Last Wednesday, underground construction for East-West Metro in central Kolkata’s Bowbazar led to cracks in several buildings in the vicinity, for the second time in less than three years.
Excavation of soil to grout a ‘blind spot’ under the Howrah-bound tunnel led to leakage of water that in turn caused subsidence and the cracks, said officials of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), the implementing agency of the 16.5-km East-West Metro corridor, which will connect Sector V with Howrah Maidan. Exactly a week later, here’s what we know, and what we don’t.
According to the KMRC, nine buildings have been damaged because of the accident. Officials in the building department of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) have put the number at 13.
After an initial assessment of the damage, KMRC officials have sought permission to partially demolish two buildings — 16 and 16/1 Durga Pituri Lane — as they have been damaged beyond repair.
Demolition work at 16/1 started on Tuesday. The owner of the other building has reportedly objected to the demolition.
The cracks are of different sizes. Some are on floors, some on walls and others on ceilings.
Residents have alleged the cracks have resurfaced in the same areas where they had in 2019, casting doubts on the repairs undertaken by the KMRC three years ago.
Till date, 154 people have been displaced, according to the KMRC. They have been shifted to hotels. The accommodation and related expenses are being borne by the KMRC.
But beyond the numbers, the human cost is immeasurable. On Tuesday, The Telegraph reported about Rajlakshmi Sen, 74, who was seen standing under the scorching sun as her belongings were being moved out of her home at 16/1 Durga Pituri Lane.
Over 20 jewellers had to pack up and leave their shops on Wednesday night. Along with homes, their livelihood is also uncertain.
The accident has brought a host of engineers to the small Bowbazar pocket. The KMRC, which was already working with several agencies, has sought help from IIT Roorkee. A team is expected soon.
The KMC has brought professors from the civil engineering department of Jadavpur University. The JU team will study a series of reports from KMRC before deciding on a concrete plan of action.
“KMC and JU experts are assessing the damage and will recommend what needs to be done. For the underground work, we will depend on the IIT team’s feedback,” said a KMRC official.
The seepage of water stopped by 10pm on Thursday but the concrete used to plug the leakage is now a challenge, said KMRC officials. The volume of the mass is around 220 cubic metres and its removal will take at least a couple of months, they said. Any further underground work can be done only after the concrete is removed.