Ministry of Railways seeks report from KMRC on collapse on buildings in Bowbazar

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Kolkata : With lakhs of people being evacuated from the Bow Bazar area in the heart of the city at Central Kolkata in Bengal after buildings, some of them 200-year-old, collapsed due to a work of East West Metro project of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) for boring of underground tunnel, the Ministry of Railways has instructed the KMRC to file a report about the reasons for such a damage .

Sources in the KMRC said that recently the Ministry of Railways has sent a letter asking what prompted such a disaster as the route of the East West Metro was pre-planned, weighing on pros on cons, and work was supposed to go as per the planned route.

Senior officials of the KMRC said that as per the plan, a part of the metro line will be constructed above the soil, while another part of the line will be constructed underground. The Metro will run over the ground near Bengal Chemicals at Salt Lake, Phoolbagan and then a tunnel will be constructed which will go underground. While it was earlier decided that it will go straight from BB Ganguly Street to Bowbazar and then BBD Bagh, the state government asked the Metro authorities to divert the line because if the line went straight then the hawkers had to be evacuated and shifted to other locations which was not feasible.

A KMRC official said, “We had urged the state government not to change the route and mentioned that if the route got changed then it will be difficult to get funds, but the state government did not want to hear our views and the KMRC had to stick to the changed routes.”

The official added, “During the process of our work we came to know that the soil near Bowbazzar area was of poor quality and it was difficult to do the work. We will provide all the relevant details to the Ministry of Railways as early as possible.”

Bowbazar fiasco

On 3 September, two buildings collapsed in the Bowbazar area as the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) started digging in the area for East-West Metro project, overseen by Union Railway Ministry. A day after a few more buildings collapsed and developed cracks after the work started. The people were shifted to nearby hotels. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went to meet the residents and also convened a meeting with the the KMRC officials to devise ways to help those residents in distress. The residents were first offered Rs 5 lakh as compensation by the KMRC. The KMRC also assured that the lost homes of families. Till those are constructed people have been provided with alternative housing arrangements .

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