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A sliver of a building in Garden Reach

Some say the structure is an architectural marvel, others call it a slice of cucumber in a sandwich

Snehal Sengupta, Subhajoy Roy | Published 21.03.24, 07:01 AM
Pictures from Garden Reach over the past few days have shown that civic norms do not matter there.

Pictures from Garden Reach over the past few days have shown that civic norms do not matter there.

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An architectural marvel. A pristine example of Bengal’s cottage industry. A slice of cucumber in a sandwich.

People described it in many ways and continued to marvel at the wonder: a five-storey building in the sliver of space between a four-storey and a five-storey building.


Pictures from Garden Reach over the past few days have shown that civic norms do not matter there. But one picture caught people’s fancy more than any other.

Like most other “illegal” buildings in the area, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation did not have any idea about the existence of this building till its pictures emerged and people from far and wide pointed fingers at the civic body.

The building in Azhar Molla Bagan, a short walk from the site where the collapsed five-storey structure stood, has no definite postal address. A board says: “Azhar Molla Bagan, Garden Reach, Calcutta-700024”.

The facade measures around 5ft. It does not have a usual entrance. Residents of the area said the iron shutter in front has to be pulled up every time someone wants to enter or exit.

A lone window can be spotted on the first floor of the unpainted building from the lane in front. None of the upper floors has a visible window.

The gap between this building and the ones on either side barely allows a person to pass.

Civic engineers and architects who saw pictures of the building told Metro that it possibly violated every section of the CMC Building Rules.

“The Building Rules have no mention of what to do with any structure whose frontage is less than 11.4ft wide. This building has a frontage of around 5ft. It is less than the minimum frontage required for erecting a building,” said an architect empanelled with the CMC.

“I wonder how the staircase has been built. How did the builder carve out space for a landing, how did the staircase take a turn and go up? How narrow would be the staircase?” the architect wondered.

A CMC official said the minimum width required for the staircase of a five-storey building is 4.42ft. “Also, the minimum gap a five-storey building must have from the building next to it is 9.5ft,” said the official.

CMC officials said they were not aware of the building’s location. “We were busy with removal of debris. We have already served notices on six buildings in the area because they have come up without any valid permits. We will serve notices on other illegal buildings, too,” an official said.

On Wednesday evening, people milled about in front of tea stalls and grocery stores near the ultra thin building. None was willing to say what was behind the shutter or how many people lived there.

“This building came up around six years ago. I don’t know who stays here. The ground-floor shutter used to remain open before the building collapse on Sunday night,” said Mohammed Sarfaraz Alam, who lives nearby.

Alam was cut short by a man, who told him: “Aap anjaan aadmi se bina puchhe, bina jaane kyun mooh khol rahein hain. Kisi se baat karne ka koi zaroorat nahi hai (Why are you talking to strangers? There is no need to talk to anyone).”

Last updated on 21.03.24, 07:02 AM

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