New set of cracks appeared in buildings in Bowbazar today where portions of two buildings had collapsed yesterday due to East-West metro tunnel boring works while 18 other structures were severely affected with wide cracks, leading the police to evacuate the area and shift the evacuees in city hotels. Several of the families in the area today packed their belongings to shift out of their residences. Panic gripped residents of Hidaram Banerjee Lane and Gouri Dey Lane today morning, where cracks appeared on the walls of some of the buildings.

Many families packed their belongings to shift out of the affected buildings. Some of the structures in the area have also inclined, posing a risk of collapse. Portions of two buildings at Durga Pituri lane in Bowbazar, yesterday collapsed while buildings in adjacent Syakra Para lane, stand with cracks on the walls. Residents in the area testified that the cracks began appearing from the evening of 31 August. One of the houses was seen tilting to a precarious condition in Hidaram Banerjee Lane, today, with chunks falling on the streets from one side of the building. Some of the iron beams that were installed later for support were bent and twisted, disturbing the balance of the whole structure.

The evacuated residents, who had to leave their residences in a jiffy, without having anytime to collect their necessary belongings, including important documents, echoed the same set of complaints against metro authorities, “Why didn’t the metro authorities inform us and conduct tests before running the tunnel boring machine? Had the work been done at night and the houses had collapsed then, instead of in the afternoon on 1 September, one cannot imagine what would have happened to the occupants of the respective houses,” said an affected resident, who was lodged at a city hotel yesterday for the time being.

KMC mayor and state urban development minister, Firhad Hakim, has said “The evacuees have been lodged in the city hotels, temporarily. Later, they will be again shifted to temporary flats before being allotted permanent residences in the same place where their houses stood or at some other place. The metro authorities will have to conduct a soil test first to ensure that another structure can be built in the same place where the affected building stood. KMC certified experts will then have to be approached for clearance before any sanction is issued for the construction of the building. Following which, it may take six months to one year for building the entire structure.”

The Trinamul MLA, Tapas Roy, who resides in Bowbazar, today, said “New set of cracks have appeared today. However, these are external ones. Who knows how many cracks are forming inside the structures. A total of 18 affected houses have been evacuated but the structures are standing in a precarious position. The metro authorities or the agencies concerned for the project should have dropped some intimation or a forewarning which could have earned the affected residents some time to prepare rather than be caught-off guard, as it happened.” Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has opened control rooms in the area to register complaints from residents who have observed cracks on their buildings. They have also put up five pickets and opened a special control room. The team responsible for the night shift will work under the assistance commissioner of Police.