The owners of several houses on Durga Pituri Lane in central Kolkata’s Bowbazar, which have been labelled as ‘severely damaged’ by experts from Jadavpur University, said they were clueless about the fate of their properties.
It has been almost a week since the team of experts submitted its preliminary findings identifying nine buildings as severely damaged. Neither Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) nor Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), the implementing agency of East-West Metro, has contacted any of the owners and spelt out to them what lies ahead, the owners said.
Officials in the KMC buildings department said they would soon call a meeting with their counterparts in the KMRC to discuss the next step. “Before that we want the partial demolition of three buildings in Bowbazar to be over,” said an engineer in the department.
“We will go by what the KMC says. The KMC has not informed us yet about what it wants us to do,” said a KMRC official.
On May 11, excavation of soil to grout a “blind spot” under the Howrah-bound tunnel of East-West Metro, which once fully functional will span 16.5km and link Sector V with Howrah Maidan, had led to leakage of underground water and triggered cracks in buildings in Durga Pituri Lane.
More than 160 people were displaced by the cracks, which appeared for the second time since 2019.
“I have learnt that my house features on the list of the buildings identified as severely damaged. But KMC and KMRC officials have not yet informed me about the report, nor have they yet told me what would happen to my house,” said Pradip Laha.
Since the 2019 disaster, the Lahas have been staying in an accommodation arranged by the KMRC.
“Like the owners and residents of other buildings on the list, I want to know whether my house will be razed and a new structure will come up in its place,” he said. “No official has engaged with us and explained the implications of the findings of the experts’ committee.”
The report by the JU experts has said KMRC should evacuate all residents of the buildings identified as severely damaged before resuming tunneling work in Bowbazar.
Himadri Guha, a former professor of civil engineering at JU and a member of the survey team, said some buildings were in “distressed condition” and not fit for habitation.
“Ours is a three-storeyed building in Durga Pituri Lane, which has been lying in neglect for almost three years now,” said Subir Dutta, the owner of one of the nine houses, who has been staying in a rented accommodation in Beleghata since the subsidence in 2019.
“I don’t know whether my house will be pulled down or not. There is no communication from the KMC or KMRC.”