Delhi Airport Metro Derailed By Major Civil Defect

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   (2012-07-07 00:00:00)

New Delhi: The national capitalís showpiece Airport Metro Express Line will be shut beginning Sunday owing to "major civil defect".

"The Airport Metro Express Line has a major civil structure defect. Most of the piers of the line have developed cracks. It will take over couple of weeks for the line to be operational," sources said on Saturday.

"The Airport Metro services will be discontinued due to safety concerns. A thorough safety check will be carried out before the line gets operational," the source said further.

They added that defect in civil structure, including cracks in pillars, have been detected at 250 places across the 23-km line which runs between New Delhi Railway Station and Dwarka Sector 21, and connects the Indira Gandhi International Airport with the city.

The Airport Metro Express Line is used by over 15,000 commuters daily. The last service will run today at 11 pm.

Urban Development Ministry Secretary told reporters today that a high-level committee has been set-up to probe the defect, and will likely submit report in 10 days.

Stating public safety is paramount, the Secretary said repairs cannot be carried out it the operations continue.

He said the line would likely resume operations by the end of August.

The government will also impose penalty on the civil contractor, the official added.

Reliance Infrastructure-led consortium, the concessionaire for the Airport Metro, said the line was not being shut temporarily due to losses, as being claimed in the media.

In a recent annual inspection, the consortium found that out of 250 of the 2,100 bearings (bearings are concrete structures on top of pillars on which girders rest) on the elevated corridors are "shaky".

According to informed sources, a high-level meeting was held last week between the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Indian Railways regarding the civil defects in the high-speed Metro line.

"The Reliance Infra-led consortium laid only the tracks and it was DMRC which built the structure. Thus, the responsibility for the defects lies with DMRC and the government and not the Reliance Infra which only operates the line," the source added.

As per the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, on which the line was to be constructed and operated, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was to carry out the civil work and Reliance Infrastructure was to operate the line for 30 years and share the revenues.

DMRC in a statement said: "Metro Express Line intends to stop services from Sunday. We would be asking them to intimate the date by which they would be able to resume services after carrying out the rectifications required on the line."

The country's first Metro network based on a Public Private Partnership model, covers six stations -- New Delhi railway station, Shivaji Stadium, Dhaula Kuan, Delhi Aero City, IGI airport and Dwarka Sec-21.

Built at a cost of Rs 5,700 crore, the line is used by thousands of commuters - over 70 percent of them airport-bound.