Sunday, June 13, 2010

Design Approval Entangled Airport Metro Link

Is the rush to meet deadlines before the Commonwealth Games taking a toll on meeting statutory requirements? An RTI reply received from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) gives such an impression. Replying to a query the DMRC has admitted approval from Research Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO) for RHEDA 2000, the high-speed transit system that is being implemented on Airport Line, in the capital is still awaited. If reports are to be believed, roughly 18km of a total of 46km track has already been laid on the Airport Line.

According to the 2009 amendment to the DMRC Act, a green signal from Lucknow RDSO is mandatory for projects. The RDSO acts on behalf of the railway ministry/Central government to take a call on technical and safety aspects of a project.

The DMRC answer came in response to an RTI application filed by Atul Gulati, who had asked a number of questions on the RHEDA 2000 system and the Airport Express Line. Gulati sought copies relating to selection and approval of the Airport Line. He backed this demand with queries on the status of approval from statutory authorities like RDSO.

DMRC claimed ‘‘design, construction, commissioning, testing and operation of the systems, including track work, are to be done by the concessionaire and not DMRC’’ and claimed it had no liability as far as getting approvals from statutory authorities is concerned. While it conceded that approvals for the Airport Line are still ‘‘in process’’, the corporation exempted itself from any responsibility in this regard saying it is the concessionaire in this case Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited who has to ensure all technical approvals are in place.

Sources in the concessionaire said RDSO approval is required during the final commissioning of the Airport Line. ‘‘The final run is in August and by then the RDSO go ahead is expected. Right now they are carrying out tests on tracks and coaches, which is why it is taking time,’’ the source claimed.