In a continued showing of gross negligence in international construction, official reports from India this week announced that cost cutting measures circumvented many construction standards and safety protocols in order to cut construction costs. The same construction site under the supervision of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) that experienced the worst accident in its history on July 12 suffered another setback to rescue operations when the rescue cranes collapsed, injuring 5 workers.
The official report, announced by Saugata Roy, minister of state in India’s Ministry of Urban Development, revealed that in order to save money on the project, the construction company contracted to perform the work was also given the task of designing parts of the bridge. This presents not only a conflict of skills, but a conflict of interest; the construction company has it in their best interest to save as much money as possible on materials and construction. The construction company in question, Gammon India Ltd, maintains that costs were not cut and that all safety standards were followed to the letter. The question of the legitimacy of this claim is up for debate, however. During the first phase of construction for the Delhi Metro, the design was performed by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and its consultants while construction was carried out by separate contractors. However, during the second phase the duties of construction and design were combined, creating a possibility for a serious construction site accident.
The initial construction site accident occurred on July 12, when a section of railbed bridge collapsed, killing 6 total workers and injuring approximately 15. This accident followed the October 2008 construction accident in which a crane placing concrete slabs collapsed killing two and injuring 30 others. Opinions differ on the true cause of these construction accidents; negligence and cost cutting measures have been officially announced, though there are some who say that these factors are part of a larger problem of rushing the work in the first place. In anticipation of the the 2010 Commonwealth Games, scheduled to be held in New Delhi beginning October 3rd, 2010, the government is pushing the metro project with haste. This will be the largest multi-sport event conducted to date in Delhi and India, and the municipal government wants to present a modern transit system to the world’s visitors as they arrive and travel throughout the city.
However, despite all the pressure and money funneled into the project, progress is not being made as fast as the city would like. With setbacks such as these fatal construction accidents and the looming possibility of several construction accident lawsuits, completion of construction is on a tight time line. It is almost certain that there will be legal action against Gammon India Ltd., as family members have likely contacted a construction accident lawyer. Indeed, Gammon India Ltd. been involved in legal proceedings in the past, though it is unclear what the future holds for the company.