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Image: The tunnel boring machine in the tunnel underneath Esplanade.   

Kolkata: GOOD news Kolkata! The city’s transportation landscape today achieved yet another milestone with the completion of the metro railway tunnel from Howrah Maidan to Esplanade in the heart of Kolkata.

Prerana, the tunnel boring machine (TBM) that went underground at Howrah Maidan on 21 April 2016 today achieved the breakthrough by reaching Esplanade, the junction where the under-construction East-West Metro Corridor meets the existing north-south Metro Railway line.

Through the past 23 months, Prerana has dug a 3.8 km tunnel traversing underneath the Hooghly river and one of the most congested parts of Kolkata where stands several iconic buildings of the city. This is the first transportation tunnel in India to have passed under a major river.

On its way from Howrah Maidan to Esplanade, the tunnel passed underneath the Howrah rail yard, Bankim Setu, Howrah railway station, DRM office, Brabourne Road Flyover, Beth El Synagogue, Magen David Synagogue, St Andrews Church, Writers Building, Old Telegraph office, and the Raj Bhawan.

Engineers hired by Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (KMRCL) adopted several protective measures and undertook continuous monitoring to avoid damage to these iconic structures as the machine went on digging the tunnel underground.

East-West Metro Corridor will connect Howrah to Salt Lake Sector V via Sealdah and Esplanade. The first phase of this new Metro line is due to open on 2 October this year.