Jewellers of Bowbazar’s Durga Pituri Lane in central Kolkata, where cracks have appeared in buildings for the second time in three years because of East-West Metro work, were the first to turn up at a centre set up to address the concerns of those displaced.
About a dozen of them were at the centre as soon as it opened on Monday.
Housed in a small room at the office of local councillor Bishwarup Dey, the centre is staffed by officials of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), the implementing agency of the Metro project.
The jewellers, hit hard around the time when orders started coming ahead of the wedding season, wanted to know what the KMRC had decided about their rehabilitation.
Over 20 jewellers and gold traders had to pack up and leave their shops and homes on Wednesday night, where cracks started appearing in buildings in the narrow lane. Their estimated loss is about Rs 10 lakh a day.
“We want the KMRC to state what it has thought about our rehabilitation and compensation. Not just us, the livelihood of 150-odd workers are at stake,” said Phani Bhushan Roy.
The walls of Roy’s jewellery shop — PB Jewellers —on the ground floor of a three-storey building at 19 Durga Pituri Lane are ridden with cracks big and small.
The entire building is under lock and key. Roy has asked his five workers to fend for themselves.
Roy, his wife Sipra, who suffered a lumbar crack in December, and their two children stayed in an apartment in the same building. The family has moved to a hotel on Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road in central Kolkata.
Others like Roy who turned up to meet the KMRC officials said the biggest challenge for them was to find an alternative space from where they could operate.
All their business contacts are in Bowbazar, where finding a small room means paying more than double the rent they have been paying for so long.
“The rent for a table space for three men now will be Rs 6,000 a month. For those who have been paying a rent of Rs 500 a month, is this feasible?” asked Paritosh Kar, a goldsmith from Durga Pituri Lane.
At a meeting with KMRC officials in the presence of the MP Sudip Bandopadhayay and others on Sunday, residents of the affected buildings had demanded that a team from the Metro authorities be present in the neighbourhood every day to address their concerns.
Senior KMRC officials of the grievance cell asked each one who met them during the day to submit in writing their woes and what they were looking for.
“We have asked the affected traders to submit documents so we can prepare a list. A survey will soon be held to identify the extent of damage to the shops,” said a KMRC official.