After blasting through five lakh cubic metres or 62,500 truckloads of hard rock, Indian engineers managed to create history on Thursday by drilling to the other end of India's first urban transport tunnel, being dug in central Mumbai. The 505-metre tunnel is part of the Eastern Freeway Project that will offer uninterrupted connectivity from south Mumbai to Ghatkopar.
However, Mumbaiites will have to wait for some time before they can drive through it.
"We will take at least six months to ensure that the tunnel can be used for traffic. It will take eight months to complete the other [twin] tunnel," said an official from Madhucon, the construction firm which is executing the project.
The landmark event of breaking through the final barrier of a 500-metre hillock concluded at 1pm through a controlled blast, which created a three-metre-wide opening. Engineers will now carry out further explosions and clear the debris. It will then be encased with a concrete lining to strengthen the structure.
The twin tunnels, whose construction is being overseen by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), are the first tunnel systems in India created within a city for urban transport.
Nearly 200 workers blasted through 120-metre-high mountains near Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay to create the tunnels, which are 10 metres in height.
The MMRDA had proposed building the tunnels as part of the Anik Panjarpol Link Road project, which stretches from Anik in Wadala to Panjarpol at Chembur, since a road could not be constructed due to the presence of the mountains at BARC.
However, though MMRDA officials are claiming that they will throw open one tunnel by December, and the other by mid-2013, those on the ground claim there is a lot of work left, and the first tunnel may not be pliable before March next year.