Trader-Metro impasse ends
Traders and workshop owners in Bowbazar, who have been dislodged from their shops after the East-West Metro tunnel disaster struck the area on August 31, have finally agreed to a compensation package offered by the Metro Railway authorities.
The terms of the compensation were decided at a recent meeting between the traders and officials of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), which is the implementing agency of the East-West Metro that aims to connect Salt Lake Sector V with Howrah Maidan.
It has been decided that the affected traders and businessmen who had workspace up to 100sqft in Syakrapara Lane and Durga Pituri Lane would be offered a compensation of Rs 1 lakh. Those with bigger space will get a compensation of Rs 5 lakh.
Sources said there were around 120 traders who would be eligible for the compensation amount.
On August 31, a tunnel-boring machine had hit a sand aquifer that triggered water leakage, leading to sudden subsidence of buildings across Durga Pituri Lane, Syakrapara Lane and Gour De Lane. Over 650 residents had to be evacuated from 68 premises.
Sources said the KMRC had also offered to pay rent to those seeking a new shop space in Bowbazar provided it is of the same size as mentioned in the trade licence. The rate has been fixed at Rs 60 per sqft. The rent for space in excess of the size mentioned in the trade licence will have to be borne by the owner.
“We have accepted the package. The idea is to find new space and start our businesses as early as possible instead of waiting any further,” said Bharat Soni, the owner of a jewellery shop at Syakrapara Lane.
Soni and a few others had represented traders at the meeting where the thrust was largely in finding an amicable solution to the impasse over the refusal of traders to accept KMRC’s initial compensation offer of Rs 50,000 to each of them.
Several businessmen, most of whom either had a jewellery shop or a workshop where goldsmiths would work on designs, had spurned the offer saying they had been “displaced” for no fault of theirs and were entitled to a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each. Some of them had even argued that if tenants were entitled to Rs 5 lakh, as were house owners, why would they be discriminated against.
The deadlock had threatened to disrupt the process of rehabilitating those hit by the accident even as some of the traders took to the streets demanding the KMRC inform them about their status.
“We have told the KMRC that we are unwilling to move to the building on Black Burn Lane in Territy Bazar. Officials accepted our logic and said they were willing to pay a part of the rent,” said Gopal Modak, who owned a jewellery shop at 10/2 Syakrapara Lane.
Sources in the KMRC said they were disbursing the compensation after thoroughly checking the trade licences of those affected.
“The process of disbursal of compensation amount would be completed within the next week,” said an officer.