Heavy Tunnel boring machine to start underground operations near Kempegowda Underground station area

Bangalore (SBC): The much-awaited vital machine part from Italy for Namma Metro has finally reached Bengaluru. After a nearly one-year lull in the operations, a mammoth machine that was waiting for this part will start underground operations near the Kempegowda Underground station area (formerly Majestic station) shortly.

This tunnelling work is crucial to complete the ongoing work in the 24.2-km Green Line of the Metro from Nagasandra in the north to Puttenahalli in the south.

The cutter head for the tunnel boring machine ‘Godavari’, reached the capital city two days ago on a trailer truck from Chennai, Pradeep Singh Kharola, Managing Director, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, told. The vital component had reached Chennai harbour a fortnight ago from Italy, he added.

“The 70-tonne cutter head was transported as two pieces, each weighing 35 tonnes,” Kharola said. It now needs to be attached to the 450-tonne Godavari.

In July 2014, Godavari was boring 60 feet under the ground to drill a tunnel from Mantri Square Sampige Road Metro Station to Kempegowda station when this component rammed into hard rocks near Lakshmanapuri slums and developed massive cracks. Godavari had completed a 350-metre stretch,  and 615 metres remained to be completed, an official said.

The new part, costing around Rs.5 crore, had to be imported from Palmeiri company in Italy as the cutter head from the other three tunnel boring machines — Krishna, Cauvery and Margarita — did not match Godavari. The cost for the spare part is borne by underground tunnel contractor M/s Coastal-TTS.

Godavari was originally supposed to restart tunnelling by February-end, but the shipment could not be procured from Italy on time due to winter storms in Europe. Finally, it took till the end of February just for the shipment to be despatched.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday had made a reference to stopping the work in the tunnel.

Since the work in the tunnel was causing a huge delay in completing Phase-I of Metro, Siddaramaiah suggested that the work be stopped and the deadline be pushed to March 2016.

Shaft Getting Ready: Kharola said that the broken cutter head has to be extricated from the machine first. “A shaft (passageway) is now being readied to reach the machine stationed underground to remove the damaged part. After removing it, the new cutter will be fitted onto it.” It could take a minimum of 15 days for the shaft to be put in place and then the  cutter head would be transported, he said.