At least another year will be needed for the completion of the entire East-West Metro line, officials at the helm of the project said on the day the Sealdah station of the corridor was unveiled.
Railway officials said although most of the work between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade stations was complete and finishing touches were being given, the stretch between Sealdah and Esplanade remains the problem area because of an accident on May 11.
That day, construction work under the Howrah-bound tunnel led to leakage of underground water, which in turn caused subsidence and cracks in buildings near Bowbazar on May 11.
Over 150 residents had to be shifted. The accident — a near rerun of a similar tragedy in 2019 — dealt a major jolt to the project.
“More than one month is likely to be spent grouting the shaft under which the May 11 accident took place,” said an engineer of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), implementing agency of the East-West corridor.
Before May 11, the revised deadline of the project was January 2023. Now it has been pushed back to July 2023, said an official.
“We are in the process of grouting the shaft area at Bowbazar as an additional safeguard. It is a slow process. That will take over one month. After the grouting is complete, we will start removal of the huge pile of concrete that was used to plug the seepage,” the engineer said.
A concrete mass of over 220 cubic metres and spanning 10 metres in length was used to plug water nearly 22 metres below the surface of Durga Pituri Lane when it started leaking on the night of May 11.
“Along with leakage, a lot of soil was also lost. The deep grouting is to compensate for the soil loss and prevent any untoward incident,” he said.
Unless the mass is removed, the construction of another concrete structure to fill a yawning gap cannot be started, said engineers.
The shaft was 38 metres in length. Construction of 29 metres had been completed when the May 11 accident happened.
“After the concrete mass is removed, the construction of the remaining 9 metres will start. The base slab will be cast first, the side walls next and the roof at the end,” said an official of KMRC.
Sources in the agency said trial runs on the Salt Lake-bound tunnel are expected to start by November.
“We expect the entire corridor to be ready by June-July 2023. After that, an inspection by the commissioner of railway safety will be needed before the commercial runs start,” said an official.
The tracks have been laid on the entire stretch in the Salt Lake-bound tunnel. In the Howrah-bound tunnel, a 2.45-km stretch between Sealdah and Esplanade does not have tracks.
“We were planning trial runs on the entire stretch together from July. But the accident postponed everything. Now, we want to start trial runs in the Salt Lake-bound tunnel by November,” said the engineer.
The laying of tracks in the remaining section is expected to take a couple of months, he added.
Suicide in Metro, services disrupted
Metro services were disrupted for close to an hour on Monday afternoon after a woman jumped in front of a train at Girish Park station.
She was declared dead by doctors at the hospital.
“The driver applied the emergency brakes immediately but it was too late,” a Metro official said.
The woman was standing on the platform for New Garia-bound trains. She jumped in front of a train around 12.30pm, the official added.
The services were disrupted from 12.35pm to 1.20pm, he said.
The passengers were asked to evacuate the train before it was moved back to retrieve the woman.
A power block had to be taken.
The deceased woman was identified as Niva Sen, 57, a resident of Shib Krishna Daw Lane.
“She was under neurological treatment for the past 10 years,” a police officer said.