Kolkata: Babul Supriyo, Union minister of state for heavy industries and public enterprises, on Monday, will enter the East-West Metro tunnel and reach the spot right under the river bed, where the tunnel boring machine is moving forward while constructing the tunnel. The prestigious Metro project is close to Supriyo’s heart. Even after he was shifted from the urban development to heavy industries, he sought special permission from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally supervise the work as union minister. He was granted the permission.
The Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation has geared up to greet the minister at the under-river tunnel. Significantly, Supriyo will be the first dignitary to reach the spot under the river. “The TBM movement has been smooth and precise. It has moved more than 30 metres since it entered the river bed. We have made expensive arrangements so that the machine does not require any major maintenance before it reaches the east bank of Hooghly,” said an official of Afcons-Transtonnelstroy, the construction agency for the tunnel work between Howrah Maidan and Mahakaran.
But the existence of mammoth tunnel under the river bed cannot be felt from the surface. Noise barriers may be constructed to cut noise levels. So, a man on a vessel or on the road cannot feel the train movement beneath. “Once completed, the East-West Metro will carry 9 lakh passengers a day,” said a KMRC officer. It integrates with Howrah station that witnesses major traffic of daily commuters from neighbouring districts and another major railway terminus Sealdah that brings daily passengers from North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Nadia.
A transport department officer said, “Had Mamata Banerjee not taken a personal interest to engage RITES for the study of alternative alignment, the project would have remained an unrealized dream.”