The Sunday morning accident at Zamrudpur is shocking; more shocking perhaps because it involves the Delhi Metro — a name associated with infallibility till a year ago.
This accident and the one at Laxmi Nagar in East Delhi last year, when a launcher fell on moving road traffic and killed three people, have put a blot on an impeccable safety record built over a decade.
Plans to build a metro for Delhi go back to the early 80s but Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was formed only in 1995 and construction began on October 1, 1998.
With an example like the Kolkata Metro before it, which took 22 years to build, what DMRC has achieved was beyond anyone’s expectation.
DMRC's Managing Director E Sreedharan ensured that he is given a free rein before he accepted the responsibility and what he and his organisation has done since has set benchmarks for best construction practices across the world.
The going has not been entirely easy — DMRC had to face major challenges like crossing the Yamuna, tunneling through very hard rock in the walled city area where decrepit, centuries old buildings above ground posed more problems and working on busy arterial roads and over railway lines without disturbing road or rail traffic. Delhi Metro, however, always delivered on time.
Its success story of building a cost effective but world class Metro in record time has made countries like Indonesia, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Dubai, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka ask for its help in building their own metros.
When it began, almost all its employees had come on deputation from other sarkari organisations but DMRC went on to create a work culture of its own. Working from tiny offices where any babu worth his safari suit would refuse to sit, the Metro men have changed the way this city moves.
In the seven years that it built a network of 66 kms with three different lines, it maintained the highest safety standards — at least till nine months ago.