Some residents of Durga Pituri Lane in central Kolkata’s Bowbazar who had not shifted on Wednesday night when cracks started surfacing on the walls of their homes finally did so on Thursday night, after Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) officials urged them to do so.
KMRC is the implementing agency of the East-West Metro project.
“KMRC officials turned up late in the day on Thursday and checked the cracks. After an assessment of the structure, they asked us to move out,” said Asim Kumar Sinha, a resident. “We had no choice but to follow the order.”
Sinha and several others, who were accommodated in a hotel on SN Banerjee Road, returned home on Friday to pick up some of their valuables.
At least seven families of 1/4 Durga Pituri Lane were accommodated in the hotel on Thursday night. On Friday, police cordoned off the entrance to the building, allowing only residents to step in to collect their belongings.
Amita Pal was among those who moved out on Thursday night. In her late 60s, the woman had lost husband Arun while staying at a hotel that the KMRC had arranged for them in 2019, away from their house in the subsidence-ridden Durga Pituri Lane.
Her daughter in tow, Amita stepped out of her first-floor rented accommodation on Thursday evening, full of apprehensions.
Another stint in a hotel would mean another set of challenges. On Friday, she refused to talk while carrying some of her belongings. Several others like her were in no mood to talk as they left Durga Pituri Lane, holding on to their luggage.
“We have to find a separate room for our belongings, including TV sets and computers. Hotel rooms can’t accommodate all our belongings,” said Seema Jaiswal, a dislodged resident. “We went through this nearly three years back. It’s all about packing and unpacking again. It is so frustrating.”
However, some of the residents are still staying in their houses despite the cracks as they have not been asked to move out.
Ashoke Dutta, 74, said he could not sleep on Thursday night fearing that he and his 76-year-old sister Sandhya would be asked to vacate home any time at night.
Dutta and his family, who had once vacated home in 2019 and stayed away from the Bowbazar area for two years, are apprehending that they would have to leave home again as cracks have re-appeared on the walls of their house.
“We were told that if the condition worsens, we would have to move. We packed bare minimum belongings and waited the whole night. But we were not asked to move,” said Dutta.