Bengaluru: The coronavirus outbreak in distant China has affected work on the Bengaluru Metro.. Tunneling work on a 5.5-km stretch of the metro route from Vellara Junction to Pottery Town has had to be put off as the Chinese personnel required for the task cannot enter India as New Delhi has imposed temporary visa restrictions on foreigners coming from China.
The Chinese personnel are needed for the assembly, deployment and operation of four tunnel boring machines (TBMs), which are made by China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Corporation Limited.
Sources in the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) said two TBMs have arrived at the Chennai port and are expected to reach Bengaluru by mid-February. Two others are in transit and are likely to arrive here in March.
A senior BMRCL official told Deccan Chronicle, “The team from the Chinese corporation will assemble and run the machines, which will take 15-20 days. But their arrival has been delayed as India has imposed restrictions on the entry of people from China in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. So we have no option other than to wait."
L&T, the contractor for the Vellara Junction-Pottery Town stretch of the Metro, had ordered these TBMs. They have to be assembled and lowered into shafts at the Shivajinagar and Cantonment stations. Before beginning the drilling work, trial runs will be conducted to ensure the machines are working properly.
The TBMs will enable BMRCL to tunnel 2.5-5 m per day, depending on the local conditions. These tunnels are part of the longest underground Metro section, a 14 km stretch between Dairy Circle and Nagawara on the Pink Line.
BMRCL has set 2024 as the deadline for commissioning the underground section. It said nine TBMs will be deployed along the 14-km underground section.