Tunnelling work on the Metro route between Vellara Junction and Pottery Town, a 5.5-km stretch, is likely to suffer more delays as the Chinese personnel required for the task cannot enter India, which has announced temporary visa restrictions over coronavirus.
The Chinese team is needed for the assembly, deployment and operation of four tunnel boring machines (TBMs), made by China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Corporation Limited, at Metro construction sites. Two of the machines have arrived at the Chennai port and are expected to reach Bengaluru by mid-February. The other two are in transit and are likely to arrive in the city in March.
L&T, the contractor for the Vellara Junction-Pottery Town Metro stretch, had ordered these TBMs. They need to be assembled and lowered inside the shafts at Shivajinagar and Cantonment stations. “A team from the Chinese corporation will assemble and run the machines. The assembly job will take 15-20 days. But the team’s arrival might be delayed as India has imposed restrictions on entry of people from China in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak,” said an official of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL).
“We hope the situation normalises soon. Before beginning the drilling work, trial runs will be conducted to ensure the machines are working properly,” the official added.
But BMRCL managing director Ajay Seth said that there would be no major delays. “All four TBMs have been dispatched from China. We are not expecting any significant delay due to visa issues,” he said. The TBMs will tunnel 2.5 to 5 metres per day, depending on the geographical conditions they encounter. The planned tunnels are a part of the longest underground Metro section, 14km between Dairy Circle and Nagawara of the Pink Line.