FPJ Special: Expressway tunnelling work on fast track

Mumbai: For the augmentation of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is undertaking construction work of a twin-tunnel and two new bridges. This is being done in a bid to connect the missing link and reduce the distance of expressway by six kilometres.

According to the latest development, 540 metres of work on the tunnel starting from Sinhagad Institute towards Mumbai has been completed. Similarly, 94 metres of work on another tunnel towards Pune has also been completed. Hence, a total of 634 metres of tunnelling work of the 10-km twin-tunnel is already done.

Augmentation of the expressway was necessitated following heavy traffic and landslides in the Ghat section, especially during the rainy season.

The four-lane tunnels will have 24 metres road width — widest in the world — giving sufficient place for movement of vehicles in case of a breakdown during an emergency situation. The tunnelling is being carried out using control-blasting technology. An official explained that since the Khandala ghat has basalt rock strata, the tunnelling work can be carried out without any danger. Moreover, cementing of roof of the tunnel is done to avoid any falling of loose rock or sand endangering life. A total of 200 labourers including engineers are on site undertaking the work. 

"Considering the speed, we are expecting the work to complete on time. Moreover, despite being carried out below the existing expressway, traffic movement has not been affected. The appointed contractors have efficiently planned the project execution work," said an official.

The missing link project work order was allotted in February 2019 by MSRDC to Afcons Infrastructure and the Hyderabad-based Navyuga Engineering at a cost of Rs 6,695 crore. The project is expected to be completed in 3 years (Feburary 2022) from the date of allotment of work. 

Of the entire estimated project cost, Rs 130 crore will be spent on fire safety measures and for equipment inside the tunnels. These include sprinklers and smoke detection alarms. "If there is a fire and until the fire brigade reaches the spot, we want such sprinklers which can automatically douse the fire," said the official.

This paper has reported earlier how over 5,500 trees spread on 83 hectares of forest land face the axe for the ‘missing link’ project on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The MSRDC, in lieu of the forest land to be cleared, will have to plant 40,000 trees on the unoccupied land of the Expressway. Moreover, they will look after these trees for five years. In addition, the authority giving an equal area of land in Jalna to the state forest department for which it has to pay Rs 25 lakh per hectare for carrying out afforestation. 

Highlights

*Augmentation of the Mumbai-Pune expressway was necessitated following heavy traffic and landslides in the Khandala Ghat section.

*over 5,500 trees spread on 83 hectares of forestland are axed for the ‘missing link’ project

Total Project cost- Rs 6,695 crore

*Afcons Infrastructure and the Hyderabad-based Navyuga Engineering is undertaking the civil work

*Project deadline February 2022

*Work order allotted in February 2019

*Twin tunnel of 10 km each

--1st tunnel towards Mumbai direction completed 540 metres of stretch

--2nd tunnel towards Pune direction completed 94 metres of stretch

*Rs 130 cr fire safety equipments like automatic sprinklers & smoke detection system will be installed in tunnel in case of fire incident

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