Urban Railways

Pune Metro Work to begin despite Lockdown

Though the lockdown got more stringent across the Pune city, the work on the Pune Metro rail project, particularly along the riverbed is expected to begin next week. The move has been necessitated by the fact that the temporary road built by the authorities for the works will have to be removed before the onset of monsoons and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has accordingly asked Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MahaMetro) to get on with the work on priority.

The Metro route between Vanaz and Ramwadi will cross the Mula-Mutha river near Deccan and Sangam bridge, for which the construction of Metro pillars in the riverbed was undertaken by MahaMetro before the lockdown. To facilitate supply of construction material to the riverbed where the works were on, MahaMetro had constructed the temporary approach road, allowing containers to make their way to the site.

However, the work came to a halt with the announcement of the lockdown. MahaMetro was subsequently asked to remove the temporary road before the monsoon by PMC. “The road has to go as it can cause flash floods,” explained PMC commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad. Pursuant to this, with the state government telling local administrations to initiate work on the Metro projects, MahaMetro approached PMC, police department and the district administration for requisite permissions to complete the work before they remove the road.

“We made the road so our containers could reach the site. But now the fear is that if it remains it will impede the flow of water released from the dams. Appreciating the concern, we’ve requested that we get as much work on the riverbed done before removing the road. The civic body has acceded to our request,” Hemant Sonawane, general manager, public relations, MahaMetro (Pune) said.

“We’ve allowed them to do the work, under the circumstances. But they will now have to get a clearance from the police, as this means they will be working during the lockdown, when Pune has been identified as a containment zone,” Gaikwad added. While they’ve garnered the green signal from the civic authorities, MahaMetro is staring at several logistic issues that they have to overcome to complete the work.

“The permission comes with conditions of social distancing to be maintained at the worksite. We are chalking out the plan on how to keep to this mandate on the ground. Every day, we will have to bring our workers from labour camps to the worksite. While doing so, we will have to ensure that they are not straying to the other parts of the city, still under lockdown,” Sonawane informed.

Beyond this work discipline called for, the road ahead is fraught with other stumbling blocks. “We will be dealing with the challenge of procuring raw materials such as steel and cement. They are usually sourced from other states. We’re not sure how we will manage that under, the lockdown situation. For now, we will get started with the material available with us and the work will resume next week,” the spokesperson said.