Engineers achieved a major breakthrough for India’s widest and fourth longest tunnel at Kasara Ghat near Igatpuri on Tuesday. Part of the Samruddhi Mahamarg in Maharashtra, this is the state’s longest tunnel. A total of 15,000 workers led by 150 engineers completed the end-to-end connectivity of the tunnel on the Nashik highway in a record two years, according to a report in Times of India.
The twin tunnels (left hand side and right hand side), part of the 700-km Mumbai-Nagpur expressway, will reduce travel through Kasara Ghat to five minutes from 35 minutes. The twin tunnels, measuring 8 km in length and 17.5 m in width, connects Tarangpada village in Nashik to Vashala village in Thane district. The cost of the tunnel project alone is Rs 2,745 crore.
The feat of completing the work in two years was achieved by the Austrian tunnelling method of sequential excavation by infrastructure major Afcons, according to a report by Deccan Herald. The daylighting of the tunnel has also contributed to the progress in the speedy completion of Mumbai-Nagpur e-way. The e-way will cut the travel time between Mumbai and Nagpur to eight to nine hours from the current 14 to 15 hours.
Deccan Herald quoted Anil Kumar Gaikwad, joint managing director, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), as saying: “This is an extremely proud moment and a critical milestone that has been achieved by Afcons in PKG-14 (package 14), which is the most challenging of all 16 packages in the entire project. The tunnelling has been done efficiently and proactively following the highest safety standards. We are extremely pleased that the tunnelling could be completed so swiftly without any lost time incident.”
The first breakthrough in the construction of the tunnel came in May, followed by the second and third breakthroughs in July and August. Officials said it was a massive achievement that connectivity had been achieved ahead of schedule despite lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “As per present projections, the tunnels will be in final shape for handover by June next year,” Afcons project manager Sekhar Das was quoted as saying.
Igatpuri is also known to be an area with heavy rainfall. According to reports, the tunnel will have water hydrants, supervisory control and data acquisition for fast communication and monitoring.