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24 Jun 2018

Rivulet snaps Falakata link

The collapsed bridge over the Char Torsha on the Alipurduar-Falakata road on Saturday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
TT, Alipurduar: Direct connectivity between Falakata and Alipurduar, the district headquarters, snapped on Saturday as a stream washed away a temporary diversion made on the route after a wood-and-iron bridge over the rivulet had collapsed a couple of years back.

Those travelling along the route or going to Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and many other destinations have to take a turnaround route which means an additional travel of around 25 kilometres.

Falakata and Alipurduar are 40 kilometres apart.

Along the route, there are four wooden bridges, which are above rivulets, ahead of the Siltorsha bridge, that is over the Torsha river. The bridge was opened back on 2002, but till date, none of the wooden bridges that are en route, have been replaced by concrete bridges.

Around two years back, one of these bridges that is on Char Torsha - one of the rivulets - had collapsed following a bout of incessant rain that had increased water levels at the stream.

Since then, vehicles used to move along a diversion, made by the PWD. The bridge however, was not repaired.

On Saturday early morning, as the district experienced rainfall, the stream swelled and washed away the diversion, thus cutting off Falakata from Alipurduar. Sources said, Nripen Bhowmick (34), a local youth who was standing on the stream's bank, slipped and drowned in it on Saturday. Members of the disaster management group searching for him.

"The stream had brought down the bridge during monsoons. It is disappointing that these wood and iron bridges along the route have not been replaced by concrete bridges," said Prafulla Barman, a resident living close to the stream.

Those residing in hamlets along the route are the worst sufferers, as on one hand, there is no option to cross the stream and on either side, transport is not available. The halt in traffic movement has also left the bus owners in problem.

"We have to travel 50 kilometres extra for a return trip. But most of the passengers are not ready to pay any additional fare," said a bus owner based in Alipurduar. "Once water recedes in the stream, the diversion would be repaired. Also, there are plans to repair the old wooden bridge in couple of months' time," said a PWD source.

There is however, still no hint as when the concrete bridges would come up. "This is because the four-lane expressway will pass through the route and once construction of the project starts in the stretch, the bridges would be replaced by new ones," added the source.

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