Free Press Journal

Mumbai: First glimpse of the inside of Metro tunnel


Mumbai: Amid opposition and concerns raised by citizens, tunnelling work for the city’s first underground Metro III (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ) line has begun. The entire tunnelling work of the 33.5 km line is expected to be completed by 2019. While in Aarey Colony, the same project is facing opposition as the Tree Authority of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has still not given a nod for the proposal for felling of 444 trees.

A walk down the Naya Nagar site on Friday revealed a display of the tunnel boring machines (TBM) which have begun the work of cutting through the earth. The excavation site, 25 metres below the ground surface underground, consisted of two TBMs which were cutting the basalt rocks.

At such a depth, the temperature was low and all the workers were provided with necessary ventilation, safety measures, precautions and emergency help. The tunnel which has just begun will be created from Naya Nagar at Mahim to Dadar which is approximately 2.15 km. A worker said, “We have just begun tunnelling work and soon the entire machine will go underground.” Everyday a tunnel of 8 to 14 metres will be created at various sites as 17 TBMs will work simultaneously to construct this metro line. Two TBMs have been lowered where one machine has been assembled.”

The entire tunnelling work for this project is expected to be completed by 2019 as per the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC). Ashwini Bhide, Managing Director of MMRC, said, “We aim to complete tunnelling work for the entire Metro III line by 2019. Out of 17 TBMs, five have arrived in Mumbai and the remaining will arrive by March. Presence of basalt rocks and absence of alternative roads in Mumbai create obstacles in the way of construction of an underground metro line.”

While the project is progressing at Mahim, it is experiencing a halt at Aarey Colony in the Western suburbs. Citizens and environmentalists approached the Tree Authority of the BMC opposing the proposal for felling of 444 trees at Aarey Colony due to this project. Activist Zoru Bhathena said, “We have already witnessed environmental damage due to the construction of this metro line. We have raised our concerns and issues before the civic body.”

The Tree Authority of the civic body will send all objections raised by the citizens in writing to MMRC to get their response.