Monday, December 06, 2021

Interview With DMRC MD: Grappling with limited resources, lack of workforce, says Mangu Singh

In recent months, the Delhi Metro has been grappling with frequent technical glitches on the Blue Line while racing against time to wrap up its Phase III project.

Written by Sweta Dutta | New Delhi |
February 13, 2017 2:38:21 am
Delhi metro, Managing director mangu singh, metro network, delhi blue line, delhi pink line, delhi metro managing director, DMRC MD, delhi, delhi news, indian express, india news Managing Director Mangu Singh talks about the challenges of running a Metro network that is set to double by the end of this year.

In recent months, the Delhi Metro has been grappling with frequent technical glitches on the Blue Line while racing against time to wrap up its Phase III project. Managing Director Mangu Singh talks about the challenges of running a Metro network that is set to double by the end of this year

Never before has the Delhi Metro missed deadlines on so many corridors. What went wrong with Phase III?

We have not really missed deadlines. We are actually in a Catch 22 situation — if we kept a longer completion period, contractors would have taken it lightly and pushed deadlines further. Now that we have a tighter deadline and have missed it by a few months due to certain unavoidable reasons, we are being pulled up for the delays. The simple volume of work in Phase III is phases I and II put together. While construction was completed, we had to lay out an extensive length of tracks and signalling systems in the final year of the project. The number of skilled jobs for this has not grown according to the volume of work because once the project ends, these jobs will cease to exist. So we are grappling with limited resources.

Then construction was stalled for 15 days in November due to a spike in pollution levels. Initially, we did not know it would be only for that period and after waiting for a few days, migrant labourers left the city to go back home. It has been very difficult to get the entire strength back at work. That pushed our December deadline for the ITO to Kashmere Gate corridor. To add to that, we have not been able to acquire an inch of land under the new Land Acquisition Act.

Are you still facing a labour crunch?

Absolutely. Availability of labour has gone down sharply. As compared to previous years, we do not have as much labour supply, whereas the scale of construction has gone up. Though no formal study has been done on the reasons behind it, we believe that due to better social sector schemes such as MNREGA, the migrant labour force from UP and Bihar are not coming to Delhi as much as they used to.

There have been frequent technical glitches on Blue Line. Can you explain why?

The Blue Line (Dwarka Sector 21 to Noida City Centre/ Vaishali) is very different from all other existing Metro corridors and is only comparable to the Yellow Line (Samaypur Badli to HUDA City Centre) in terms of its length and ridership. While the Yellow Line is mostly underground, the Blue Line is largely overhead. This leaves the overhead wires exposed to temperature fluctuations and pollution… Sometimes, kites get stuck on the overhead electrification line… This makes it more vulnerable to damage. But we have been analysing the nature of the glitches and addressing them in great detail.

By when do you expect to roll out Phase III?

I am very confident that Phase III will be operational by the end of this year, except the East Delhi section of the 59-km Pink Line (Majlis Park to Shiv Vihar). The completion of the corridor from Lajpat Nagar to Shiv Vihar is subject to land acquisition of two plots.

While Metro takes credit for reducing carbon emissions, construction at Metro sites have drawn flak for adding to air pollution. Any comments?

It is not true that Metro construction has been adding to air pollution. Following the 15-day ban on construction in November, I had written to the Lt-Governor pointing out that Metro construction is on barely one per cent of the total land in Delhi. Right from the start, Delhi Metro has followed best practices in ensuring that our dumper trucks have washed tyres before they leave the construction sites, so that they do not carry loose mud on to the roads. We dispose of lakhs of cubic metres of dug-out earth outside the city. Metro sites throw up dust only at the beginning and end of construction. What really needs to be looked into are the kachha pavements and loose soil around trees that is left uncovered all over the city. They too contribute to pollution.

Have you begun preparations for  Phase IV?

It is yet to be approved by the Centre. As of now, we are not thinking about it. Once we get the sanctions, we will start planning. There is no hurry. We first have to roll out Phase III.

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