Several jewellery shops located opposite Madan Dutta Lane in central Kolkata’s Bowbazar have developed cracks because of Friday’s subsidence, suggesting the movement of soil because of East-West Metro’s tunnelling work was not restricted to one pocket but had spread across BB Ganguly Street, a team of structural engineers said on Wednesday.
A team led by Himadri Guha, a former professor of civil engineering at Jadavpur University, went around scanning several shops located in and around Madan Dutta Lane and its adjoining areas. The team was examining the structures to understand whether some of the crack-ridden jewellery shops could remain operational for Dhanteras.
“We found that some shops located opposite Madan Dutta Lane on BB Ganguly Street have developed cracks,” Guha told The Telegraph.
“We were out to find out whether the verticality of walls or the beams of some of these buildings along with the arches have developed problems or not.”
Several gold jewellers had requested the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), which is executing the East-West Metro project, as well as the local councillor Biswarup Dey to tell them if their shops were safe for customers.
On Tuesday, a section of them had met KMRC officials with the request for an inspection of the showrooms. Since Friday’s subsidence, many customers have been calling up to ask if it would be safe visiting the showrooms for a Dhanteras-buy, they said.
Unlike the usual inspections to assess the condition of the buildings in the subsidence-zone, Wednesday’s was restricted to just shops and the viability of them keeping open for customers on Saturday.
“As many as 18 shops were inspected and the team has said all shop owners can continue with their business except one,” said a senior KMRC official.
“The shop owner has asked us to arrange for an alternative accommodation and we have told him to submit an application to us.”
Team members said the particular jewellery shop near the entrance to the MadanDutta Lane had done up its top with a glass ceiling.
“There are cracks on the top and if glass shards come down, they can be dangerous for the customers,” said Guha.
“We have therefore told the owner that it is not advisable to operate from the shops in its existing condition.”
With others, the team has said the cracks on the floor and the walls would not come in the way of the building’s stability immediately, unless the structure was subjected to strong winds accompanied by heavy rain or an earthquake.