BJP blames Mamata for Metro disaster

Kolkata: A portion of the house in Bowbazar's Sakara para lane collapsed owing to tunnel boring for East-West Metro corridor in Kolkata on Sep 12, 2019.

Kolkata, The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday put the blame on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the Kolkata metro disaster, saying her stubbornness forced the railway authorities to change the originally planned route.

Meanwhile, the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited (KMRCL), the implementing agency of the 16.6 km long project connecting the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata, said there were no fears of any more subsidence.

More than 50 buildings have developed cracks — seven of them collapsing — after a tunnel boring machine hit an aquifer resulting in water and silt gushing in and triggering serious ground loss on several roads in central Kolkata’s Bowbazar area.

“Mamata Banerjee is solely responsible for the metro disaster. She forced the metro authorities to change the originally planned route to serve her own interests. It has triggered the present tragic situation, delayed the project, and led to cost escalation,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh told the media here.

Coming down heavily on Banerjee, Ghosh said: “On every issue, she muddles the water because of her stubbornness. This has created a terror-stricken atmosphere in Kolkata.”

Meanwhile, the family members of a 86-year-old man, Ganesh Prasad Gupta, who was forced to evacuate his damaged house in Sakrapara Lane on September 1 and died at a hospital two days back, alleged on Thursday that Gupta perished due to “shock” and “panic” after getting to know that the building had collapsed.

“His health condition was alright. But at 4 a.m. on September 1, the authorities ordered us to leave immediately. He was shocked and fell ill during the evacuation and was rushed to a hospital.

“He panicked again after watching on television from his hospital bed that the house has collapsed. He was worried what will happen to us, where we will stay. This tension led to heart attack and he passed away,” said the deceased person’s son Dilip Kumar Gupta.

A KMRCL official said that Gupta was indisposed at the time of evacuation and hence was hospitalised directly. “He had not been taken to any hotel,” the official said.

The KMRCL has shifted over 400 people staying in Durga Pituri Lane, Babu Ram Seal Lane, B.B. Ganguly Street, Sakrapara Lane and Gour De Lane to guest houses and hotels.

On Tuesday, an 87-year-old woman, who was shifted to a hotel, died at a private hospital, even as her family members blamed the poor lodging facility and food for her demise.

“There were no more ground losses. It seems there is no apprehension of any more subsidence,” a KMRCL official said.

The KMRCL has already given compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to 52 families affected by the disaster.

The project — technologically analogous to the Eurostar (connecting Paris and London) — bridges the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata, and has been planned to drastically cut down travel cost and time almost by an hour-and-a-half.

The Metro would run from Salt Lake’s Sector V, Kolkata’s IT hub, to Howrah Maidan. Out of the total 16.6 km, 5.8 km is an elevated corridor and 10.8 km will run underground. The 520 metre twin tunnels under the Hooghly river are part of the underground stretch.

The affected section — from Esplanade to Sealdah — is a 2.45 km stretch. The tunnel boring machine was about 600 metre from Sealdah when the disaster struck.