Flaws in the ventilation system at Metro stations are being rectified after years, thanks to the scorching summer this year that has turned some of them into torture chambers.
Air-conditioning equipment at four stations have been replaced along with defunct ventilation fans. Repairs are underway at all 15 underground stations, officials said.
Complaints from commuters about feeling suffocated or uncomfortably warm had been mounting over the past few summers. People jostling for space under the vents through which air is supposed to reach the platforms had become a common sight at busy stations such as Girish Park, Shyambazar and Kalighat.
“The air-conditioning at Girish Park never seemed to work. You move from under one vent to another but still no air. It was cooler inside a non-AC rake than on the platform,” Suvajit Dutt, a regular Metro commuter, said.
As a stop-gap measure, stations such as Chandni Chowk are getting fans fitted on pillars along the platform. The air-conditioning equipment at Girish Park, Esplanade, Jatin Das Park and Mahatma Gandhi Road stations have been replaced.
A senior official of Metro Railway said a maintenance check was carried out at all the underground stations recently, based on reports from station managers about commuters finding the ventilation system inadequate.
“The majority of the complaints were verbal but we decided to conduct a check nevertheless. It revealed that many ventilation fans across the underground stations weren’t working,” the official said.
The decision to overhaul the air-conditioning system at four stations was taken earlier, he said.
Payel Ganguly, who works in a private firm on Ganesh Chandra Avenue, felt the difference when she stepped onto the platform at Kalighat station on Tuesday. “During peak hours, I would feel suffocated. That feeling has somewhat eased,” she said.
Metro officials said they were trying to ensure that the maximum temperature at the underground stations was not more than 30 degrees Celsius.
All underground stations are equipped with four huge fans at either end that blow cool air from the air-conditioning plant through ducts. These ducts carry the cool air to the platforms and let it out through vents fitted with smaller fans.
“Several of these ventilation fans had either stopped functioning or were rotating at less than the recommended speed. We are repairing these as well as the intake fans that pump in air for better cooling,” the superintendent of a station in south Calcutta said.
Two intake fans of higher capacity than those that exist are being added in each station to pump cool air from the air-conditioning plant.
The blades of all ventilation fans are being cleaned and their motors repaired, wherever necessary. Exhaust fans at six stations, including Esplanade and Girish Park, have been replaced.