Tunneling work for the 16.6 km-long East-West Metro corridor, which hit several hurdles over the last two years, has finally been completed, an official said here on Sunday. As one of the two tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) was
damaged beyond repair in an accident, work for the rapid transit system was finished just in time with the other one, hours before another COVID-induced state-wide lockdown kicked in, the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) official said.
TBM ‘Urvi’, which had earlier undertaken boring work for the east-bound tunnel — from Esplanade to Sealdah — was
pressed into service from after necessary refurbishment and inspection in January this year to carry out the pending work in the west-bound tunnel, joining Bowbazar with Sealdah.
The tunneling work was put on hold on August 31, 2019 after TBM ‘Chundee’ hit an aquifer, leading to severe ground
subsidence and collapse of buildings at Bowbazar area.
Construction activities resumed in February, 2020 only to get stalled again a month later due to the nationwide
lockdown. Work, however, restarted in June last year after relaxations were announced.
Prior to the accident, the two TBMs were working side by side, boring tunnels for the up and down lines of the
East-West Metro corridor.
According to the KMRC official, 10.8 km of the total 16.6-km project, which would be linking the twin cities of
Howrah and Kolkata, lies underground. Maintaining that the last lap of the tunnel drive, spanning 800 metres, turned out to be a daunting task amid the pandemic, the KMRC official said the TBM, after the “breakthrough", has been parked 22 metres below ground, inside the retrieval shaft at Bowbazar.
He also pointed out that work was carried out with strict adherence to all COVID-19 protocols.
The 4.88-km-long first phase of the corridor -connecting Sector V and Yuva Bharati Krirangan stations - got operational in February 2020.
Services were extended by another kilometre, till Phoolbagan station, in October.