GANGTOK- Incessant rains and resultant landslides in the Himalayan state of Sikkim left 200 tourists stranded in North Sikkim and also affected piped water supply to the capital town of Gangtok, officials said on Wednesday.
The heavy rains have damaged NH-10 that connects the rest of the country via Siliguri to Gangtok at 19 and 20 Mile between Singtam in East district and Rangpo in Pakyong district blocking a lane of the main highway that links Sikkim to West Bengal, officials said.
Sikkim Tourism Development Commission (STDC) chairman Lukendra Rasaily said the 200 tourists are stranded in North Sikkim district and STDC in association with a travel organisation sent taxis to bring them back here. On reaching here they will be sent to Siliguri in West Bengal.
The tourists are being lodged in their hotels for the past two days and travel and hotel operators have been asked by STDC to take special care of them, Rasaily said.
In North Sikkim the places blocked included Phodong and Namok on the highway to Mangan. Road to the district is also blocked at Sokpey, Rakdong and Tintek Khola near Dikchu and work is on to remove the debris, the officials said.
Permits for tourist vehicles to north Sikkim, which has a number of tourist destinations, have been cancelled by the administration in view of the road blocks caused by the rains in several areas, the officials said.
Road to Lum, Dzongu in North Sikkim has also been blocked after a major slide washed away the only connecting road to the village. Tourist destinations Lachen and Lachung are totally cut off from Gangtok due to a massive landslide at Pegong near Chunthang. Restoration work there is being affected by the lashing rain, they said.
A tourist vehicle carrying five tourists from West Bengal was hit by a landslide at B1 ( North Sikkim Highway) on Sunday night. All sustained minor injuries, they were rescued by the North Sikkim police.
Officials here said the water supply in Greater Gangtok has been hit by a major landslide at Ratey chu which damaged the pipe lines, officials said.
Public Health Engineering department officials said work is on to restore the water supply but it might take another two days to complete it. An advisory has been issued by the authorities to the people of Greater Gangtok to use water judiciously till the restoration is completed.
Work is on in the area on a priority basis to clear the landslips. But the heavy rains have made the condition of the stretch on the highway unpredictable as there may be more landslips anytime and the authorities have asked commuters to use alternative routes via Pakyong and central Pendam to reach the West Bengal border.
Some houses have been damaged at Marchak village on the Singtam-Mangan highway and the affected have been shifted to new locations by the district administration.
The rains are set to continue and the met department has issued a red alert in the Himalayan state and warned of heavy to very heavy rainfall due to an upper air trough stretching from east Uttar Pradesh to Arunachal Pradesh across Bihar, sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Assam.
There were reports of heavy rains in neighbouring north Bengal and Bhutan too.
Neighbouring districts of north Bengal and Bhutan are also being lashed by heavy rains. Rain water from Bhutan has entered the Jharna bustee area of Jaigaon in Alipurduar and have washed away 150 meters of a road on which a number of houses stood, reports from Jalpaiguri said.