North Chennai Metro Rail Project to Miss June Deadline

The nine-kilometre metro rail line in North Chennai, which was planned for a June 2020 opening, will miss the deadline by a few more months. The work has slowed down after hitting several roadblocks, the recent one being a contract worker testing positive for Covid-19 putting many others in the workers camp at risk.

Construction work has been stalled for more than a month now due to the nationwide lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus. The fact that North Chennai has many containment zones is also a factor. CMRL officials had earlier expected a two-month delay because of the shutdown. Now, the delay is expected to be prolonged even further.

With a contract worker, who was involved in the construction of the 9km phase-1 extension line from Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar and staying in a workers’ camp at Sivananda Salai, testing positive for Covid-19 on Sunday (3rd May 2020), metro rail officials said they have put in additional measures to protect the other workers at the camp.

The camp has nearly 150 workers, who are confined to their shelters, as work at the site was stopped after the lockdown. “We are coordinating with the corporation and the health department officials and are taking adequate measures to protect others at the camp,” said an official.

Irrespective of the ease in lockdown to start metro construction work, officials said they are unsure about when the construction work will resume as many parts of north Chennai have been closed due to several Covid-19 cases being reported. The project received its first jolt when many countries, from where equipment were expected to be imported, went under lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus.

CMRL officials said they were expecting several components, including those required for the platform screen doors, to arrive from countries in Europe and China. While work on the extension line is delayed, CMRL has also pushed the dates for opening of tenders to award construction contract for the 118.9 km phase-2 till July.

The contracts were to be awarded by mid-2020 and construction was expected to start soon after. “We have floated international tenders. We cannot expect companies to bid now given the current situation. So we have extended the dates,” an official said.

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