The couple along with their twin children were travelling towards Hebbal when the metro pillar collapsed on the bike.
The couple along with their twin children were travelling towards Hebbal when the metro pillar collapsed on the bike.

Bengaluru metro fatality raises questions on quality, answerability

This tragedy calls for change and the adoption of best practices, like strong, high barriers and, preferably, traffic being diverted to parallel roads.

The tragic deaths of a young woman techie and her toddler, who were crushed under a metal Metro pillar cage, have left Bengaluru in shock and fear. It has exposed how vulnerable the public is and raised concern over the quality of engineering of this premier project being implemented across the city. The authorities have reacted along expected lines. CM Basavaraj Bommai has ordered a high-level inquiry and announced compensation, and so have the Metro authorities, besides seeking an independent probe by the Indian Institute of Science. FIRs were filed against eight officials and engineers from Nagarjuna Construction Company, the contractor, and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited. Engineers are now saying that the cage of TMT bars may have been unwieldy—standing 16.5 m tall and weighing 30–40 tonnes—and that the design and engineering may need to be revised.

This is not the first accident involving the Metro project, with several workers losing their lives in the line of duty, either falling to death or being crushed by cranes or falling bars and cables. There have also been accidents involving passersby. All these point to the construction companies’ lack of safety protocols. Several failings are apparent in how these humongous projects are taken up—often, traffic is allowed to move barely metres away from construction sites, with low barricades as the only protection. Contractors also come under severe pressure from the government to hurry up with projects, leading to laxity and negligence. Besides this, built-in clauses impose meagre fines on the contractor for accidents and fatalities. This tragedy calls for change and the adoption of best practices, like strong, high barriers and, preferably, traffic being diverted to parallel roads. Citizens are now voicing fears about the Metro’s safety, the quality of the structures and whether there are any weak links along the entire track length.

There is also a public cry for justice for the shattered family. The child’s grandfather has declared that he will ensure the guilty are brought to book, and in this, the senior citizen should be encouraged, with the public taking up his cause. Regrettably, suing a government or public body is still not fashionable in India, allowing them to get away with heinous crimes. At most, officials are transferred or suspended, and the issue stagnates at the investigation stage for years.

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