As many as 254 residents of Bowbazar area in central Kolkata were shifted to different hotels on Sunday after their houses developed serious cracks due to the ongoing underground tunnel boring work for East-West metro railway project.
Portions of some buildings collapsed as well, however, there was no report of any injury, a fire brigade official said here.
The area has been cordoned off by police.
According to the officials of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited (KMRCL), 18 houses were damaged as the underground tunnel got waterlogged.
The residents of Durga Pituri Lane in congested Bowbazar area, on the other hand, complained that the metro railway officials did not undertake proper survey of the houses and the place as a whole, before carrying out the underground tunnel work.
“The situation is very alarming here. The cracks developed yesterday (Saturday) evening. Today they turned serious. Plasters came off and balconies of some houses collapsed. We have been asked to vacate our houses and go to a hotel. The police have cordoned off the area. All our belongings are there in the house and we have no clue when we will be able to come back,” said Indrajit Sen, one of the residents of the area.
As many as 18 buildings were vacated as a precautionary measure. Metro railway officials visited the area, along with engineers, and examined the damaged houses.
“Yesterday (Saturday) around 6 45 pm, water started entering the tunnel, which forced our workers to use cement to stop the flow. It is a very unfortunate incident. I do not remember if this kind of incident happened before,” said a senior official of the KMRCL.
Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim also went to the spot and held a meeting with the metro railway officials. “Under the present circumstances, the police will not give permission to the residents of these 18 houses to enter into their properties. We have condoned off the area. We will set up a control room here. A temporary arrangement has been made for them in hotels. Metro railway will bear all the costs. They will also bring experts from outside to inspect the area and find out whether to raze the houses or repair them. This will take about six months. The metro railway authorities will make arrangements for the residents at rented flats till then. They will stay there till they can come back here or are offered houses elsewhere,” Hakim told reporters.
The underground tunnel that caused problems in the Bowbazar area will connect Esplanade with Sealdah. The KMRCL is constructing the East-West metro corridor connecting IT hub Sector V in Salt Lake to Howrah Maidan. Tunnels have been bored under River Hooghly to connect the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah through the rapid transit system. The new metro corridor passes through some of Kolkata’s most congested areas where there are many century-old buildings, some of which are in dilapidated condition.
with PTI inputs