Annie Sinha Roy, a 35-year-old resident of Bengaluru, is India’s first and only tunnel engineer.
And she played a key role in the development of the 4.8 km east-west underground stretch of Namma Metro, between Cubbon Road and Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru – the first underground metro line in southern India.
Coming from a middle class family in North Kolkata, Annie wanted to pursue her masters after studying mechanical engineering from Nagpur University. But she lost her father and needed to take up a job to support her family. In October 2007, she took a job offered by Senbo, a contractor with Delhi Metro.
She joined Chennai Metro in 2009 and then went to Doha in 2014 for six months. In May 2015, she joined Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) as an assistant engineer.
“There were about 100 men, most of them labourers and a few engineers. They thought I would not last long. There were no toilets, no place to sit and debris all around,” she told The Times of India about the time she walked into the construction site of Delhi Metro on the first day of her job.
Today, she says that tunnelling is her life and she spends eight hours in tunnels every day. In Bengaluru, she alone steered Godavari, the tunnel boring machine that was used to finish boring underground from Sampige Road to Majestic.
Annie, a proud woman in a male-dominated career, has been breaking stereotypes since a long time now. Even when she had to go to Doha for a job, her visa application was rejected thrice.
“My visa application was rejected thrice by Qatar because they do not allow unmarried women to go and work there. But the fourth time, I fought it out with them,” she told TOI. Her advice to women in the country is that they should break stereotypes and work in more such professions.