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Plea for Metro work

One of the boring machines had hit an aquifer under Bowbazar on August 31 night, triggering widespread subsidence
An East-West metro railways tunnel

Our Legal Reporter   |   Calcutta   |   Published 16.12.19, 08:12 PM

The East-West Metro authorities on Monday prayed before the high court for permission to resume tunnel-boring work between Bowbazar and Sealdah, which stopped after one of the two boring machines had run into a giant aquifer on August 31.

The Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), the implementing agency of the project, submitted before the division bench headed by Chief Justice T.B.N. Radhakrishnan that they were ready to operate the other tunnel-boring machine.

After hearing the verbal plea, the bench asked the KMRC to apply for the request in writing through a petition, to be filed on Friday along with the report of a technical committee on the feasibility of operating the tunnel-boring machine.

The 16.5km East-West Metro corridor will stretch between Sector V and Howrah Maidan, part of which will be under the Hooghly river.

One of the boring machines had hit an aquifer under Bowbazar on August 31 night, triggering widespread subsidence. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated as buildings across a large area developed cracks.

The machine that was boring the other tunnel was under Nirmal Chunder Street, not far from the subsidence zone, when the mishap struck.

KMRC had told the court that it stopped work after the mishap and would resume it with the court’s permission.

Appearing for KMRC, advocate Ranjan Bachwat on Monday submitted that the expert committee set up by his client had given its nod for resuming tunnel-boring work.

“KMRC needs permission from the court to resume work,” Bachwat said.

The plea was made during the hearing of a public interest litigation moved by an NGO, Paribesh Academy, in mid-August. The petitioner had expressed the fear that buildings in Bowbazar could suffer damage because of the tunnel-boring work.

After hearing KMRC’s plea, advocate Ritzu Ghosal, who appeared for the NGO, submitted that the experts’ report should be examined by the court before the agency was allowed to resume work.

“Who will take the responsibility if the same incident occurs after the resumption of project work? Safety and security of Bowbazar residents should first be assured by KMRC,” Ghosal submitted.

The experts have suggested that the machine under Nirmal Chunder Street be allowed to bore the tunnel till Sealdah, where it would make a U-turn and start digging the other tunnel.

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