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Green tunnel under Pragati Maidan will breathe life into capital city

New Delhi: The national capital’s first green Pragati Maidan tunnel will help reduce carbon emission by 12,900 tonnes and save about 5.5 million litres of fuel every year, said India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) chairman LC Goyal, citing a 2017 study by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

In a freewheeling interview with The Sunday ET, Goyal, who took charge as ITPO chief in 2015, recalled the challenges he faced during the construction of the integrated transit corridor and discussed the reasons behind the delay in the completion of India’s G-20 venue at Pragati Maidan.

The tunnel, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 19, has been built by Larsen & Tourbo and has some unique features, including artwork representing the six seasons through various elements like Sun, Moon, nakshatras, zodiac, symbols, rituals, dances and festivals.

“As part of the Pragati Maidan redevelopment project, the initial scope of the transit corridor was ’78 crores but with PM Modi‘s vision to transform urban infrastructure in Delhi and provide ease of living to the citizens, the scope was expanded 12 times to Rs 923 crores. The art work is by professor Him Chatterjee from Himachal University. This tunnel helps reduce CO2 emission by the same measures that would have required plantation of nearly 6 lakh trees. Additionally, we have planted 16,500 trees as part of the project,” explained Goyal.

The challenges, Goyal says, were “multifarious” but the project has “decongested” the traffic despite the location of the project being “busy, difficult and sensitive.” “Being built on Yamuna riverbed, where the water level is just 3 metres, the alignment of the tunnel had to be done beneath an exhibition hall and 7 busy railway tracks. A number of utilities like BSES cables, DJB sewer lines had to be shifted which required a lot of coordination but we managed to overcome all these challenges with patience, perseverance and strategy,” added Goyal.

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On the delay in the G-20 venue, Kerala cadre IAS officer said it is in part due to Covid-19 ban on construction during winters in Delhi and given the gigantic size of project measure 4.2 million square built up area. “We have been holding regular reviews and the project is now on track. We expect that it will be completed for trial by October this year.” India will host the G-20 summit in September-October 2023. On Sundays, the tunnel will be closed for traffic but open for pedestrians to enjoy the artwork inside

.”The tunnel will benefit traffic of 114,000 vehicles per day in the 1st year of opening and average savings in travel time will be about 8 minutes per vehicle. It is one of the longest and widest box tunnels below seven fast railway track lines,” said Goyal. On the possibility of water logging in the tunnel, the ITPO chief said the tunnel has seven underground sumps to collect and remove water coming inside the tunnel. “They are equipped with drainage pumping sensors to ensure automatic functioning. It has got a smart lighting concept which enables it to avoid the blinding effect from sunlight while entering the tunnel,” he said. “In fact, one of the exhibition halls is constructed above the slab of the tunnel resulting in certain columns of tunnel carrying a vertical load of around 3000 tonnes.”

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