(Darjeeling, March 20): Rainfall in Darjeeling today after almost five months helped settle the dust, but failed to provide much needed relief to the tea planters and the people in general.

With overcast skies since early morning, many residents were hoping for a rain. While it drizzled in the morning, there was a shower for about half an hour around 11.30am.

Darjeeling tea planters said the rainfall was just a little too late. “The shower has come a bit too late,” said Sandeep Mukherjee, the secretary of Darjeeling Tea Association.

The Darjeeling planters usually rely on rain around Christmas but there was no shower during the winter this year.

The dry weather has stemmed the growth of first flush, which usually fetches the highest price at auctions.

“We have suffered heavy losses this year, but we cannot provide a comprehensive figure unless the first flush season is over,” said Mukherjee.

Plucking for the first flush has already started and it generally carries on till April end.

While the rain has brought little relief to the planters, the Darjeeling Municipality, too, said the short spell would not help them much. “We need more rain. Anyway, we had started making preparations to distribute potable water through trucks and jeeps from next week. We have already approached the DGHC to provide us with Rs 40 lakh for water distribution,” said Pemba Tshering Ola, the chairman of the civic body.

The two lakes in Senchel, which supply water to Darjeeling, are bone dry. While the South Lake has absolutely no water in store, the North Lake has only about eight feet of water against the normal storage of 12 feet. Most of the 25 streams that feed water to these two lakes are running dry.

“If we have a good shower for a couple of days, the streams will start flowing again. But short spells like that of today will not help,” said a municipal worker who is associated with the distribution.

The Indian Meteorological Department has said on its website that a disturbance has developed over Jammu and Kashmir, while another was forming over western Uttar Pradesh.

With clouds still moving over the region, there is hope for more rains in Darjeeling.