Contractors bidding for a portion of the tunnelling work for the Chennai metro rail have sought more time than that stipulated in the tender documents. They say that the December floods damaged the tunnel boring machines and other equipment left behind by the previous contractor.
The Russian company Mosmetrostroy abandoned the tunnelling project demanding more money from Chennai Metro Rail Ltd, the company executing the project. CMRL rejected this request and decided to invite fresh bids.
In the fresh tender, CMRL has asked the project to be completed in nine months, which the bidders say is not realistic. They felt it would take at least 30 months to complete the project. CMRL is looking into this request, reliable sources said.
Four contractors – Larsen & Toubro (L&T), HCC Ltd, Coastal Projects and Afcons Infrastructure – participated in the project’s pre-bid meeting and raised the issue of contract duration.
Contractors said that equipment was submerged in floodwaters and most of the electronic components needed to be repaired or replaced. It will take three months to repair and commission the equipment, leaving just six months to complete the works, which the contractors said was not sufficient.
Another 1.9 km of tunnel needs to be bored and the asking rate of TBM is about 300 metres a month or 12 metres daily. It is impossible to achieve in this type of strata, the contractors told CMRL officials in the pre-bid meeting.
The average progress achieved in similar underground strata in other projects was 2 metres a day and 3.5 metres a day in the same alignment.
Even if on an average 3.5 metres of tunnel is bored daily, it will take 30 months to complete the work, they said.
To speed up the project, CMRL has promised the contractors a bonus for early completion.
If the contractor achieves ‘key date 3’ within 10 months, it will be paid a bonus at 2 per cent of the tendered value above the overall contract amount up to a maximum of ₹5 crore; if it exceeds ten months but within 11 months, the bonus will be 1 per cent up to a maximum of ₹2.5 crore; if it exceeds 11 months but within 12 months, the bonus will be 0.5 per cent up to a maximum of ₹1.25 crore.
Mosmetrostroy along with Gammon was awarded two contracts amounting to ₹1,947 crore for designing and constructing underground stations and associated tunnels covering a total length of 18 km and 19 underground stations.
Out of the five packages, May Day Park was awarded to AG-DMS Office and Saidapet to AG-DMS (contract for stretch recently awarded to L&T) to construct underground stations at Government Estate, LIC, Thousand Lights, Gemini, Teynampet, Chamiers Road and Saidapet along with twin bored tunnels covering a total length of 6,474 metres.