The coronavirus pandemic along with simmering tensions at the India-China border has resulted in the tunnelling work for the underground portion of Mumbai's coastal road getting stalled. The elements of the tunnel boring machine (TBM), which were imported from China in April, have remained at the site at Priyadarshini Park, waiting to be put together by experts from China, The Times of India reported.
Notably, the TBM is touted to be the biggest ever to be utilised in a project in India. Meanwhile, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), the coastal road's contractor is attempting to muster Chinese engineers who came to India earlier to work on the Mumbai and Bangalore Metro railway systems.
In the wake of increasing border tensions between the two countries, there are growing calls in India to shun Chinese products. Experts maintain that infrastructure projects of such a scale in Mumbai as well as in India are greatly dependent on Chinese heavy machinery and demands for boycotting Chinese products would be detrimental for such projects, the report added.
India's biggest TBM requires putting together 100 components and will take two months to assemble the tunnel boring machine's elements at the site at Priyadarshini Park. BMC officials told the publication that unless Chinese engineers are permitted to operate and test the equipment, the project will see more delays. The official said that in view of the India-China border tensions, L&T, the contractor has not been able to procure clearances for engineers from the Chinese manufacturer to arrive in Mumbai. However, Chinese engineers who are working on the TBMs being utilised in Metro 3 and the Bangalore Metro can assist in putting together the coastal roads because of its similarities with the Metro TBMs, the official added
“After the machine is assembled, we need to test it to start the actual work. But even for that we need engineers from the Chinese company that manufactured the machine. It was tested in China in December 2019, before being dismantled for shipping to India, but a test needs to be done again after it is assembled,” the official was quoted as saying.