Jun 13, 2018

What took Railways years to begin fixing leakages in Parsik Tunnel?

The 140-year old Parsik Tunnel between Thane and Kalyan on the fast railway track is finally getting necessary treatment to stop water leaking from shanties above. The continuous water leakage from illegal shanties built above the tunnel have endangered lives of lakhs of rail commuters who travel through the tunnel every day. Yet, the Railways took their own sweet time to begin repair work only at the end of this month. In fact, contrary to commitment given by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal at a Moneylife Foundation anniversary event on 13th January this year. Mumbai Mirror has reported Wednesday that the Railways has only finally "awarded a contract” to repair a critical part of the 1.3kms tunnel. 

Moneylife Foundation had submitted a "Memorandum on Improving Mumbai Suburban Rail Network" to Mr Goyal in January. After a quick look at the issues raised, Mr Goyal and senior railway officials who accompanied him had said, "...for the Parsik Tunnel issue that is mentioned in this (Memorandum), we are in the process to make the tunnel water proof so that next rainy season, there will be no leakage.” 

However, all that is done so far is to issue a tender and the tunnel will remain exposed to the vagaries of the monsoon this year as well. 

In the Memorandum, Moneylife Foundation had pointed out that water seepage caused by an increase in human habitation over the tunnel is making the Thane to Diva fast track a dangerous route for commuters as well as all trains. This is also endangering lives of lakhs of commuters who travel daily on this route. It was requested to remove all encroachments from the top of the tunnel and its proximity in coordination with the local municipal authority, after conducting a structural audit of the tunnel.

The written response to the Memorandum received by us from the Central Railways on 11 June 2018 says, "Critical encroachments in Parsik Tunnel have been removed in close co-ordination with Civic bodies. Assessment and design of seepage control measures in Parsik tunnel of Mumbai division, Central Railway, has been carried out by CSIR - Central Institute of Mining & Fuel Research, Roorkee. Further action is under process.” 

Clearly, things are progressing very slowly. 

Details of the Memorandum prepared by well-known railway activists in association with Moneylife Foundation can be read here: https://www.moneylife.in/article/piyush-goyal-promises-international-standards-of-passenger-safety-comfort-convenience-and-speed/52753.html 

Going by the reply given by Mr Goyal and senior officials from the Railways, it was expected that the work to make Parsik tunnel leak proof would be over before Monsoon this year. However, according to media reports, this work will actually begin by end of June and would go on for next six months. 

"From this month-end, the Central Railway will undertake Rs4.5-crore ambitious project to seal the leaky roof of Parsik tunnel using polyurethane chemical grout. The work will be executed post-midnight, when trains do not operate, over a period of six months," a report from Time of India says quoting railway officials. 

Explaining the work, the CR official told the newspaper, engineers will drill around 400 holes, each 5 meter deep, at a distance of 1.25m-2m, and polyurethane chemical will be injected into them at high pressure. It will form foam-like barriers along the crown of the tunnel, which will then solidify in the form of protective ring. But as the water has to be drained, the engineers will also drill holes along the walls of the tunnel. “We will install pipes along the walls to drain out the water,” the official was quoted as saying.

This process of injecting chemical into rock voids that hardens to create a concrete mass and plugs leaks is known as grouting. 

A report in April 2018 says the Central Railways had decided to call for tenders to repair the Parsik tunnel. Quoting SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway, the report from DNA, says, “We have called tenders for this improvement work which shall begin soon.”

While the Railways have finally initiated process to repair leakages in Parsik tunnel, unless the illegal shanties and encroachments from above the tunnel are removed, travelling through this part would remain a dangerous thing for daily commuters.

Source - ML

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