Challenges Of Building Only Roadway Tunnel In Kohima - Eastern Mirror
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Challenges of building only roadway tunnel in Kohima

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Nov 05, 2023 10:44 pm
Challenges of building only roadway tunnel in Kohima
Ongoing construction of the roadway tunnel along the Kohima-Bypass road at Meriema in Kohima district. (EM Images)

KOHIMA — The pioneering roadway tunnel stretching 0.5 km along the Kohima-Bypass road at Meriema in Kohima district, once completed, is expected to ease the city’s traffic congestion greatly and provide an alternate route connecting National Highway-02.

But, the construction is not without its challenges.

The 500-meter tunnel project was started in April 2021 and was supposed to be completed in October 2022. However, the project was halted for one good year due to the ‘landslides’ and ‘property damage’ issues. Now, the new completion date has been extended to July 2024.

Typically, blasting methods are employed for faster work progress in tunnel construction.

However, builders of this particular tunnel are faced with major challenges due to the instability of soil and water seepage, which is delaying the work progress.

Eastern Mirror recently visited the site of the ongoing maintenance and building works.

This is the only tunnel along the road stretch and comes under package II (10.50km) of the Kohima-Bypass road executed by the Bharat Construction India Pvt. Ltd.

Aman Thakur, tunnel engineer (civil), who joined the project recently, told this newspaper that approximately 100 meters of excavation has been completed and maintenance works are going on due to water seepage.

Every day, they have to dewater the groundwater seepage for five to six hours. “If we don’t dewater, the whole place will be flooded,” he said.

He is confident that the project will be completed within the timeframe. But because of the climate challenges here, one month of work is getting delayed to two to three months. This has compelled us to start working simultaneously on both ends of the tunnel, he said.

On a daily basis, they are able to complete three meters each on both ends of the tunnel, which is average given the soil strength. The seepage of water results in slushy soil, making it challenging to work, Thakur said.

Method of blasting cannot be applied here because the soil is not stable. “If we are to blast, it’ll trigger landslides,” he said.

The company is engaging over 50 workers to work in two shifts -day and night – on both ends of the tunnel.

The workforce includes engineers, surveyors, foremen, supervisors, electricians, operators and labourers. But the total workforces under package II, which includes the tunnel and two major bridges, is around 110, he said.

Surveyor of the project, Washim Akram Ahmed, who previously worked on hydro, underground metro and railway line projects, said all the works differ from one another.

He, however, said the current project is the most challenging because of the type of rock (5th grade) they encounter.

“The biggest issue we face is with the rock. They appear hard but when dug they get mixed with the water and become soft. When they get mixed, they become slushy, making it difficult for us to work,” he said.

He also said that the land is not stable and there are seepage, causing rocks to slide and making it difficult and risky for them to work.

Working season here is less due to rainy seasons and they have to work for lesser duration. Otherwise, if the weather is favourable, a maximum of one year is all they need to complete the tunnel, Ahmed added.

Fortunately, there have been no accidents so far, the surveyor said while adding that they put on safety gears like helmets, safety suits, gum boots, goggles and face masks.

The surveyor also informed that the locals are helping and supporting them whenever the need arises.

Forty-seven-year-old Santosh Paswan, foreman of the project, said he had been working on tunnels in various states in the past.

In other place, they usually encounter rocks, but here in Nagaland, it is only soil, he said.

He also felt that work progress of the tunnel could have been much more had it not been halted for a year.

Prior to the landslides, he said things were set. But then the project stopped completely for a year and now they have to work on it step-by-step.

Tuneshwar Hodar, a 50-year-old labourer, along with his co-worker was seeing pumping water out of the tunnel when this correspondent visited the site.

Sharing his work, he said they have to work carefully in case the upper part falls on them in the form of mud-slides. “We work in fear of getting drowned in the mud-slides and groundwater, but the project has to be done,” Hodar said.

He confided that his family members told him not to undertake work that involves danger and risk. But being the sole bread earner of his six-member family, he had to take risks to provide for the family.

Hodar previously worked as a security guard, but in order to earn more money, he said he chose the current job.

He also shared his grievances over the alleged negligence of the company or contractor concerned towards the workers’ health.

“We have come from outside to work here and if anything happens to us, there is no one here for us,” he lamented.

Ajij Hussain, a machine helper from Assam, also raised concern about water scarcity in the area where they are working. He said they are using drainage water for bathing and cleaning, which is dirty and smelly. In fact, a co-worker contracted dengue and was sent home, he said.

Shyam Bihari from Uttar Pradesh, who does drilling and blasting works, said that there is not much blasting work at the current project.

He expressed hope that the work will go on smoothly and in full swing, now that the weather is good.

Also read: DC Mon issues travel restrictions for one week over Mon-Tizit road maintenance work

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Nov 05, 2023 10:44:14 pm
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