Deepening the row over the airport link, the Delhi Metro has accused the Reliance Infra-backed operator of the Airport Express link of not conducting a single safety inspection of the corridor’s civil work for nearly 16 months when the line was operational.
In a letter sent to the Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) in the first week of this month, the Metro claimed this failure violated the concessionaire agreement. It alleged that the company deliberately forced suspension of operations.
A DAMEPL spokesperson rejected the charge, saying independent inspections have proved that defects in the bearing and structure were caused by deviation from design during construction, which the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) managed.
In a letter to the DAMEPL’s Director, DMRC Director (Works) Jitendra Tyagi said no inspection was carried out on the 22.7-km long corridor till mid-May 2012 which violated Sub Article 20.1 of the concessionaire agreement.
“Failing to do so, the consortium flouted the concessionaire agreement by overlooking the inspection clause — provisions incorporated in the Civil Structures Maintenance Manual,” the letter stated.
The letter was in reply to an earlier communication by the DAMEPL pointing out defects in the corridor’s civil work that was managed by the DMRC.
Besides pointing out the inspection failures, the DMRC letter alleged that the operator was driven by motivations when, between May 17 and June 2, it pushed for suspension of operations citing problems in bearings as a safety hazard.
“The sole intent (of the concessionaire) — preparing to close the operations, to give wrongfully purported notice of material breach to DMRC and to run away from fulfilling its obligations under the agreement. Such breach of agreement amounts to termination of the agreement but DMRC is committed to keep the line operational for the larger good,” DMRC letter stated.
The concessionaire agreement’s maintenance manual lists out three mandatory inspections classified as routine, principal and special, Delhi Metro officials pointed out. Officials said a routine inspection of viaducts and bearings was to be carried out at least once a year and by a qualified bridge engineer, but preferably twice a year.
The first principal inspection was schedule before expiry of the defect liability period of the DMRC works contractor or within six months after completion and opening of the section which was earlier. Principal inspection was supposed to be undertaken before August 2011 — within six months of the opening. Special inspection was mandated if any defects were