The Telegraph
Thursday , August 10 , 2017

Life as usual in collapse zone

Aug. 9: Shops have reopened, vehicles and pedestrians are back vying for space and motorcycles line up near repair shops in front of 10 Indian Mirror Street which partially caved in barely 15 days ago, claiming two lives.

The scene today in front of the 125-year-old building near Wellington Square was almost similar to what one would see before the eastern section of the lime-and-mortar structure collapsed on July 25.

The two who died were Hansa Shaw, 19, a member of the family that owns 10 Indian Mirror Street, and Himadri Pahari, 38, who worked in one of the shops on the ground floor of the building.

The building is in a neighbourhood where shops selling automobile spares and accessories stand cheek by jowl with century-old structures that are poorly maintained.

Residents of the area said the shops are back to doing brisk business after the road in front of 10 Indian Mirror Street was thrown open to traffic a week ago. Before that, guardrails were placed in such a way that only two-wheelers could pass through.

The death of Hansa and Himadri no longer dominate the conversation of residents of the central Calcutta neighbourhood.

The collapsed portion of the house - a washing machine, a broken mirror and an old portrait are still visible from the street through the broken walls - seems to be the only reminder of the tragedy.

A board nailed on a outer wall of the collapsed section reads "Dangerous Building".

The shutters of RR Automobiles, where Himadri worked as a bookkeeper, were up. People were entering and leaving the shop using the same passage on which a part of the first floor had collapsed, leaving Himadri trapped under the rubble.

"I am still traumatised," said an owner of the shop who refused to be identified. "Himadri's death still haunts me but I cannot afford to keep the shop closed."

Till a few days ago, the road in front of the three interlinked structures bearing the same address had been cordoned off by the police. Cops would shout " odikey jaben na (don't go there)" in unison at the hordes of men and women who would turn up in front of the house and gawk at the portion that had caved in.

Now, the two police constables posted in front the building are barely bothered if passersby try to take a closer look at the collapsed part.

Aniket Shaw, 24, one of Hansa's cousin, stays at 9 Indian Mirror Street, another "Dangerous Building" that has not seen repairs for as long as one can remember. "A chill runs down my spine every time I look at the collapsed part. We have nowhere else to go and can only pray that we remain safe," Aniket said.

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