Over 70 homes have to be pulled down in Bowbazar because they developed cracks that are beyond repair after the first two incidents — in 2019 and in May 2022. A study is yet to be conducted on how many more buildings have to be demolished after Friday’s subsidence.
Seventy homes could mean less than 70 buildings, but in one of Kolkata’s most congested neighbourhoods even that is a significant number. The total area of the households that have to be pulled down would be about 20,000sqm or 2.20lakh sq ft or 15 bighas, said a retired professor of Jadavpur University involved in assessing the conditions of the buildings with cracks. The buildings that developed cracks in 2019 and in May are from two lanes — Durga Pituri Lane and Syakrapara Lane.
The buildings where cracks developed on Friday are in neighbouring Madan Dutta Lane. The demolition of the old structures and the erection of new ones in their places could completely alter the face of the area dotted by many century-old buildings. Mayor Firhad Hakim, who visited the Bowbazar site with senior government officials on Saturday evening, said chief minister Mamata Banerjee was concerned about the plight of residents who had to be evacuated. “Seventy-one households have to be pulled down,” Hakim said. “The chief minister is very concerned about the plight of residents. We have come here under her instructions,” he said.
“All the 71 households have gone beyond the scope of repair. Many of these are old buildings and some of them are older than 100 years,” said a KMC official. The KMC official said that the nature of cracks, the age of buildings and some other engineering factors were considered before it was decided that the 71 households could not be repaired. Himadri Guha, a retired JU professor who is one of the members of the team assessing the condition of buildings in this area, told Metro “the buildings that need to be pulled down occupy 20,000 sqm”. “This is about three-anda-half-times the size of the Mohun Bagan ground,” he said. Guha said that Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) had already demolished some of the buildings that are beyond scope repair. A press release issued from Nabanna on Saturday said that the buildings and shops that cannot be repaired would be rebuilt.
“The KMRC has to build the new structures,” said a CMC official. But no date on when the construction of new buildings can start has been fixed yet. A senior official of the KMRC said Friday’s incident will again push back the date for the construction of new buildings. “We will now have to wait and see what the JU team says,” the KMRC official said.