Weather data recording has become an unusual casualty of the two-month long Darjeeling agitation as the weather station there is unable to record temperature and rainfall figures as its employees cannot attend office owing to the indefinite strike. This has in turn impacted the administration’s preparedness to plan and provide relief as it is unaware of the exact amount of rainfall during the current monsoon. Five districts in sub-Himalayan West Bengal – Jalpaiguri, Coochbehar, Alipurduar, Darjeeling and Kalimpong have been experiencing very to very heavy rains for the last few days. But the precipitation figures for Darjeeling has not been available with the regional Met department here.
“We are not getting official data on rainfall in Darjeeling. This is affecting preparedness in taking action to tackle the flood situation there,” West Bengal Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee told PTI here. This is not only affecting the people in the hills but also those in the plains as excess water which flows down the mountains flood the plains, he said. “The situation has arisen owing to the state government employees not being able to attend office due to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-led agitation in the hills,” the minister said.
While the Met department is providing forecast for the region using satellite data, it is not being able to provide rainfall or temperature data which have to be physically recorded at the weather station. Recordings of weather data at some part-time observatories are done by state government offices, which then pass on the figures to the regional IMD office, a Met department official said. The part-time observatory in Darjeeling is located in the Raj Bhawan area and is manned by some officials of the state PWD there, he said.
“We are not getting data from Darjeeling for some time. As far as we know, employees who do the recordings are not being able to come to office,” a senior official at the regional Met office, which is under the central government, said. “Lack of information on rainfall at times like this when the region is lashed by very heavy rains for several days can affect the administration’s preparedness to tackle the situation,” the official said.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the agitation, had specifically asked West Bengal government employees not to attend office as part of their pressure tactic in demanding a separate hill state of Gorkhaland.