After many false starts and an equal number of premature celebrations for it, there’s yet another start!
Exactly a year ago, work was said to have restarted after a gap of 2 years on the Howrah Maidan-Mahakaran section of the east-west line, but that soon fizzled out since the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation had not frozen the line’s alignment and land acquisition was not yet complete in the Bowbazar-BBD Bagh area. As such, the contractor of the section, the Afcons-Transtonnelstroy JV, refused to begin tunneling. Now with a new alignment chalked out & frozen in August and more importantly all agencies agreeing to it, workers have returned to the site after three & a half years! Their current task involves restarting the concrete mix plant for making tunnel segments and preparing the TBMs for tunneling.
As a reminder, the line’s underground section will now run from Howrah Maidan – Howrah – Lal Dighi (Mahakaran) – Esplanade – Mullick Square – Sealdah – Phoolbagan to Subhash Sarovar. The part that is left to be tunneled is shown below:
Note: The station at Raja Subodh Mullick square was proposed to be dropped, but I haven’t received any reliable confirmation.
Besides finalizing the alignment, the KMRC recently paid all dues to Afcons-Transtonnelstroy to provide enough assurance to them to restart work. The Indian Railways under Suresh Prabhu has also agreed to pay additional costs of Rs 765 crore that arose due to the realignment delays after meeting with Mamata Banerjee in August.
Approvals are still required from the Archaeological Survey of India and the Ministry of Defence for tunneling through BBD Bagh, but that’s not a show-stopper and should be given any time now.
Afcons-Transtonnelstroy had won the Howrah Maidan-Central tunneling contract in March 2010 with an original deadline of April 4 2014, but now that has been extended to June 2018. Whenever the first TBM is ready to begin tunneling, I’ll make sure to post about it, so do keep a tab on the Home Page of my site.
For more updates on Kolkata’s Metro, check out the Kolkata section of The Metro Rail Guy!