Latest East-West Metro Subsidence Will Lead To Cost Escalation But No Action Yet Against Implementing Agency

Kolkata, May 18 : The Latest round of Subsidence, endangering human life and causing severe damage to property due to underground activity being carried out by Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) for the city’s East-West Metro Corridor in the Bowbazar area of Kolkata, will not only set back the time schedule but also increase the project cost.

 Latest East-west Metro Subsidence Will Lead To Cost Escalation But No Action Yet Against Implementing

A senior Metro Railway official said that there could be a cost escalation of several hundred crores.Affected families have already been shifted to hotels and several houses will have to be demolished and rebuilt.

“I wonder how such a thing could occur again.About three years ago, in 2019, there was major Subsidence in the area (primarily Durga Pituri Lane and Syankra Para Lane), following which the cost escalation was more than Rs 900 crore.More funds will be sought for the project after the Latest incident.There is no accountability.Ideally, heads should have rolled for such shoddy work and the inability to make amends after the first incident,” a senior Metro Railway official said.

While KMRC is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) involved in construction of the project, operations are to be handled by Metro Railway.The general manager of Metro Railway is also the de-facto chairman of KMRC.

Afcons Infrastructure is the Agency engaged by KMRC to complete this underground stretch between Howrah Maidan and Sealdah.

While tunnel boring machines (TBMs) work underground, a control room monitors their progress and checks for any hurdles along the way.In 2019, a TBM on its way to Sealdah, smashed into a water pocket, causing severe subsidence.Ideally, the control room should have issued a warning before the TBM breached the wall.

“Unfortunately, no action seems to have been taken against this company after the major crisis in 2019.This year, they were attempting to retrieve their damaged TBM when a wall was breached and water started flowing in.This resulted in the Subsidence and damage to property.I don’t know why remote sensing was not undertaken along the route to find out faults and obstructions.

The tunnels are not so deep as to disallow this technology that is now readily available,” another Metro Railway official said.

While the going was good, there would be regular communication from Afcons Infrastructure to the media on the day to day progress.

Once the Bowbazar disaster occurred, Afcons fell silent, leaving it to KMRC officials to bear responsibility.

While Metro Railway general manager and KMRC chairman Arun Arora was not reachable, Protyush Ghosh, DGMG and secretary to the GM, Metro Railway, said: “All queries on this subject will be answered by KMRC.Our GM has already said that the matter is being probed.”

Arora, while speaking to the media after the Latest round of Subsidence in Bowbazar, made no mention of Afcons or whether the company should be penalised for repeated incidents of the same nature.

All that he said was that all aspects are being checked and expert opinion has also been sought from IIT, Roorkee.

All efforts to reach Afcons for an official comment also failed with engineers at the site remained tight-lipped.

Meanwhile, a lot of whispers are travelling down the corridors of Metro Rail Bhavan in Kolkata as to why this Agency is being let off so easily.


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