New Delhi: In a dramatic announcement that came on his birthday, Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan on Sunday said he was quitting from the post owning moral responsibility for an accident at its construction site which claimed five lives.
Sreedharan, who turned 77, announced his decision at a crowded press conference in New Delhi on Sunday afternoon, soon after his visit to the site of the collapse of an under construction bridge of Delhi Metro in Zamrudpur near south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar.
‘Serious accident’: Metro chief E. Sreedharan (left) at the accident site in south Delhi. At least 20 people were injured in the mishap. Atul Yadav / PTI
“As the head of the Delhi Metro Rail Corp., I take moral responsibility for the incident... So I have decided to resign and I have put in papers and I have sent it to lieutenant governor Tejinder Khanna and Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit,” he said.
Asked whether his decision will delay the Metro projects which are scheduled to be completed before the Commonwealth Games, he said, “The views you are making may be correct but my personal conviction in this matter cannot be compromised.”
The Delhi government said it will not take any hasty decision on the resignation handed in by Sreedharan.
“We are not to take any hasty decision on the resignation of Sreedharan,” said P.K. Tripathi, principal secretary to the chief minister.
Five people were killed and 20 injured when part of an elevated track bed under construction by the Delhi Metro collapsed.
Sunday’s collapse was the second fatal accident in nine months on the Delhi Metro project.
The accident occurred on a particularly tricky section, where a 4km metal cantilever was being raised to attach to a long section of concrete girders, all of which tumbled down in a V-shape pile.
The area was cordoned off and cranes worked to clear the rubble to reopen the road underneath. A committee, comprising engineers and experts, was appointed to find the cause of the accident and submit its report within 10 days, Sreedharan said.
Sreedharan noted the casualty toll could have been higher if the accident had not happened so early in the morning.
The Metro’s first three lines opened in 2002 and cover a total of 75km.
Authorities are rushing to complete several extensions totalling about 100km before the October 2010 Commonwealth Games. Sreedharan said the project would be delayed by at least three months.
The accident caused damage estimated at Rs6 crore, he said. In October last year, two people were killed and at least 11 injured in a similar accident at a Metro construction site.
Bloomberg and AP contributed to this story.