The central government said on Friday that it would not sacrifice the safety of the Delhi Metro rail project on the altar of speed — even if it meant that some sections of the Metro network remained unfinished before the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Pushed into a corner over a spate of recent accidents, Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy clarified that while the government wanted to complete certain projects before the Games, it would not sacrifice the quality or safety of construction of projects for faster implementation under any circumstance.
Replying to a discussion on the Metro Railways (Amendment) Bill 2009, which was unanimously passed in the Rajya Sabha, Reddy said: “The Commonwealth Games are only a big peg on which we hang the targets of major civic projects. Heavens will not fall if we do not complete these things. But whether Commonwealth Games happen here or not, we need to do these things.”
The Bill seeks to provide legal cover to all Metro projects found viable in cities with populations of over a million.
During the past 11 years of construction of metro lines, 130 accidents have taken place in which 102 people have died.
Responding to members who cited the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG’s) criticism of the Metro project, Reddy said the CAG did make some critical observations while heaping “very high praise” on the entire project. “The CAG did not cast any aspersions and did not talk of irregularities,” Reddy said.