The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) informed the disaster management authority about two hours too late when nearly 2,000 commuters were trapped inside a train that got stuck in a tunnel near Central Secretariat station in June.
A preliminary inquiry report into the June 11 incident has rapped the DMRC for failing to inform the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), losing out on crucial time which could have been used in rescue efforts. Officials said it could have been a major disaster in which several lives could have been lost.
“While commuters were trapped inside the train for nearly two hours, the DMRC didn’t bother to inform the disaster management authority about it. It seems that there were no announcements which triggered panic among the passengers who forcefully opened the doors of the train and came out on the tracks,” said a senior Delhi government official.
“This is a serious lapse as it compromises with the safety of the commuters. Fortunately, no train came from the other side. The tracks were also not well-lit and maybe there was a power failure too. The least DMRC could have done was to inform the disaster authority,” the official said.
Officials said the final report should be out within a week’s time.
“There was chaos everywhere. The DMRC also seemed medically under-equipped to handle such eventualities,” said the official.
Sources alleged the DMRC had tried to ‘stall the inquiry’, claiming that it was not a disaster but merely an ‘incident’.
However, DMRC said it has not received any such report. “The June 11 incident can’t be termed a disaster. Only when there is a threat to a person’s life or a casualty we call it a disaster. We are equipped to safely evacuate people as we had done last year during the failure of the Northern Grid,” said Sharat Sharma, director (operations) DMRC.
On June 11, a train carrying 1,791 passengers, which was heading towards Gurgaon, had suddenly come to a halt at 9.24am and remained stranded inside the tunnel between Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan stations till around 11am.