Metro’s inaccessible tag on 15 buildings
A notice hanging on the wall of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation’s control room here has buried all hopes of retrieving valuables for owners and residents of 15 buildings in the cave-in zone.
The handwritten notice has listed nine buildings in Syakrapara Lane and six in Durga Pituri Lane as “not accessible” for “recovery of the valuables due to unsafe condition”.
Since the night of August 31, when cracks started appearing in buildings and the house owned by the Seals on Durga Pituri Lane came crumbling down, some of these buildings on the list have remained a threat.
With chunks coming off at regular intervals and lime-and-mortar walls gradually giving way, police have restricted all movement in these lanes. As subsidence continued, window frames and plaster on walls came off and main doors sank below the road level.
Several residents, who had thought it would be possible to retrieve their valuables, gradually started to realise that many of their houses would remain inaccessible.
Engineers of the KMRC, the implementing agency of the East-West Metro project, which will connect Howrah to Sector V running under the bed of the river Hooghly, said some of the buildings that had been listed were in a bad shape and posed a threat because of the extent of damage caused by subsidence.
Even a slight disturbance while removing items could create enough ripples for walls to suddenly start giving way, they said.
The subsidence occurred after the machine boring the East-West Metro tunnel hit a sand aquifer on August 31.
“In all probability, these buildings stand within a 15-metre radius of the tunnel-boring machine stuck underground,” said a KMRC engineer. “We want to be doubly cautious to avoid any further mishap.”
Engineers said Durga Pituri Lane had been the worst-hit in Bowbazar’s cave-in zone. The six buildings that are on the list from this lane suffered cracks between August 31 and September 2. One of them was so unstable that the process of dismantling dangerous structures had to start with it.
On Monday, dismantling work started at a house at 11 Syakrapara Lane. The building is among the nine on the list from this lane.
“We tried entering our house but they wouldn’t allow us in throughout Monday,” said Sraboni Raha, one of the owners of the building.
“On Tuesday evening, a KMRC official suddenly called us up and asked us to immediately make arrangements for removing a table, four chairs and a refrigerator that they have been able to retrieve from the three-storeyed building.”
A team of structural engineers led by Nitin Som, emeritus professor of JU, visited the three lanes on Tuesday afternoon to assess the condition of the buildings. Sources said by this week the team would finalise an initial list of buildings where residents could be allowed entry.
“We need to study the condition of the buildings over and over again before drawing up our recommendations for the KMRC,” Som told Metro. “The best part is that over the last few days there has been no subsidence.”
Even as Som and his men went about with the survey, a separate team carried out soil tests in Gaur De Lane to understand whether it would withstand stress of the buildings that stood on it.