KOLKATA: Political blame game started as fresh cracks appeared in a number of buildings at the congested Bowbazar area in central Kolkata on Friday, just after a gap of five months arguably because of the boring work in the adjacent underground tunnel for Kolkata East-West Metro Railways.
On one hand, state government and ruling Trinamool Congress has blamed Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRCL), claiming that a hackneyed approach on part of the latter in implementing the project is resulting in such consecutive disasters which started since 2019.
On the other hand, opposition parties have claimed that the consecutive mishaps on this count had been essentially because of the decision to shift the route of the underground tunnel in 2012 following the continuous insistence of state government and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
They said underground tunnel is supposed to connect Esplanade with Sealdah, thus connecting the new Metro route with the original one.
On Friday, Kolkata Municipal Corporation mayor and state Municipal Affairs & Urban Development Minister, Firhad Hakim, visited the area where the houses developed cracks resulting in temporary displacement of 142 persons. Speaking to the media persons there, he said that the KMRCL is somehow managing the task in a fill-in-the- blank process which is resulting in frequent occurrence of cracks in the houses.
"A solution cannot be achieved in this manner. The ideal solution is that the houses are re-built after the underground tunnel work is complete. But the KMRCL officials who are in charge here do not have the authority to take any decision on this count. The decision has to come from the Railways Board level," Hakim said.
However, CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member, Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya, who is a former mayor of the erstwhile Left Front-controlled Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) board, said that neither the KMC nor KMRCL can be blamed for the repeated development of cracks.
"The originally planned route for the underground was objected to by Mamata Banerjee on grounds that it would have meant displacement of some shops and trading establishments there. Initially, the Union government and KMRCL authorities were not willing to change the route. But following continuous insistence on her part, the Union government ultimately agreed to change the route. And the changed route was shifted through the stretch which is extremely congested and has several old houses which are over two centuries old," he explained.