Every night, at around 11.30 pm, a long multi-axle trailer leaves from a casting yard in Bandra to the construction site of the Metro 7 on the Western Express Highway. Carrying ‘U’ girders of about 170 metric tonne, the trailer takes close to two hours to reach its destination. As it makes its arduous journey, it tends to slow down vehicles on its way.
On an average the contractors manage to launch two girders every night- both leaving the casting yard in a gap of an hour. At several locations the axle finds it hard to take U-turns and to allow a smooth passage, they have to remove the dividers and place temporary barricades. The weight of the girder makes it a risky operation as any imbalance can make the axle topple over. Once the axle reaches the construction site, the next tough task at hand is launching the girder.
“The whole operation of launching the girder is a risky affair and that is why it is done only at night. Lifting the girder and attaching it to the pier caps is another difficult task. Sometimes, despite several attempts we are not able to launch it right and have to give up altogether. Yesterday was one such night and we just parked the axle on the side of the road. It will be launched today,” said a supervisor at the casting yard.
To prevent any untoward incident during the launching of the girder, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) along with the traffic police implements traffic diversions at the launching site between 11.30 pm and 6 am every night. With a major amount of work happening at night, residents living along the alignment have been complaining about high-decibel noise disturbing their sleep. However, with the more noisy work almost completed, the worst seems to have passed. “Back in April and May, we would wake up to loud noises coming from the construction site on a regular basis.However, the piers now have been erected and with that the noise also has come down,” says Elizabeth Wilson, who lives close to the metro site near the National Park.
With the work on the Metro 2 corridor connecting Dahisar West with D N Nagar also garnering speed, a similar situation will soon be seen there as well. “In the next 15-20 days we will begin launching girders for Metro 2 as well. We will either begin at Kasturi Park or IC Colony in Borivali West,” said an MMRDA official. The Metro 3 work sites also see some activity at night with the contractors choosing the time to dispose of the muck.
The muck created during the underground tunneling are collected by huge dumpers to be disposed of in abandoned quarries on the outskirts of the city. “Once the day’s work is completed we have to dispose of the muck and this is done during the night as it is the best time for the huge dumpers to maneuver traffic,” said a labourer at Cuffe Parade metro site. However, residents living near Metro work sites occasionally complain of high-decibel noises. “Though it is a rare occurrence now, every once in awhile we hear work noises post 10 and it does disturb the peace of the neighbourhood,” says Godfrey Pimenta, an activist and a resident of Marol.