Kolkata: A first in India, the two 520-metre structures are part of a 10.8 km underground stretch and are crucial to the East-West Metro project.
The railway officials are quite optimist about the completion of this project. But there seems to be a hurdle being faced by the East West Metro Project. The threat is that the tunnelling work may pose to three heritage buildings in Kolkata. The Currency Building, an Italian structure that served as one of first banks of the country, and two 19th century Jewish monuments — the Maghen David Synagogue and the Beth-El Synagogue — stand close to the Metro tunnels.
As per the existing rules, construction and mining operations are prohibited within 100 meters of protected monuments — but the Currency Building is 24 metres away from the Metro’s alignment, and the Beth-El and Maghen David synagogues are at a distance of about 17 metres and 9.8 metres respectively.
After the issue was raised by the Archaeological Survey of India, an expert committee from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, was constituted to look into the matter. The committee said there would be no “ adverse affect” on the protected monuments.
Union Minister for State for Heavy Industries Babul Supriyo, who inspected the project, expressed hope that that the last hurdle would be cleared soon.
On April 14, a day considered auspicious in many parts of the country as it marks the beginning of New Year, a gigantic Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) began cutting deep inside the bed of the Hooghly river, commencing the construction of the first underwater metro tunnel in the country.
By the end of July, two tunnels running parallel will connect the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata located on either side of the Hooghly. The tunnels are being dug at a depth of 30 metres below the earth’s surface and 13 metres below the riverbed.
The twin tunnels, about 520 metres long, are crucial to the much-awaited Rs. 8,900 core East West Metro project that will connect Salt Lake Sector V in the eastern part of Kolkata to the Howrah Maidan across the river.
Of the 16.6 km East West Metro route, 5.8 km is on an elevated corridor and 10.8 km will run underground. The 520-metre tunnels under the river are part of the 10.8 km underground stretch.