A two-member expert panel will fix responsibility on the construction defects that led to the suspension of the Airport Metro Express service last week, even as major flaws were found by an inspection committee.
Officials said the August-end deadline to re-start the 23-km service between New Delhi Railway Station and the Indira Gandhi International Airport, and further to Dwarka's Sector 21, may also not be met in view of the nature of flaws.
"We have constituted a two-member committee to inquire as to who are responsible for the poor construction in certain locations," said urban development secretary Sudhir Krishna.
The members are AK Gupta, additional member for works with the Indian Railways, and Deepti Vilasa, additional secretary in the urban development ministry.
Krishna said the joint inspection panel of Delhi Metro Rail Corp, Reliance Infra and the Indian Railways had given its findings, after inspecting some 540 out of the 2,100 bearings and found faults ranging from "minor-to-major" in each of them.
Bearings are concrete structures on top of the pillars, on which rest the girders, or the supporting beams.
"Some bearings have major defects. Specific rehabilitation measures for each bearing are needed, for which a detailed specific study is being done. We have also decided to check all the remaining bearings on the corridor," Krishna told a press conference in New Delhi.
The secretary said that since all bearings had to be inspected, the time given to rectify may not be enough.
"We will get a clear picture by end-July on how we are progressing. We want to meet the deadline, but we can't compromise on safety," Krishna said.
But adding a new twist to the matter, a top official of Reliance Infrastructure, which operates the airport line, insisted that the "civil defects were there from day one" in the Rs 5,700-crore project that was the country's first such public-private model.
"The nature of the defects is such that the design and drawings of the bearings have not been followed during the construction itself. Therefore, these defects existed from day one," said the company's chief executive for infrastructure, Sumit Banerjee.
"In fact both the defects of the bearings and the pillars existed from day one. We are now focusing on their rectification," Banerjee added, even as the managing director of the Delhi Metro, Mangu Singh, did not respond to the complaints of Reliance Infra.
As per the pact, Delhi Metro Rail Corp was to carry out the civil works of the project and Reliance Infra was to operate the line for 30 years and share revenues. The line was ferrying some 15,000 people daily, covering the distance in 21 minutes.