Tenants stay put despite Kolkata civic body pleas to vacate rickety homes
Mayor Firhad Hakim may have had ordered the demolition of extremely vulnerable buildings before monsoon as the structures might collapse, endangering the lives of the residents, KMC buildings department officials have been facing intense resistance from tenants. This, despite Hakim assuring that the tenants’ interests would be protected at all costs after evacuation.
Following mayor’s diktat, the buildings department started a survey of the highly condemned buildings early this week. Though the initial check in some central Kolkata localities revealed horrific pictures of families living in dangerous and crumbling structures, officials have been finding it an uphill task to vacate some of those structures to repair or raze them.
A KMC building department official, who looks after insecure buildings in large areas of central Kolkata, expressed helplessness in the face of tenants’ resistance. “I have been trying my best to convince some tenants to move out of their buildings as they might collapse during heavy rains. But so far, I have failed to motivate them. They do not wish to leave, fearing they would lose their share in the buildings,” the KMC official said. The official is worried about some of the extremely vulnerable buildings, especially after the recent collapse of an old house on Bentinck Street. “On several occasions in past two years I had asked the tenants in that building to vacate it and get portions repaired to make it habitable again. But all my appeals fell on deaf ears and one day, parts of the structure caved in,” he rued.