Kolkata, A 87-year-old woman, shifted to a hotel after her house got damaged during tunnelling work for the under-construction East-West Metro Railway project, died at a private hospital, with her family members on Wednesday blaming the poor lodging and food at the hotel for her demise.
Anjali Mallick, who had to leave her house on Sakrapara Lane in central Kolkata’s Bowbazar area twice for metro railway work, passed away on Tuesday night.
Seven days back, she was forced to move to a hotel for the second time as her house developed cracks after a tunnel boring machine hit an aquifer resulting in water and silt gushing in and triggering serious ground loss on several roads.
More than 50 buildings have developed cracks – seven of them including one on Monday collapsing – prompting the authorities to shift over 400 people inhabiting Durga Pituri Lane, Babu Ram Seal Lane, B.B. Ganguly Street, Sakrapara Lane and Gour De Lane to guest houses and hotels.
“The hotel room where she was accommodated was dark, without any ventilation. It has no windows. The food was too spicy, unsuitable for a person of her age. We think she could not adjust to such conditions. We repeatedly complained to the metro authorities. But nothing was done,” said a grieving relative.
Mallick had a left hip swelling and no other health issues. “She did not have ailments like blood sugar, blood pressure or thyroid which a person of her age normally has, said the relative.
Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited, the implementing agency of the 16.60-km project — a part of which constitutes India’s first under-river train line – said it has passed on instructions to ensure all shifted persons get at least the “minimum” facilities in the hotels and are given medical services whenever they need.
“Every death is tragic. We had shifted the people to various hotels. We have formed a number of committees to ensure they provide proper services. These panels are inspecting the hotels.
“Wherever we got complaints, the KMRCL management also carried out inspections. Our control centre is open round the clock. Whenever we get any information at the control centre, it is immediately looked into.
“We ensure the residents of the damaged buildings, now housed in hotels, will get the minimum facilities at least,” said a KMRCL official.
She said a clear directive has been given that if any medical services are needed, that has to be provided.
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 16.60 kms, 5.8 km is an elevated corridor and 10.8 km will run underground. The 520-metre twin tunnels under the river are part of the underground stretch.
Once commissioned, one would travel more than a 10-storied building below the water surface for almost half a kilometre across the 460 -metre-wide Hooghly.
The affected section — from Esplanade to Sealdah — is a 2.45 km stretch. The tunnel boring machine was about 600 metres from Sealdah when disaster struck.