Several cracks have appeared on some pillars of the Delhi Metro’s busiest line that carries 800,000 commuters a day between Dwarka and Noida, with experts calling for immediate repairs to avert a disaster.
Two weeks ago, Hindustan Times noticed cracks on seven pillars (numbers 25-30 and 70) between the RK Ashram Marg, Jhandewalan and Karol Bagh stations of the Blue Line and sought the views of three engineers.
After visiting the sites, the three — two of them structural engineers and one civil engineer — said the cracks had developed due to faulty design and use of poor construction material.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which sent a team to inspect the cracks after being alerted by HT, denied the fault was serious.
“These pillars were found to be in proper shape with no structural defects,” Jitendra Tyagi, director (works), DMRC, said.
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But, the engineers that HT consulted have a different view.
“There are cracks on piers that take a lot of pressure from the movement of trains. If left unattended, it can lead to the collapse of the overhead section,” said Pavan Gupta, a transport consultant with IIT- Kharagpur.
He was earlier a consultant with the Delhi government’s Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure Centre.
“I don’t know how they (DMRC) missed these cracks. These show poor workmanship, design and planning on part of DMRC and may cause disaster if repairs are not carried out immediately,” said a senior civil engineer of the Central Public Works Department, who had inspected the pillars on HT’s request. The officer didn’t wish to be identified.
DMRC’s Tyagi dismissed the comments as alarmist and said it was natural for any structure to develop cracks.
“The moment cracks are developed in concrete, steel enforcements take the load. We did not find any such cracks on the line during a recent check,” he said.
Sudhir Vohra, who is a structural engineer and an architect, warned that the Dwarka-Vaishali-Noida corridor could go the Airport line way.
Last year, the high-speed Airport Metro Express was forced to suspend operations for six months after cracks developed on the tracks and pillars, which were attributed to shoddy civil work. Though back on tracks, the express train now runs at a slower speed.
This is not the first time that structural issues have cropped up on the Blue Line. On September 16, cracks on two pillars near the Noida City Centre station led to the sagging of the platform. The station had to be shut for two days and even now, only one of the two platforms is in service as repairs continue.