Snag hampers Metro rescue efforts

Rescue efforts that followed a technical snag that stalled a metro train in the tunnel on Tuesday morning was far from smooth as the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) not only failed to take the cue from the previous disasters but also ignored suggestions by security experts.

Sources said the rescue operation on Tuesday went awry due to lack of proper communication system, admitting that the walkie-talkies given to drivers did not function underground.  Ironically, the snag in communication system was brought to light during a disaster management mock drill in July 2012.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had asked the DMRC to install repeaters, which boost signals required for the smooth functioning of the wireless handsets or walkie talkies, technically known as Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA).

Asked if the repeaters had been installed, the DMRC tried to evade the question saying it cannot disclose the inner functioning of the metro for security reasons.

The source said many public facilities like hospitals, fire service and civic bodies use TETRA network, but communication over the walkie-talky could be jammed if the signal were to be weak in some places. This would invariably hamper rescue operations.

Commuters also complained that the Metro lacks facilities like first aid kit on the train for emergency situations such as on Tuesday.

“My relatives came to Delhi for the first time and they unfortunately boarded the stalled train. My aunt is asthmatic and when lights went out inside the train, she felt claustrophobic and started panting. But there was no first aid on the train,” said Rukmani Seth, a south Delhi resident.

“There was a stampede-like situation. Had someone got seriously injured, what the metro would have done then?”

The spokesperson responded by saying that first aid kits are provided in the station as trains take a minute or two to commute between two stations. Tuesday morning’s breakdown disrupted services on the busy Jahangirpuri-Huda City Centre line for nearly two hours, affecting thousands of peak hour commuters.

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