Larsen & Toubro sets new tunnelling world record on Mumbai coast road

Indian contracting giant Larsen & Toubro claims a world record for distance tunnelled in a month after its ‘Mavala’ tunnel boring machine (TBM) excavated 456.72m at the Mumbai Coastal Road Project.

The 12.19m-diameter machine, the largest in India, broke the previous record of 455.4m set by a US-made 13m TBM operated by Turkish company Kolin Construction on the Emse–Salihli Railway Tunnel in Turkey.

SV Desai, a senior vice president for civil infrastructure with L&T, said the record was “a huge achievement for the entire construction industry worldwide”.

He said: “It had given us a huge boost to speed up construction to deliver this iconic and extremely complex project in time and with quality. I take this opportunity to thank our customer, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, for reposing faith in us and supporting us through this whole process, as well as our employees without whom this could not have been achieved.”

L&T commented in a press release that the 2,500 tonne Mavala (named after 17th-century Indian warriors) was delivered during the height of the pandemic and had to be assembled with only virtual help from the manufacturer. 

It added that the team was able to rotate the TBM in the shaft so as to begin a second tunnel construction without disassembling it.

The first phase of the Mumbai Coastal Road Project involves a 10km section from Marine Lines to the southern end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, which crosses Mahim Bay.

The phase is subdivided into four packages, all being undertaken by L&T. The record was achieved on the fourth of these, which runs from the Princess Street Flyover at Marine Lines to Priyadarshini Park. When completed, it would be the largest and deepest bored road tunnel in India.

The second and final phase will be tackled by the state-owned Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation.

When fully complete, the $1.5bn project will consist of a 22km motorway running along Mumbai’s western coastline from Marine Lines in the south to Kandivali in the north. It is expected to be used by 130,000 vehicles a day, and will cut travel time between south Mumbai and its western suburbs from 2 hours to 40 minutes.

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