Won’t take China’s help to assemble tunnel-boring machine for coastal road: BMCUpdated: Jun 26, 2020 23:26 IST
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to not take assistance from China to assemble the tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will be used for the construction of a 3km tunnel between Chowpatty and Malabar, a part of the 9km coastal road between Princess Street flyover and Worli.
The 12.9mm TBM was imported from China a month ago and BMC had to take assistance from the Chinese manufacturer to assemble it in the TBM shaft. This would have involved TBM manufacturing company’s representatives flying to Mumbai. However, it has now decided to take assistance from Indian experts, and if required, experts from Singapore.
BMC claims this decision has nothing to do with the Indo-China clash at the border in Ladakh and was planned a few days before the conflict. According to BMC officials, the decision was taken considering the international travel difficulties owing to the Covid-19 crisis.
“China was the first country to report Covid-19 cases, and looking at the situation, it would be difficult to get permission. Hence, before the Indo-China clash in Ladakh, we decided to not take assistance from China. We will take help from Indian experts, and if necessary, experts will be roped in from Singapore. Also, considering the manufacturer is in China, there may be some sort of assistance from there, if required, but we will not have them in Mumbai for the TBM assembly,” said a civic official. Vijay Nighot, chief engineer of BMC’s coastal road project confirmed the decision.
HT had reported on April 3, that BMC is likely to give a recommendation letter to allow 30 Chinese nationals to visit the city after one month, terming it a special case for tunnelling work of the ambitious coastal road project. The recommendation letter would help the 30 Chinese nationals – who would provide crucial assistance in assembling these machines – get visas. The civic body had said that it would give the letter only if the situation improves, and the Covid-19 spread is brought under control.
A 12.9-m wide TBM being used for the project arrived from China in the last week of April. “We are yet not in the stage to start tunnelling work. Due to delays in the schedule, owing to the outbreak of Covid-19, we are running around two months behind. The actual work of tunnelling will now start in October,” said a BMC official.
The coastal road project is already running behind schedule after the Bombay high court stayed the work in July 2019 for want of environment clearances. After BMC challenged the stay in the Supreme Court, pointing out that the project was exempted from the clearance and environment assessment as it had been completed, the Apex court stayed the HC order in December 2019. The coastal road project’s completion has also been postponed to mid-2023 from the earlier deadline of end-2022, and now may get delayed further.