A series of accidents in the Mumbai Metro being built by the Reliance group of Anil Ambani throws open the question whether private sector involvement, without accountability, can be the answer to our infrastructure needs
A 50-metre slab of the metro track on the Andheri-Kurla road on Tuesday collapsed. Two people, who were recued from under the debris, have been taken to Seven Hills hospital in Marol area of Andheri East. The Andheri-Kurla road is one of the busiest roads in Mumbai suburbs. A big crowd has gathered around the accident site. The police personnel are trying to clear the crowd. This puts a question mark on the already delayed project of Mumbai metro.
NDTV reports that one death has been confirmed in the accident. The channel says eight persons are injured. Fire department says two injured were taken to hospital. NDTV quoted fire officials as saying that two people who were trapped under the debris have been taken to hospital. CNN IBN reports that at least 10 persons are feared injured. However, reports are still a little sketchy about how many people may be injured.
This isn’t the first incident to affect the construction work on the city’s first metro line. In May 2008, a person was killed and another was seriously injured after a pile rig at a Mumbai Metro Rail construction site in Andheri (West) collapsed on an auto-rickshaw. In April this year part of a 400-tonne crane being used for work on the metro line, veered off the truck carrier and crashed on a portion of the Sarvodaya Hospital in Ghatkopar, says the Mumbai Mirror. In 2009, the near-collapse of a steel reinforcement cage and temporary scaffolding for a concrete pillar in Andheri (East) afternoon left four workers injured.
After today’s accident, traffic has already been affected on the Andheri-Kurla road where the incident has taken place, so it’s perhaps best to avoid the road if you can. The only saving grace perhaps is that there has been a respite from the rains which is allowing rescue work to proceed smoothly.
Rescue personnel have been rushed to the spot and are currently attempting to extricate people who may have been trapped. Most of those trapped are workers who were working on the metro line, the first of the city.
Earlier, on 19th July a crane holding up 100 tonnes of concrete gave way, causing the construction material to come crashing down from a height of 15 feet, crushing taxis, dumpers and an oil tanker. One person died. Simplex Construction was constructing the bridge. A few months ago, a portion of the Lalbaug flyover collapsed. Simplex was the contractor for that project too.
This series of quick accidents in high profile projects only exposes the fact that private sector involvement in infrastructure would lead to unpleasant fallout if accountability is not strictly enforced.