Mosmetrostroy saga: Chennai Metro Rail work resumes after AFCONS steps in

Chennai (MAS): Metro rail authorities have asked AFCONS Infrastructure, which is building tunnels under Poonamallee High Road, to take over the incomplete work on the tunnels under Anna Salai after Mosmetrostroy JV abandoned it recently.

Chennai Corporation had earlier asked Gammon, that had a tie-up with the Russian company, to complete the work abandoned by its JV partner. Officials wanted Gammon to hire tunnel technicians to continue the work. “AFCONS has started doing some emergency work like maintaining equipment and pressure of the boring machines as they have experience in tunnel work. We told them to step in temporarily to complete the work,” said a senior official of metro rail. AFCONS  has expertise in metro tunnels as they started off their metro projects by building tunnels in Kolkata.

He said that discussions were on with AFCONS to find out if they would be able to take over the work fully for Gammon. “They are assessing the quantity of work that will have to be done if they have to take over the abandoned work site and the unfinished line between LIC and Gemini,” he added. The move comes after Gammon said that it does not have the expertise to complete the tunnel work. “We do not want the work to get delayed if Gammon did not act on our instructions. The underground tunnel work is already behind schedule and with Mosmetrostroy abandoning the work will affect the schedules further. The priority is to get the work going rather than trying to pull up the contractors,” said an official.

Meanwhile, Gammon officials are hoping to hear from Mosmetrostroy and are waiting for metro rail to take a call on completing the rest of the tunnels that needs to be built.

“We have not received clear instructions from metro rail about continuing the work. They have to take a call. Metro rail has contacted the Russian consulate. We expect officials of the company to return as they have financial liability to fulfill,” said a official from Gammon.

The withdrawal of Mosmetrostroy has delayed the work. Pace of tunnel boring is unpredictable. It depends on the soil condition and the quality of buildings on the surface. It took five months for metro rail’s contractors to bore 2km of tunnels. At this pace, a break in the work will cause serious delay which is expected to push deadline for commissioning of metro rail line along Anna Salai by more than three years.