Sixteen houses in the Bowbazar area in central Kolkata have been identified as crumbling and need to be pulled down immediately. A large number of houses have been affected because of the underground tunnelling taking place for East-West Metro corridor.
On August 31 a house had caved in and several others developed cracks.
Though the Metro and the PWD department had initially identified five houses which were in a precarious condition and needed to be pulled down, the number is on the rise with more and more houses in three to four neighbourhoods of central Kolkata developing dangerous cracks.
Even as the five houses were being demolished, a sixth one in an adjacent locality collapsed on Tuesday.
Panic has set in in the area with people anxious to leave.
About 116 families and 600 people have been evacuated from the area and have been lodged in 20 hotels. The Metro Rail authorities are bearing the cost as well as other expenses of relocation. Moreover, it is also paying Rs 5 lakh to each of the affected families as interim compensation.
The government and Metro had allowed members of the affected families to visit their houses for 10 minutes for collecting their documents. In some cases, people had to be literally lifted on cranes and fire ladders had were used to reach rooms where almirahs containing documents were placed.
Meanwhile, this area is a hub of gold jewellery shops and business has been hit. Twenty-five gold jewellery-making units falling within this zone were forcibly closed. According to a jewellery shop owner, each of the factories and shops has kilos of gold in terms of ornaments, and gold bars and biscuits. It is likely to have a tremendous effect on the gold market, if unrecovered. Moreover, 350 people employed in the gold showrooms are out of their jobs.