been affected and many of them have been shifted to safer paces.
The villages - Tin Dhurey, Purba Karaibari, Jadu Vitta, Sisabari, Maheshmari, Kolabari and Palas – were flooded on Saturday and were the first to be affected.
The repair work progressed at a snail's pace despite assurance by Manas Bhuiyan, irrigation minister of West Bengal, that his department was capable of repairing the embankment if it does not rain in Darjeeling hills for the next two days. He had visited the flood-affected areas on Sunday.
The affected people on Thursday blamed the irrigation department for sheer 'negligence.' Badri Sharma a local youth said, "Had the irrigation department worked in war footing, the situation could have been controlled immediately."
Though senior army officers had said that the army was ready on Saturday itself to move in to repair the embankment, the Darjeeling district administration did not seek its help.
On Thursday the army was finally deployed at 2.30 pm after the situation went beyond the control of irrigation department.
However, for now the army's role would be restricted to the repair of embankment at two points and divert Mahananda River.
Soumitra Mohan the district magistrate of Darjeeling said, "The army has been called to help the state irrigation department to carry out the repair of breached embankments."