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Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC)

Demolition stares at two houses

Cracks so big that light passes through them; Bowbazar residents seek clarity

Kinsuk Basu And Debraj Mitra | Published 15.05.22, 01:58 AM
A family packs up their belongings to move out of Durga Pituri Lane in Bowbazar on Saturday.

A family packs up their belongings to move out of Durga Pituri Lane in Bowbazar on Saturday.

Sanat Kr Sinha

At least two buildings on Durga Pituri Lane in Bowbazar will have to be pulled down as an initial assessment has revealed that these structures are not stable and could collapse, officials of the KMRC that is executing the East-West Metro project said on Saturday.

Late in the afternoon, the residents of 16 and 16/1 Durga Pituri Lane were informed of the decision and told to shift their valuables immediately.

“The decision has been taken on the basis of an assessment by Stupp Consultants that these buildings are unsafe. The decision has already been communicated to the residents,” N.C. Karmali, director (projects) of the KMRC, told Metro.

Officials said the cracks in these two buildings were big — the gaps in some of them were large enough for light to pass through them — and were spread all over including on terraces, walls, floors and staircases, making them unstable structures. Unless demolished, portions of the buildings could collapse soon, officials said.

Both houses have two storeys and one of them has two families living in it while the other has one. Officials of the KMRC said they planned to start with 16 Durga Pituri Lane before moving to the other.

“Prior to the demolition, we will have to arrange for a place where the two families living in the building can store their stuff,” said a senior official. “We will be meeting the two families on Sunday morning for initial discussions.”

Apart from these two buildings, the KMRC has identified two other houses in the area — 19 and 1/4 Durga Pituri Lane. The condition of both these structures is poor.

“All the buildings are cheek by jowl with no gap in between. So if cracks develop at the joints, they can be difficult to repair,” said the official.

As word about the impending demolition spread in the evening, residents of many houses rushed to clear some of their valuables, not sure where they could take them other than to the hotels where they have been put up.

A few heaved a sigh of relief following the KMRC’s decision.

“Even if my house was repaired, which they did last in 2019, I wouldn’t have slept in peace with my family,” said Subhasis Das, owner of the building at 16 Durga Pituri Lane. “Cracks have appeared at all the points that had been repaired. The house is not fit to live in and it makes sense to pull it down.”

Cracks surfaced in multiple buildings in Bowbazar’s Durga Pituri Lane, close to the route of the ongoing East-West Metro project, forcing many families to vacate their homes on Wednesday night.

In 2019, more than 250 people had to be evacuated from 13 buildings in Bowbazar after cracks appeared on the walls under the impact of the boring of the East-West tunnel.

Das, who lives with his grandmother, mother, wife and son, has been a resident of No. 16 since his birth. He said he would want the KMRC to arrange for an alternative place to stay and keep his belongings — beds, almirah and other furniture.

Several other residents of Durga Pituri Lane hoped the KMRC would make it clear which buildings needed to be razed so they could be a bit less anxious.

“First, the displacement and then the uncertainty of whether we would be able to return to our houses. Let the KMRC decide fast and inform the residents,” said Raj Kumar Chaurasia, a resident of 19 Durga Pituri Lane.

Senior officials from the Calcutta Municipal Corpo-ration said they were not aware of the KMRC’s decision to pull down some buildings, at least not till late on Saturday night.

“We have not received any intimation from the KMRC. Officially they would have to inform the civic body before deciding to pull down any of the buildings,” said a senior official of the building department.

Last updated on 15.05.22, 01:58 AM
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