A square shaft 25-metre below the ground level is ready near Jedhe Chowk for the Maha-Metro to lower the tunnel boring machines and start the tunnelling work from the Swargate side of the underground Metro route of Pune Metro.
“The agency appointed for digging of the shaft has completed the work and the site has now been handed over to the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MahaMetro). Now, the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be lowered to initiate the tunneling work,” a MahaMetro official said.
The MahaMetro has already dug around 1km-long Metro tunnel from the Agriculture college side of the route, where Swargate would be the end station. The authority has planned digging of the underground tunnel from both ends, Agriculture College and Swargate, for the faster execution of the project. The TBMs from both ends are expected to meet around Mandai or the Budhwar Peth area.
However, before lowering the TBMs at Swargate, the MahaMetro has initiated a study on two options, whether to begin the work by lowering TBMs for boring of tunnels or to complete the work of Swargate underground Metro station first. A senior MahaMetro official attributed the reason for the study to the proximity of the Swargate underground station to the existing shaft.
“The MahaMetro is checking how to go ahead with the work. While tunnelling is being done with the help of TBMs, for construction of stations, we are exploring an option of New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM), which is construction of a tunnel with the use of controlled blasting without TBMs. NATM is an advanced method and it can save time and efforts,” the official said.
The MahaMetro said it would finalize the plan after reviewing both the options. The work of preparing the shaft at Swargate was under way since last year at a plot handed over by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to the MahaMetro. The tunnelling work from Swargate will proceed towards Mandai, which is the next underground station after Swargate.