More than a fortnight after being left homeless, residents of the subsidence-hit Madan Dutta Lane in Bowbazar said the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) was yet to tell them whether they could return home or would have to stay in rented accommodations after moving out of hotels.
Over 100 people were displaced after cracks appeared in their homes following a cave-in triggered by East-West Metro’s tunneling work early on October 14.
The residents have since been staying in hotels, arranged by the KMRC, the implementing agency of the Metro project. Once complete, East-West Metro will connect Sector V and Howrah Maidan. Now, trains run between Sector V and Sealdah on the corridor.
The KMRC has declared compensation for the displaced residents and traders.
Repairs of some of the damaged buildings have started amid questions from owners whether cosmetic repairs are enough to secure the buildings.
“We want to know whether securing the foundation with some concrete and repairing the cracks will make my house strong enough for me to return and start living again,” said Subrata Kar, who owns a three-storeyed building at 10 Madan Dutta Lane.
“We are being told that it should be enough. But we want to know whether the KMRC will give us a ‘fitness certificate’ for the building before we move in? Whom do we ask? There is none to answer our queries.”
In his late 50s, Kar, who works for a stock broking firm, had to move out of his house with wife Sushmita hours after cracks started appearing in the building on October 14.
Since then, the couple has visited the house twice.
They last visited the house a few days back when engineers wanted to enter the building and set up steel stilts to prevent the crack-ridden roof from collapsing.
“It is not just about compensation. There must be a clear mode of communication. KMRC officials should explain to us clearly what they were planning to do with the house. That, unfortunately, isn’t the case.”
Three rooms in the house of Binod Singh, Kar’s neighbour, developed cracks early on October 14 and kept growing by the hour.
He had to move out with his wife and two daughters. The family has been staying in a hotel since.
“Almost a fortnight has passed since we had to leave our home at a short notice. And we are still waiting for answers. Is the building safe? Can we return anytime soon or will it be a long wait? Where is the guarantee that the building will not develop cracks again?” asked Singh.
“Some KMRC officials told me they would answer my queries after November 3.” With discontent brewing among dislodged residents and traders, KMRC officials said they would meet them, if needed, to allay their fears.
“Work on strengthening the foundation of some of the houses in Madan Dutta Lane has begun. We hope to get structural engineers to assess their condition before asking some residents to return. If needed, we will meet the residents and traders,” said a senior KMRC official.