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Monday, November 3, 2014

tunnel to bank locker - the precision work of small group !!

Part of Chennai moves on arterial Anna Salai (Mount Road) ~  the city has choked many a times whenever political agitation or a show of strength by any leader   left the city paralysed.  With Chennai Metro rail, something impossible happened – traffic on this main was regulated – read as ‘made one way in phases’.  Many eye-brows were raised when effective  Mar 2012, prime part of the Mount Road after Devi Paradise complex – from Wellington junction was made one way –  now years passing by, the city is sort of used to the one way and traffic is flowing freely.

Regulars would observe that it does not continue to be what it is – the portions motorable keep changing, for, work is going on under the ground. It is very complex – tunnelling work under a road which has such high flow of traffic; loose soil; water table being high and more.   There are three consortiums involved in the underground construction.  Read that the tunnelling work of the Chennai Metro was carried out by twelve tunnel boring machines (TBMs) working on forty tunnel sections covering 38 km.  A tunnel is an underground or underwater passageway, dug through the surrounding soil/earth/rock and enclosed except for entrance and exit, commonly at each end.

Conventional Tunnelling can be defined as the construction of underground openings of any shape with a cyclic construction process comprising of excavation, mucking, placement of primary support. Conventional Tunnelling is carried out in a cyclic execution process of repeated steps of excavation followed by the application of relevant primary support.   As in the case of Metro, modern day tunnelling is done by a  tunnel boring machine (TBM) also known as a "mole",  a machine used to excavate tunnels with a circular cross section through a variety of soil and rock strata.

The Baker Street robbery was a robbery of the safe deposit boxes at 185 Lloyds Bank on the corner of Baker Street and Marylebone Road, London, on the night of  11th Sept 1971. The robbers had rented a leather goods shop named Le Sac, two doors down from the bank, and tunnelled a distance of approximately 50 feet (15 m) passing under the intervening Chicken Inn restaurant.

Three days after thieves were found to have cleaned out 78 lockers from a bank in Sonipat, police on Thursday claimed to have cracked the multi-crore heist even as the alleged mastermind was mysteriously found dead in his car.  TOI reports quote Police as saying that Mahipal -the alleged brain behind the heist who owned the abandoned house from where the thieves dug an 84-foot-long tunnel to the Punjab National Bank branch's locker room,  had committed suicide. His body was found on Panipat Road around 3pm. It had no visible injuries. Police said the autopsy report was awaited.

The Haryana police have arrested three of the four other suspects. All of them are from the neighbouring Kathwal village and, strangely, none of them has a major criminal record. Police said they recovered 39kg of gold and silver ornaments and some cash. Satish, a property dealer, Surender, a lab technician, and Balraj, an ‘agriculturist,' are the three arrested in connection with the sensational Sonipat heist. Search is on to nab the fourth suspect, Rajesh. “Mahipal was the main conspirator. He involved the four others to execute the job. We suspect Mahipal committed suicide because he feared being caught,” Arun Singh, Sonipat superintendent of police, told TOI.

The PNB branch where the heist took place is on Gohana Road. TOI visited the spot and found a 10-12 feet wide street separated it from Mahipal’s house, where the tunnel began. The strong room, where the lockers were present, is at the extreme end of the building that housed the bank. Police claim the four thieves would visit the house at night and work on the tunnel till dawn. They used heavy iron rods, spades and trowels (khurpa) to dig the tunnel and they broke open the locker using a jack, said officials.  The digging was done with such finesse that telephone cables and water pipelines in the tunnel remained completely untouched. The tunnel was about three feet high and 2-3 feet wide.

“The bank has 350 lockers. The thieves managed to decamp with valuables kept in 78 of them. They broke open a total of 86 lockers,” said a source. Police were taken aback by the profile of the suspects. “It is surprising that these novices managed to make such an elaborate plan and execute it with precision. Also, the mysterious death of Mahipal raises more questions than answers about this bank heist. The real story, I feel, is yet to come out,” said an investigating official. He did not rule out the possibility of a bank employee or customer being involved. But police, on record, denied any such theory. The involvement of PMO, which sent a senior official to look into this case a day after it was reported, has also led to speculation here.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
31st Oct 2o14

Quoted portion of Sonipat heist and infographic  – credits : Times of India.

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