Don't rush it

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) is reported to be in a tearing hurry to inaugurate the Bangalore Metro on Ugadi. This, even before the metro is ready.

Construction work on several stations is yet to be completed. Some stations might be ready to receive the train coaches but they are not yet equipped to handle commuters. Escalators, ticket counters, flooring — these are among several things that are half-done.

Of greatest concern is that the Metro is yet to be issued the safety certificate by the commissioner for railway safety. A war of words has erupted over whether BMRCL has even bothered to apply for a safety certificate. A BMRCL official’s statement that “documents for fire, lift and escalator clearance will be provided in due course of time” to the CRS reveals that safety of commuters is not the priority of the government at this point. All that ministers and officials seem preoccupied with at the moment is in getting the chief minister to flag off the Metro on Ugadi.

Perhaps it is his shaky chair that is prompting Yeddyurappa to rush the inauguration.

Beset with political problems, the chief minister is desperate for a positive achievement to show off to the people. It is true that the BJP government provided the momentum to the long-delayed Metro work and the inauguration of the service will provide the beleaguered chief minister with a great photo-opportunity. However, should the people of Karnataka have to take the daily risk of riding an unsafe Metro so that the whims and insecurities of the chief minister can be pandered to?

The people of Bangalore have endured traffic jams on account of the construction work on the Metro for five years now. During that period, successive governments seemed to be in no hurry to meet deadlines and get the work done. But now the BJP  government wants the Metro to begin running on Ugadi to take due credit. Postponing the inauguration until the work is complete will mean putting it off by a couple of months. This is a wait that is certainly sensible and well worth it. Millions of rupees have been sunk into the project and rushing the inauguration at this juncture could compromise quality and safety standards, putting at risk the lives of millions of commuters. The Metro must be flagged off only when it is ready and safe to ride.

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