The starting of commercial operations, which was originally scheduled for June 2012 was later revised to December 2013. However, the deadline was extended to March 2014 and finally the latest deadline is now fixed at December 2014.
Success on its first Reach (Baiyappanahalli-MG Road) notwithstanding, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) appears to be lagging behind in the construction of the underground stretch, which forms an integral part of Phase-I.
The BMRCL, in its latest newsletter, stated that it had awarded the contract of the four-km underground stretch of the North-South Corridor to Tanstonnelsboy-Coastal JV.
Arrival of machines
On the North-South Corridor, BMRCL said: “Designs are in progress. Three earth pressure balanced (EPB) machines have been ordered, of which one is from Seli, Italy and two are from Herenknecht, China. They are expected to arrive in Bangalore by mid 2012.”
EPB machines are a type of tunnel boring machines (TBM). The machines employ a mechanised tunneling method in which the soil is allowed into the TBM via a screw conveyor arrangement that allows the pressure at the face of the TBM to remain balanced without the use of slurry.
This allows tunnelling of soft, wet or unstable ground. The method will facilitate tunnelling work near Chikpet, where experts opine that the groundwater level is slightly high.
However, with the machines expected to arrive only by June or July, 2012, experts believe that the BMRCL will not be in a position to meet the deadline.
M N Sreehari, Advisor to Government of Karnataka on Transport and Infrastructure said: “It looks rather unlikely that the work will be complete anytime before mid 2015 and the delays are resulting in an estimated loss of Rs 65 lakh per day.” Another expert said that the areas near Chikpet will be particularly challenging for the Corporation.
A challenging task
“While tunnel burrowing is generally a challenging task for anybody performing it for the first time, water levels at Chikpet and other demographic hurdles will make the task much harder,” he said.
Even if the BMRCL works in full swing and in an efficient manner, the chances of meeting the deadline is quite unlikely, said Sreehari.