Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, June 7: Nagaland had its first-ever tunnel dug on Friday at Chumoukedima village during the ongoing ‘Dimapur-Kohima new broad gauge (BG) Line project.’
The tunnel named ‘tunnel No. 1A’ was declared to be the first of its kind in the state after the workers successfully dug open the end of the tunnel at 11.10 am.
Site engineer of ABCI Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd., Muna Malakar, told Eastern Mirror that the first tunnel was 72 metres long, 8 metres tall, and 8 metres wide.
The deputy chief engineer of the project from Northeast Frontier (NF) Railway, V Hauzel, said that more than 20 tunnels would be dug as part of the project. The longest will be 6.4 km long, which will be at Chaphema. He also said that several bridges would also be constructed during the process, including 19 major bridges.
Another tunnel named ‘tunnel No. 3,’ located near Kukidolong, was also visited during the day. Hauzel said that it would measure 824 metres approximately.
Sharing about the safety measures, Hauzel said that pressure cell and load cell is being used for tunnel linings and struts (a rod or bar forming part of a framework and designed to resist compression).
While talking about the problems faced, Hauzel mentioned that the mountains along the site contains ‘sale.’ It is a type of clay rock which expands when contacted with water resulting in a sluggish and muddy texture.
This creates problem as it weakens the structure of the tunnel. To counter the problem, hydraulic drilling and controlled blasting are being used, he said.
It was also reported that aquifer, a body of permeable rock which can contains or transmits groundwater, also hampers the work progress. While digging, water flows through such layer which turns the tunnel road soggy making it difficult for workers and vehicles to move about. Boring pipes are drilled on top of the tunnel to puncher the water pockets, he added.
Asked if there were any problems faced by the company, Hauzel said there are no threats from the Naga armed groups as of now. ‘Currently, there are no problems of any disturbance by groups but earlier the locals were creating some problems,’ he said.
Hauzel disclosed that there were ‘issues from some land owners in the past which forced the rail line to shift its location.’ He said that the company is ready to compensate if the government issues ownership.
Meanwhile, he explained that the tunnels alone will cover a total of 26 km and said that the total ‘length of the railway line is 82.3km.’ There will be eight stations (or line capacity), a section with two tracks where one train is halted while the other crosses.
Hauzel said that the railway will end at Zubza at an altitude of 700 metres. He explained that due to very steep gradient and narrow space beyond Zubza, the Indian Railways decided to be terminate the connection there, short of Kohima town.
The rail line along the plain area covers 30 km till Serima. If there are no further obstacles in between, he assured that area would be fully completed (including layering of tracks) by December.
About the project
Led by the NF Railway and several railway construction companies, the project began on March and is expected to complete by 2022.
The new BG line will take off from the existing Rail line at Dhansiri Railway station in Karbi Anglong district, 19 km short of Dimapur, and would reach Zubza, which is 16 km short of Kohima.
This new line will have a speed of 100 kmph and will touch Dimapur and Kohima districts of Nagaland. According to the NF Railway, the railway line project has been allocated INR 500 crore in the recent Railway Budget 2019-20.
According to the Indian Railways, as per an earlier plan, the Dimapur-Zubza (Kohima) new BG line was planned as an 88-km long project in 2007-08. However, later the alignment was modified for the construction of the line from Dhansiri-Zubza via Sukhovi, making it 90.50-km long. The project is said to be executed in three phases.