KOLKATA: The East-West Metro authorities have started renewing the 11-month rental agreements for flats occupied by families displaced in the tunnelling accident in Bowbazar. A year after the disaster, the evacuees are now trying to settle into their new homes, lamenting the loss of their ancestral properties in Bowbazar.
On August 31 last year, around 700 people had to be shifted out of their homes after the tunnel boring machine hit an aquifer, leading to large-scale subsidence and build-ings crumbling.
At present, 332 of the Bowbazar residents are staying in 82 rented flats, most in east Kolkata. Among them is Jayanta Seal, whose house on 13A, Durga Pithuri Lane, was reduced to debris. “I don’t even want to be reminded of that afternoon. Our old home, with all its antique furniture, is gone. It is impossible to come to terms with the loss,” Seal said. The family now lives in a 2BHK flat in Phoolbagan. The rent is being paid by ITD ITD-Cementation, the company contracted to build the last leg of the underground tunnels between Esplanade and Sealdah.
Soumen Sengupta, assistant general manager, ITD ITD Cementation, said, “The rental leases for 11 months are ending one by one and we are renewing them for another 11 months. The dates of renewal are different since the families were shifted out of hotels between mid-September and end-December last year.”
Ground Zero of the disaster, Durga Pithuri Lane, is now an open space. The 27 buildings there had either collapsed or were razed for safety. Now, a shaft for retrieving the two tunnel borers is being built there.
Chandi, the TBM that was digging the west-bound tunnel, has been lying defunct around 12m below the ground after the accident. Both Chandi and its twin, Urvi, digging the east-bound tunnel to Sealdah, will be pulled out of the 22m-deep, 40m-long and 15m-wide retrieval shaft and Urvi will turn around to build the rest of the west-bound tunnel till Durga Pithuri Lane.
All this should take six months or more and flats will be built for the 332 people currently housed in rented accommodations. After repairs, 372 people had been taken back to 26 houses in Bowbazar.
“We are in touch with the families and will start visiting them once the pandemic ends,” Sengupta said.