New Delhi: The Government on Tuesday faced another embarrassment when an under-construction foot overbridge collapsed injuring 27 people outside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, the main venue for the Commonwealth Games. Four people out of the 27 injured are said to be in critical condition.
Principal Secretary of the Public Works Department (PWD) K K Sharma told CNN-IBN that the incident happened when a slab was being laid; the work however was being carried out by a private contractor. The PWD believes this is a case of design failure and claims the bridge will be rebuilt in 12 days. But the incident yet again raises serious concerns about the infrastructure for the Games.
PWD Chief Engineer Rakesh Mishra admitted that the incident was a "setback" but expressed confidence that the project would be completed before the Games that start on October 3.
The confidence in the Games is breaking down- quite literally. The bridge, whose construction was to be completed soon, was to connect the parking lot of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium where the opening and closing functions of Commonwealth Games would be held.
"27 people were injured and four are still critical. Our first effort is to give proper medical treatment to those injured, "said DCP, South District, Delhi HG Dhaliwal.
The injured were taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
"We have ordered an inquiry. The report will come within three weeks or so. The contractor has been blacklisted. The injured are being taken care of, "said Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
Interestingly, Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, who heads the Group of Ministers on the Commonwealth Games, sought to blame the rains for the collapse.
"There have been heavy rains for last 20 days. I don't have much detail about the collapse. But I am sure the Games will be absolutely world class," he said.
With less than two weeks to go for the CWG, this could not have come at a worse time. In July, a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report had slammed various agencies of the Delhi government; levelling some serious charges of corruption. According to the report the PWD had inflated cost for various projects to mislead authorities. An amount of Rs 3. 68 crore was wrongfully added to justify transportation costs. An amount of Rs 25.84 crore for labour was deemed 'unjustified' by the CVC report. The uneconomic designs by private consultants had led to higher than usual costs. And finally the test done to evaluate the strength of the pavements was not done.
The collapse incident coming days after two Taiwanese nationals were injured in a firing incident near Delhi's Jama Masjid area, does not do any good to the image of the Games city. The first sets of foreign athletes would start arriving in Delhi from September 23. Now the best Delhi can do is to keep its fingers crossed.