Two years after they were displaced from their homes and turned refugees overnight, several residents of Bowbazar are still awaiting the day when they would be able to return to their houses that once stood tall against all odds for decades or even centuries, before being razed to the ground.
On the intervening night of 31 August and 1 September 2019, the Tunnel Boring Machine(TBM), Chandi had accidentally hit an aquifer and water along with sludge started gushing into the tunnel. Consequently, gaps developed in the soil layers above it and the surface.
The TBM was blinded by the gushing water of the aquifer flowing into the tunnel leading to subsidence of the ground making several structures collapse like a house of cards. Of the 70 odd structures that had felt the impact of the ground subsidence, 27 were damaged beyond repair and had to be demolished.
The residents living in those buildings were evacuated and shifted to the city hotels and later accommodated in rented flats. The evacuees, since then, have been living there by paying rent, a share of which is being borne by the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited.
However, even after two years, the affected families are spending days in the dark, uncertain of their future. They are still worried about whether they ever will be able to get back to their houses which were bought with the savings.
“Two years have passed but we are still living the same kind of life in rented accommodations,” said doctor K. K. Boral. “It was communicated to us by Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited (KMRCL), that we would be able to shift to our home at Bowbazar in June but that also has passed and there are no such signs,” he added.
According to sources in KMRCL, the work on retrieval of the redundant TBM is going on and the giant borer is yet to be taken out of the tunnel. Construction of the demolished structures at the site of the mishap will start once the TBM Chandi is taken out of the ground.