A person does not belong to a place until he has someone dead under the ground. Does that apply to Delhi Metro, too? On the Sunday morning of July 12, a pillar on the partially-constructed Metro bridge in the tony GK-I had suddenly collapsed killing six. On another Sunday, in 2008,
a chunk of the under-construction Metro flyover had come crushing over a blueline bus in Laxmi Nagar killing its driver. Why go so far in the past? Last Sunday (what is about Sundays and the Metro?) a power failure at the ‘Blue Line’ resulted in a near stampede at Rajiv Chowk station. At least three commuters fractured their ankles. However, these incidents, horrible as they were, would be just a dot in the commemorative coffee table volume, 100 Years of Delhi Metro.
To me, the landmark occasion that made Delhi Metro truly Delhi’s was not that December morning in 2002 when the Metro rail first ran for about five miles from Shahdara to Tis Hazari. The D-moment instead fell on 9.20 am, July 18, 2006, when Paramjit Singh Kaur, 25, the resident of Ganesh Nagar, jumped onto the Metro tracks from platform number two of the Chandni Chowk station, thereby stopping the traffic on the Central Secretariat-Vishwavidyalaya route for over 40 minutes.
That was the first suicide at the Delhi Metro. Suicide, of course, is an extremely private act of ultimate despair usually carried out in the seclusion of locked bedrooms. But when troubled souls find that sort of privacy, say, at the top of Qutub Minar or on the platform of Chandni Chowk Metro station, it means that the said landmark has finally arrived. That it is now home to the city’s people. Despite its occasional lapses, the Metro has become a rare public service in Delhi that is clean, respects our time and hase made our commuting lives less uncomfortable. If all goes well, the Metro will tomorrow start its services from Noida. This is like a dream coming true, at least for everyone living on that side of the DND flyover.
And one day the Metro will reach even to Vaishali which is beyond the Delhi-UP border at Anand Vihar. Gosh, it gives me goose pimples to realise that a few more years later it would be tough to imagine that once there was no Khan Market Metro stop, no Metro rail route to Mehrauli, no elevated Metro tracks in Nehru Place and no Metro station in Saket. Just as today it is difficult to digest that once there was no Metro to Old Delhi.