Residents of buildings in Bowbazar’s Durga Pituri Lane in central Kolkata where cracks had appeared because of East-West Metro work in 2019, but not this time, were told by experts from Jadavpur University on Wednesday that their homes were in bad shape.
Some of the buildings that had developed cracks in 2019 are still supported by steel props.
“These are old buildings and cracks have worsened despite mitigation measures," said an official of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), implementing agency of the Metro project.
“The experts from JU said that in many of these buildings, the mortar has waned completely and only bricks are holding the structures. The structures are unable to resist even small settlements.”
On Wednesday, a number of house owners got the impression during their informal interaction with the experts that many more buildings in the Bowbazar area could develop cracks.
An owner of 10A Durga Pituri Lane was asked not to return home immediately and wait for at least a year after the East-West Metro operation on the stretch starts.
A few others were told repairs of the cracks in their houses might not be as simple as some of them had been made to understand.
The residents of most of the buildings where cracks had appeared in 2019 have been living elsewhere since the disaster. Many of them visited Durga Pituri Lane on Wednesday to meet the three-member team of experts from Jadavpur University.
“I asked the experts whether I can have a night’s sleep in peace once I return home? One of the experts said: ‘kokhonoi noy (never)’,” said Pradip Laha, one of the building owners who has been living away from Bowbazar for close to three years, in an accommodation arranged by the KMRC.
“He told me I should return a year after Metro starts operation. I was counting days after the KMRC had said it would be a few months before I could return,” he said.
“The visiting team told me the building where I used to live is in bad shape. They said the cracks may not be mended with simple repairs,” said Vikash Shaw, one of the residents who moved out with his family to another house adjacent to Durga Pituri Lane after KMRC officials had asked him to vacate the house.
Almost all the houses in the narrow lane in Bowbazar are made of brick and mortar and ridden with cracks of varying sizes that had developed in 2019 and again a week back.
“The visiting team informally said that apart from the ones that have been identified for demolition, several might have to go. For example 2/2 Durga Pituri Lane,” local MLA Nayana Bandopadhayay told The Telegraph.
“We would rather wait for a formal report than go by their words.”
KMRC has identified three buildings in Durga Pituri Lane for partial demolition.
Senior officials in Kolkata Municipal Corporation said they were awaiting a formal preliminary report from the experts by this week.
JU experts have been scanning buildings in the crack-hit zone for the last few years.
On Wednesday, they chose to visit some of the buildings in Durga Pituri Lane where cracks had not appeared in the recent accident but suffered considerable damage following the subsidence three years ago.