Calcutta High Court directs KMRCL to stop tunnel-boring work


The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed KMRCL to suspend its underground construction till further orders.

The KMRCL told the Calcutta HC that it had already stopped the underground construction for East West Metro corridor, following Sunday’s damage to several houses in central Kolkata during a tunnel-boring work. Several buildings in the congested Bowbazar area have developed cracks.

Admitting that at least five houses had collapsed owing to ground settlement from seepage after a tunnel-boring machine hit water table, the KMRCL counsel told a division bench presided by Chief Justice T B N Radhakrishnan that the work will start only after getting the court’s nod.

At least 323 residents of these damaged houses were shifted to hotels, KMRCL lawyer Jishnu Saha told the bench, adding that all the affected and collapsed buildings will be repaired or reconstructed by the Metro Railway authority.

He further submitted that the businessmen and workers who had lost their livelihood owing to the damage will be rehabilitated.

Hearing a PIL by an NGO, that works for environment, seeking termination of underground drilling for metro tunnels in congested areas, the division bench, also comprising Justice Arijit Banerjee, directed the KMRCL to apprise it of the developments in arresting further ground settlement and damage to buildings by September 16.

The court also asked the advocate general to make sure that the state government and civic authorities extend all cooperation in dealing with the situation and ensuring that the affected people are taken care of.

The PIL has also challenged the provisions of Metro Railway (Construction of Works) Act, 1978.

“Metro authorities accepted that they did not expect that the ground would destabilise during their work. (The) HC stated that the work should be suspended till further orders. It also issued orders that one member from each of the affected families, escorted by the Metro authorities and others, be allowed to collect valuables from their houses,” said Riju Ghosal, advocate for the petitioners.

Meanwhile, the KMRCL lawyer told the bench that the work for 9.8 km of the 10.9-km-long underground tunnel was completed for the East West Metro.