Did some pillars of the Delhi Metro’s Airport Express line not meet the standards?

The Delhi Metro has admitted that 20 pillars on the much hyped line, connecting Connaught Place with the Indira Gandhi Airport and expected to begin operations in September, needed strengthening as an “abundant precaution“.

More surprising is the fact that Metro had to use over 20 times more steel and over double the concrete used initially in the pillars to give them desired strength, reveals an RTI reply.

Ironically, “no agency was held responsible” for the glaring shortcomings. The entire strengthening process costed about Rs. 6 crore, the reply sent to Architect Sudhir Vohra said.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. The entire Metro network had about 85 pillars with shoddy design which I could locate and needed replacement or strengthening. They (DMRC) have also accepted it in a series of RTI replies to me,” Mr. Vohra told PTI.

The pillars are built of basically steel and concrete. Their design and construction is extremely important for safety of trains running on them at high speeds, experts say.

“The quantity of Reinforcement Steel used in the original construction (between pile cap and top of pier cap) is 441051.59 kilograms. The quantity of Reinforcement Steel used in the revise/altered construction is 9110978.59 kilograms (nearly 20 times),” the reply said.

Vohra claimed the use of such huge amount of steel and concrete is wastage of money.

E. Sreedharan, CMD DMRC in a letter to Mr. Vohra last year accepted that “DMRC is aware of the deficiency in reinforcement detailing in some of the cantilever piers. All such designs are under review.”

Nearly a year ago, six persons including five labourers and a 28-year-old engineer of Gammon India, the contractor of the project, were killed when a pillar of under-construction bridge gave in near Lady Shriram College in Lajpat Nagar.

Following the incident, Metro had ordered re-check of all cantilever structures built in Phase-II from safety and quality point of view by independent structural experts.

Earlier in October 2008, two persons were killed and 16 others injured when a portion of an under—construction bridge of the Metro collapsed and fell on a bus on Vikas Marg in Lakshmi Nagar area in east Delhi.

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