A section of residents of Madan Dutta Lane in Bowbazar, rendered homeless following a tunnel disaster because of East-West Metro’s underground work on October 14, came together on Saturday and said they would not allow repair of their homes unless the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) gave it in writing that the cracks had surfaced on their properties owing to its negligence.
The residents, dislodged from their properties for over three weeks now, barged into the camp office, set up to hear grievances about the subsidence-hit zone, and told officials present that they were yet to hear anything about their compensation from the KMRC and had no clue whether they were eligible to receive one.
As many as 136 people from at least 10 buildings on the narrow lane had to be evacuated after the KMRC officials realised that the cracks would continue to grow because of underground seepage of water making the buildings unlivable.
“A repair can't be just about cementing the cracks that have surfaced all over the walls and floors and asking residents to return. Irrespective of the condition of our existing buildings, there were neither any cracks nor fissures prior to the disaster,” said Meena Singh, whose house stands at the entrance to the narrow lane on 107 BB Ganguly Street. “Now that the cracks have rendered our homes unlivable, the KMRC must give us in writing that it happened because of its negligence. You just can’t rush through repairs and ask us to return to unsafe buildings.”
The KMRC had said it would pay Rs 5 lakh each to house owners who are unable to return to their homes within 30 days of their displacement. Shop owners of up to 100sq ft of property would receive Rs 1.5 lakh and those with establishments measuring above 100sq ft would get Rs 5 lakh each, the KMRC had said.
On Saturday, several residents who had applied for compensation said they were yet to hear anything about the disbursal of the amount.
Senior KMRC officials said the compensation would be disbursed only after a list of the affected, verified by the police and the civic authorities after visiting the houses, reaches them. Besides, the 30- day period is not yet over.