Wait for India’s 1st underwater metro tunnel gets longer

underwater metro- constrofacilitator

Wait for India’s 1st underwater metro tunnel gets longer as 1.1-km underground stretch collapses. Even as news of the Kolkata Metro’s plans to launch the country’s first underwater tunnel was being disseminated, the collapse of a 1.1-km-long underground stretch on the East-West Corridor has thrown the project timeline into disarray, with the target of 2021 for operationalization of services certain to be missed. Work on the other lines under construction, which together with the operational North-South Corridor and the East-West Corridor, were to ensure 100 km of Metro connectivity for the city by 2021, too has been facing issues.

The cave-in which occurred in the Bowbazar area on September 3 left more than 30 houses damaged, provoking an outcry, especially as the original route plan didn’t include Bowbazar because of its soil condition. The Kolkata High Court has since intervened to stop work. Experts called in from abroad have blamed an aquifer at the work site for the accident. “It will take nothing less than a year to clear the debris, stop soil liquification and stabilise the soil,” says an engineer on the condition of anonymity.

The highlight of the East-West Corridor from Salt Lake to Howrah (16.6 km) are the 520-m-long twin tunnels built 30 m below the Hooghly river bed. This underwater stretch is expected to provide commuters a unique experience, on the lines of the Eurostar that links the United Kingdom and France through a rail tunnel beneath the English Channel. The corridor will connect two iconic railway stations, Howrah and Sealdah, and run down the busy lanes of BBD Bagh, Central Avenue and Sector 5 of Salt Lake, West Bengal’s IT hub.

The delay caused by the accident, besides being bad news for a project that was running behind schedule and had seen costs rise from Rs 4,876 crore to Rs 8,997 crore, is going to prolong the commuting woes of a city that has a Metro length of just 28 km (North-South Corridor) despite being the first in India to get such a service in 1984. It was only in 2010 that new Metro links were planned by the state government. From the seven Metro alignments proposed, the authorities eventually settled for five links: East-West Corridor (16.6 km), Joka-BBD Bag (16.72 km), New Garia-Airport (32 km), Noapara-Airport (2.09 km), and Noapara-Dakshineswar (4.38 km).

For the New Garia-Airport link via Rajarhat, the costs were initially pegged at Rs 3,951.98 crore and the deadline for completion was 30 months from the start of construction in May-June 2014. While the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) is building the elevated portion of the link at a fast pace, construction of a maintenance depot at New Garia became an issue after local fishermen moved the National Green Tribunal.

On the Joka-BBD Bag link too, progress has been delayed. Although March 2016 was the original deadline, the project got stuck over land issues. Finally, there has been a decision on changing the alignment, with 2021 becoming the next target for completion of work even as some uncertainty persists. The Airport-Dakshineswar link was estimated to cost Rs 227.53 crore. While the Airport-Noapara stretch has been operational since 2013, work is yet to be completed on the 4.47-km stretch from Noapara to Dakshineswar which was expected to be ready by June 2019, even as project costs have jumped by 100%

Info- financial express