Six persons died on Sunday morning when a portion of the elevated Metro rail under construction near Lady Shri Ram College in South Delhi collapsed, bringing down a huge mass of steel and concrete.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation chief E Sreedharan put in his papers shortly after taking moral responsibility for the accident. But Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit asked him to continue, saying, earlier, Metro ought to be careful.
The accident took place on the 20-km Central Secretariat-Badarpur line, which runs mostly over ground, through crowded residential and commercials areas like Lajpat Nagar, Kailash Colony and Nehru Place.
It was working to a deadline of June 2010. But it may not be able to make it in time now. “The delay could be of three or more months,” said Sreedharan, adding, “it would still be ready in time for the Commonwealth games.”
An inquiry has been ordered into the accident. The dead were identified as a junior engineer of Gammon India, the engineering firm contracted the construction work for this stretch, and five workers.
They were among a team of around 30 people at the site, and were about to finish their shift working through the night. Six of them died and 15 were in hospital with injuries.
This is the second such accident on the Metro Rail network. The last was in Laxmi Nagar in East Delhi in 2008, also on a Sunday morning. The toll was lower though at two.
“The Laxmi Nagar accident was the first major jolt (to the DMRC’s image)… Sunday’s accident is even bigger jolt,” Sreedharan said, addressing a news conference.
“This is a more serious accident.” Sreedharan said the accident happened because a 4.22-m cantilever, which picks up and places pre-fabricated segments together to form a span between two piers, collapsed.
Metro Rail sources said the cap of pier (pillar) no 67 could not stand the weight of the cantilever and girder and gave way. This pier has had a history – it had developed cracks in February.
Assistant vice-president Gammon India Umesh Gupta said, “I don’t think Gammon would like to give any comment right now. The DMRC has already given its comment. The Government of Delhi has constituted a committee to carry out investigation.”
Sreedharan said responsibility for the accident would be fixed on the basis of the findings of the four-member committee, expected to give its report in 10 days. The accident may derail Metro’s phase II expansion plans. It has to add six more corridors to the three existing metro lines of about 67-kilometre, before the Commonwealth Games.