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Offbeat, Unusual and Unconventional Careers

Breaking barriers of what is considered the ‘right and suitable job’ for women, here is the story of Annie Sinha Roy who is India’s first and only woman tunnel engineer. Though it is depressing to note that Roy is the only woman in this profession in a country where there are about 623 million women, it is also makes us happy that a woman as courageous as her chose a job away from the mainstream. We also have to note that a tunnel engineer counts among the most dangerous civil engineering jobs in the world. Kudos to you, Roy! She has played a monumental role in the Bengaluru Metro Project.

What do you do?

Annie has helped develop the 4.8 km east-west underground track of Namma Bangalore – the country’s first underground metro line in southern India – that will run from Cubbon Road to Vidhana Soudha.

Your background?

After having completed her graduation, Roy wanted to pursue her Masters in Mechanical Engineering from the Nagpur University. But she lost her father and needed to take up a job to support her family financially. In October 2007, she took a job offered by Senbo, a contractor with Delhi Metro. Later, she joined Chennai Metro in 2009 and then went to Doha for 6 months in 2014. In May 2015, she joined Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) as an assistant engineer.

First day at job?

Recalling one of her first experiences as a tunnel engineer, Annie said, “After a couple of hours, I was standing in front of a huge machine that had to break the ground but it was stuck. A German engineer and my boss asked me to get inside it and open a nut. Even before I realized what I was doing, my face was gushed by hydraulic oil. The colleague said my face would glow for the rest of my life. Today tunnelling is my life.”

can you explain your work ?

It was in 2009 when she took up work with Chennai Metro, after which she flew to Doha in 2014 for six months. She started working with Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) in 2015 as assistant manager.
In BMRC, Annie single-handedly steered Godavari – the tunnel-boring machine that recently finished carving out the underground track from Sampige Road to Majestic. She called it her tunnel because the moment she hopped on board, the machine got damaged.
After that moment, Annie started spending eight hours in the tunnel every day.
“Sometimes when people see me with the helmet and jacket and learn that I work for Namma Metro, they would only ask when the work will get over,” added Annie.

Any challenges?

“I was rejected visa to Qatar thrice because I was not married. But the fourth time, I fought it out with them,” she laughs. She steered Godavari, the tunnel-boring machine that recently finished boring underground from Sampige Road to Majestic, all by herself.
“When I joined, there were about 100 men, no toilets and no place to sit. There was debris all around. At the same time, the machine was damaged and I worked for about 8 hours in the tunnel every day,” Roy said in an interview to a media house. Hailing from Kolkata, Roy presently lives in Bengaluru with her husband. She urges women to take up jobs that interest them rather than compromising on something mainstream for the society. “I want women to drive a tunnel boring machine. I want them to work in the tunnel,” Roy said.