Contrasting tales are playing out in what is the biggest public transportation project undertaken in Kolkata. On one end of the under-construction east-west metro line, an engineering marvel in the shape of India’s first underwater metro tunnel is reaching completion. On the other, more than 70 houses developed cracks and several have collapsed due to the shoddy underground tunneling work in the historical area of Bowbazar. The tunnel-boring machine hit an aquifer, loosening the soil above which disturbed the foundations of residential and commercial structures, some of which are century-old. Authorities had to rescue hundreds of occupants, and relocate them to safer areas. This delay could cost the government an additional Rs.10 billion to an already expensive project cost of Rs.85.75 billion. And that’s just conservative estimates. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s announcement of compensation for Rs.500,000 per family will also be footed by the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation and the company contracted for the Esplanade-Sealdah stretch.
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