KOLKATA: With at least 52 buildings in Bowbazar developing cracks after a tunnel boring machine of the ongoing East-West Metro project hit a water pocket, residents were given barely 10 to 15 minutes to collect their valuables and leave the premises where they had been living for decades.
Anindita Dey, an employee of PricewaterhouseCoopers, had to leave behind everything, including the Banarasi (sari) that she was to wear on her wedding day scheduled in December. "It is less than three months to my wedding and we have become homeless overnight. Police did not even give us time to collect our clothes and other valuables," she said.
Anindita is among the 500-odd residents of Durga Pituri Lane and Syakrapara Lane off BB Ganguly Street in Bowbazar who have been left homeless. She is living with her parents in a hotel near the Sealdah railway station for the past four nights.
"I am sure the wedding cannot be held in this small hotel room. Our 250-year-old house has not yet caved in. We were evacuated on precautionary grounds. I don’t know what will happen and how we will arrange everything for my daughter’s marriage if our house is pulled down,’’ said Anindita’s mother.
Jayanta Sil, one of Anindita’s neighbours, also had to vacate his house. "My daughter Trisha’s wedding is scheduled in January. We are living in a hotel and spending restless nights. I have no idea how to deal with the situation," said Jayanta.
Piyali Sen’s house on Syakrapara Lane has developed deep cracks. "I could not take out my valuables on Monday when I had to leave the house. I requested the police repeatedly and they gave me 10 minutes to enter my house, pick up clothes and other valuables and leave. I had to wear a helmet and policemen accompanied me. When I entered the ground floor of the building, I saw the floor had caved in and a deep crack on the wall just above the door. The policemen told me they would not let me inside for more than five minutes. I collected some clothes and came out,’’ said the homemaker who is also living in a Sealdah hotel.
At least 70 families have been staying in hotels in central Kolkata for the past four days. "If the buildings cannot be reconstructed, I don’t know what will be the fate of my family. The state government is assuring us of rehabilitation. I work as a goldsmith in Bowbazar. What will I do if I am given a house in some other part of the city or on the outskirts?’’ asked Shantanu Karmakar.
Many residents of the damaged buildings have assembled at Bowbazar near the affected site, waiting for a nod from the police to enter their houses and pick up some more valuables before they cave in.