After a series of setbacks, BMC finally kickstarted the tunnelling works for its ambitious Coastal Road Project (CRP) from the Priyadarshini Park (PDP) launch site on Monday.
For carrying out the digging works, BMC has procured the nation’s largest Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) and has named it 'Mavala'. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray inaugurated the TBM on Monday after performing a 'Bhoomi Poojan'. State minister Aaditya Thackeray was also present along with municipal chief Iqbal Singh Chahal and additional municipal commissioner Ashwini Bhide.
The tunnelling works was supposed to start by mid-2020 however the project was delayed amid the pandemic outbreak. The civic body has set up a June 2023 deadline for completion of the CRP, senior officials of the civic body on Monday stated they are planning to complete the tunnelling works by mid-2022. The TBM will be used to dig a 3.45 KM long tunnel between PDP and Girgaon Chowpatty, which would run partially under the sea.
There will be two lanes for north and south bound traffic and each lane will be 3.5 metre wide. For each lane, two separate tunnels will be excavated. Alongside the regular lanes one emergency lane will also be constructed.
“The TBM will dig the tunnel from PDP till Girgaon, after that the machine will be taken out and then it will again be brought back to PDP as we would start digging the second Tunnel parallelly from Girgaon,” said Vijay S Nighot, chief engineer Coastal Road project.
"Digging of each tunnel would take us around eight to nine months and we plan to complete the tunnelling by mid-2022" the official added.
The tunnel will be part of a 10 km CRP stretch that would join PDP with the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli sea link. The tunnel will go 75 metres below the surface at Malabar Hill and 25 metres below the surface at Girgaon.
The TBM approximately weighs around 1,500 megatons and it has been transferred to the launch site using a 200-wheel propeller. The machine was brought to India in May 2020, due to its large size it was dismantled in smaller parts and was brought to the launch site in 17 trucks.
BMC sources said that amid the border tension, no Chinese expert will be involved in the project and the sole responsibility of managing the machine has been given to the engineers of the civic body.