BY BAPPADITYA PAUL
IT was in 1984 that Kolkata had gifted India the country’s first Metro railway. Now, 33 years down the line, the City of Joy has added another first to India’s urban transportation landscape.
The public sector Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Ltd today, 14 April 2017, commenced work on digging up under river Metro rail tunnels that will connect Howrah to Salt Lake via north Kolkata.
The 520 metre long twin river tunnels, passing under the Hooghly river, are part of East-West Metro Corridor that KMRCL is constructing since 2009. The 16.55 km Metro corridor is to run from Salt Lake Sector-V to Howrah Maidan.
Today morning, KMRCL organised a puja at Ramkrishnapur Ghat located opposite to Howrah railway station on Hooghly river bank, seeking blessings of the river God. Following this, a tunnel boring machine ceremoniously began the tunnelling work.
“This is happening for the first time in the country. We have made all necessary arrangements to ensure safety of our workers and complete the task smoothly,” project manager Virendra Kaul said.
The proposed tunnels will be dug about 90 feet or 18 metres below the Hooghly river. They will run from below Howrah station post office at Howrah station-end, to Armenian Ghat, at Kolkata-end, about a 1-km away from the business hub Burrabazar.
Of the two underwater tunnels, one is for Howrah-bound Metro trains; the other is for Salt Lake-bound trains. KMRCL officials said that 250 workers will be working on the tunnels on a daily basis.
The target is to place 10 concrete rings a day, each of which measures 1.5 metres. Project engineers said that at this rate they should be able to complete the 520 metre twin tunnels in the next three months, that is, by end June.
Once this happens, Kolkata would have added yet another feather to its glory. People, however, shall have to wait at least until 2020 to ride a Metro train passing below the Hooghly river.
KMRCL has plans to throw open a near 7 km stretch from Salt Lake to Phoolbagan, off Sealdah station, by end 2018. The stretch between Phoolbagan to Howrah Maidan via Sealdah shall have to wait for the work to get completed.