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Barred but not deterred

There is no escaping the dangers of slack construction practices in the Capital. Less than a year after the Laxmi Nagar incident, where three people died after a girder at a Delhi Metro construction site fell on moving traffic, the contractor involved in the project is again cutting corners in site management at another construction site in the city.

delhi Updated: Jul 17, 2009 00:49 IST
Sidhartha Roy

There is no escaping the dangers of slack construction practices in the Capital.

Less than a year after the Laxmi Nagar incident, where three people died after a girder at a Delhi Metro construction site fell on moving traffic, the contractor involved in the project is again cutting corners in site management at another construction site in the city.

Afcons, a major engineering and construction company, is the contractor for Delhi Metro’s Laxmi Nagar stretch. After the accident, Afcons was debarred from bidding for any fresh tender floated by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation for a year.

Afcons is also constructing the Rs 250-crore grade separator project at Ghazipur, which has to be completed before 2010 Commonwealth Games. Despite being blamed by the DMRC for the Laxmi Nagar accident, its site management at Ghazipur shows that it is yet to learn from its mistakes.

The Mumbai-based 50-year-old company has an annual turnover of $400 million. Apart from the Ghazipur project, it is building three other flyovers in the city and other sections for Delhi Metro. It is also constructing many big construction projects in other cities in India and abroad.

The Ghazipur crossing is one of the busiest in Delhi and construction of a grade separator has only made the condition much more chaotic and unsafe.

The project by the Public Works Department involves construction of a flyover on NH 24, an underpass on the Ghazipur road and a rotary.

Barricades separating the site from the road, which has now become a norm at any construction site in the city, are missing in many parts along the road. Mounds of cement and sand are kept in the open right at the Ghazipur intersection.

“There is construction going on everywhere in the city for the Commonwealth Games but nowhere else have I seen construction material being kept in the open like this,” said Jayant Sharma, an Kaushambi resident who uses this road every day.

With wind blowing away the construction material all over the place, cyclists and bikers have no option but to inhale the dust-laden air from the site.

In a written statement, S. Paramasivan, executive director (Finance and Commercial) of Afcons Infrastructure Ltd., claimed that the site has complete barricading but temporarily some barricades have been removed to facilitate other agencies like the Delhi Jal Board, BSES and BSNL/MTNL.

He also claimed that cement is not stored in the open and only some sand bags and Bentonite bags are at the construction site, which is essential for diaphragm wall work. He said the material is covered with polythene sheets.

Moreover, cranes and construction equipment are not kept at a safe distance from the moving traffic. Cranes moving in and out of the site mingle with the road traffic and pose risk for motorists.

“I was returning home at night when a crane hit my car. I didn’t even see the crane coming and it left a huge dent on my car,” said Shivalika Sharma, an Indirapuram resident.

“There are constraints on the availability of space for keeping/moving the equipment. At the junction full height barricading is not provided from the visibility point of view as is requisitioned by the traffic police,” says the statement.

There site also lacks traffic management. Traffic marshals could not be seen on the road, but Afcons said it has deployed five traffic marshals in each shift at the intersection and that is adequate.