‘Contractors biting off more than they can chew’ | delhi | Hindustan Times
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‘Contractors biting off more than they can chew’

Sunday’s mishap on Vikas Marg is the first major structural accident in almost a decade of Delhi Metro’s construction. However, it has caused irreparable damage to Metro’s image, reports Atul Mathur.

delhi Updated: Oct 19, 2008 23:58 IST
Atul Mathur

Sunday’s mishap on Vikas Marg is the first major structural accident in almost a decade of Delhi Metro’s construction. However, it has caused irreparable damage to Metro’s image.

The accident has placed a question mark over safety measures adopted by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) at its various construction sites.

In the past few months, there have been other mishaps at various Metro sites. On July 18 this year, four call centre employees and their driver had a miraculous escape when a huge iron girder fell on their cab, at a Metro construction site opposite Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

Structural and design safety experts say safety measures employed by DMRC in the past decade have been of international standard. But they agree that there have been some lapses in the recent past, and it is time DMRC pulled up its socks regarding safety.

“It seems that the locking mechanism of the launcher gave away. The contractor did not care for the fitness of the equipment being used. There is a serious safety lapse on the part of the contractor, which is unpardonable,” said Pradeep Chaturvedi, former chairman, Safety and Quality Forum.

Though a separate safety contract is signed between the constructing agency and the contractor, experts doubt that the contractors actually care for the contract terms in spirit.

“Safety at the construction site has to be monitored without let up. It’s important for the construction area to be segregated. Proper signage and diversions should be in place. So, the carelessness on the contractor’s part is evident,” said R.C. Kehar, former chairman, National Building Construction Company.

“The problem is that we have a safety system and dos and don’ts in place, but there is no check on compliance,” Kehar added.

With so many infrastructure works going on across the city, safety experts feel that even the contractors are over-worked. “There are few reputable companies that actually qualify for the tendering process. As a result, the same companies are awarded civil contracts. All these companies have more work than they can actually handle,” an engineer, who has worked with DMRC, said.

Apart from the Yamuna Bank-Anand Vihar stretch of Delhi Metro, the contractor, Afcons, is also building the Vishwavidyalaya-Jehangirpuri line and some parts of the Airport Express Link.