Kolkata Metro work: Experts survey buildings damaged in Bowbazar

Demolition of buildings underway in Bowbazar area of Kolkata on Tuesday. (Express photo)

A five-member committee of experts, engaged by Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRCL), on Tuesday surveyed some of the damaged buildings in Bowbazar here, several of which have crumbled due to tunnel boring work for East-West Metro corridor.

The team surveyed eleven houses on Tuesday, a day after the KMRCL started the demolition work of five buildings, which were beyond repair, at Durga Pithuri Lane in the Bowbazar area.

Each of the 11 houses, that were surveyed on Tuesday, were thoroughly examined by the five-member building assessment committee comprising former Jadavpur University professor Nitin Som, Professor Somnath Ghosh, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology professor Dr Amitabho Ghosh, Indian Institute of Technology-Chennai guest lecturer Dr N K Pichumoni and Metro project expert Ken Wong.

This (survey) will continue till all the houses in the affected area are checked for stability and other factors. The houses will be repaired phase wise. The tunnel work will begin only after all the houses are repaired, said a member of the committee.

As per the KMRCL officials, they examined in detail the extent of the damage and the age of the buildings and accordingly a report would be prepared, on the basis of which further decisions would be taken.

The experts will categorise the buildings in accordance with the extent of damage, said an official.

The officials are also working on the vulnerable area so that once the tunnel work starts, such incident does not reoccur.

The KMRCL, however, had told the Calcutta High Court recently that the work would start only after a court nod.

The KMRCL said that the international experts and design consultants will review the tunnelling parameters in the affected zone to determine the methodology for safe tunneling in future.

Besides, the committee is examining the soil condition of the place.

After the buildings at Durga Pituri Lane and Syakra Para Lane developed cracks and over 500 residents evacuated last week, the KMRCL assured the state government of rebuilding the structures, which are in a precarious condition, and repairing the lesser damaged houses.

Residents of a large pocket in Bowbazar, the city s gold and jewellery manufacturing hub, had been shifted to nearby hotels since August 31 when a tunnel-boring machine of the KMRCL accidentally hit an aquifer beneath the affected zone. As water and sludge started gushing into the tunnel, gaps developed in the soil layers above it and the surface. The houses, many of which are more than a century old, suffered severe damages.

Meanwhile, as many as 19 families have already been compensated by the KMRCL with Rs 5 lakh each.

They were also given an option by the Metro authorities to shift to rented accommodation, the rent of which would be borne by the KMRCL. Many were already staying on rent in the Bowbazar houses. Many among the displaced people are small-time jewellery artisans who operated out of the rented rooms in the damaged buildings.

After the incident, the tunnel boring work was stopped for the East-West Metro corridor that will connect the IT hub of Salt Lake Sector V and Howrah station.

Work for 9.8 km of the 10.9-km-long underground tunnel has been completed for the East-West Metro corridor successfully without any incident, with the most challenging being under the Hooghly river.

(With PTI inputs)