Context: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is executing one of the Fastest developing and Flagship projects of India. The DMRC has accelerated the construction work on the Delhi Metro’s Phase-4 project and have awarded civil construction contracts for the same. Our Team reached out to them for an exclusive insight into this and about the safe & secure Metro services post lockdown along with the progress of ongoing construction work on the DMRC’s projects.
Rail Analysis: Please tell us more about your journey with DMRC so far and your experience leading the DMRC today along with multiple project initiatives in Delhi and adjoining cities?
Dr. Mangu Singh: I have been associated with DMRC since the beginning of the organization. The initial days were full of challenges. When we started Phase – I, India had only one operational Metro in Kolkata, where I too have worked. Kolkata Metro was a lesson for us. We at Delhi Metro tried our best to avoid all the things that went wrong in Kolkata Metro.
” Being the first major Metro project in the country, every hurdle we faced was unique and there was no contemporary project in India for reference. We had the opportunity to come up with our own innovative solutions. We wanted to be an example in efficient project management and set high standards for our construction practices. We for the first time in India, introduced barricading of the construction sites, cleaning the tyres of trucks that carried construction waste, dust control system, traffic management around the sites and other safety measures. Now, they became standard practices in the construction field in the country. “
I took charge as MD, DMRC in the beginning of Phase – III, which was equal to Phase – I and Phase – II put together in terms of network length, and the routes passed through one of the most congested parts of the NCR. Further, we had serious safety issues in construction of Phase – II. Overcoming all the constraints, we completed the Phase – III project safely in almost half that time compared to Phase – I & II. It has been one of the most challenging projects of my career. During this project, the Delhi Metro has witnessed major changes in terms of technology in both project and operations.
After I took charge, we have also focused on our consultancy projects. We have already built the Jaipur Metro and Noida Metro. Currently, we are constructing the Mumbai and Patna Metro projects. We have also bagged the consultancy project of Noida Metro’s Phase – II. DMRC is also a consultant in the Dhaka Metro project. Our efficient teams are executing these projects with high standards.
Manpower is the biggest asset of DMRC. I believe that learning should never stop. Recently, we have completely revamped our training infrastructure and launched the Delhi Metro Rail Academy with enhanced facilities and streamlined the training structure. Apart from training our staff, we are also training officers from other Metros.
Unfortunately, we are going through the Covid – 19 pandemic. The pandemic certainly caused a big setback for public transport across the country. This is an unprecedented challenge. However, we have been able to operate the metro, keeping passenger safety a top priority. The current arrangement of limited capacity is undoubtedly causing us financial losses, but our focus is on providing safe services.
Covid Safety Protocol
With commitment and hard work of all the members of the DMRC family, we have managed to build a brand for the organisation. We earned a reputation of excellence in both project and operations, and the challenge is to retain that image.
Rail Analysis: As the Metro Services have resumed now, what are the technologies you have adopted to reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19 virus?
Dr. Mangu Singh: The Metro services resumed as the government permitted the operations with limited capacity and all the covid safety norms in place. We made all necessary arrangements to ensure the safety of passengers. The new protocol of metro operations does not require much technological intervention, rather it requires changes in logistical and manpower deployment in operations. We still continue to use the same system and same technology. Trains are being operated as per pre-covid times frequency so that maximum space is available. We have also deployed a greater number of staff in stations to monitor and manage the crowd. The sanitisation measures have been enhanced. Frequent checks are being done inside stations and trains to ensure that covid safety protocol is followed. Those who are found violating are being fined.
Rail Analysis: What is the current status of the Phase-4 of Delhi Metro project? How are you managing work for the project during Covid-19 period? What are the major safety precautions being followed by the DMRC staff and workers at the project sites?
Dr. Mangu Singh: We have already started construction work on three priority corridors of the Phase – IV project. Work is in progress in full pace. We certainly faced minor hurdles during the lockdowns. There was a shortage of workers when they left the city after the lockdown was announced. Most of them have returned once the lockdown restrictions were eased. Those who stayed back were provided with accommodation, food and medical supplies. Currently, we have enough workforce to carry on with all the ongoing works. All the covid safety norms such as sanitisation, temperature check, mask wearing are strictly followed at our construction sites. We have also organised vaccination camps for workers at some of our construction sites. We are in touch with the local administrations to organise more such camps in future.
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During the first lockdown in 2020, we could not carry out any construction work initially. Hence, we utilised that period for the planning and designing activities related to Phase – IV. We held online meetings and had discussions with contractors. Drawings and other relevant information was shared through online file sharing platforms. Our internal file work was also done through e-Office which enabled us to work from anywhere. Further, we have also implemented a custom-made project monitoring software known as the Integrated Project Monitoring Software (IPMS) for monitoring the progress of Phase 4 corridors and the Patna Metro.
” Through IPMS, all the stages of project planning and implementation right from the tender stage to revenue operation of each corridor will be monitored including the issues of work front availability such as land availability, tree transplantation and shifting of services and design status. “
Rail Analysis: What are your future plans for undertaking works on the remaining three corridors of the Phase-4 project?
Dr. Mangu Singh: They are currently with the government for consideration. Once we receive necessary approvals, we will proceed with further process.
Rail Analysis: Is there any progress on Metrolite or Metro Neo projects in Delhi? Please brief us which one transport mode will be more feasible & cost effective for implementation in Delhi?
Dr. Mangu Singh: Metrolite and Metro Neo are preferable for areas with lesser population. In terms of cost, they are cheaper than Metro. However, the selection of any mode of public transport for a city or town, depends on many other factors which are assessed in a detailed project report. We have proposed Metrolite on Rithala – Narela corridor.
Rail Analysis: What are the opportunities available today for the industry in the DMRC projects? What are the initiatives DMRC have taken to encourage the participation of local vendors in the Delhi Metro projects?
Dr. Mangu Singh: We at DMRC are pushing for indigenisation wherever there is a scope. All of our projects have high involvement of local industries. Almost 75% of components in Rolling Stock are already indigenised. As part of the Make in India initiatives, we are procuring most of the components of Metro systems from within the country. The contract conditions of DMRC make it mandatory for all foreign bidders to have the participation of a local partner.
” For the first time in India, DMRC along with BEL is developing an indigenously built CBTC (Communication Based Train Control) based signalling technology for Metro railway. The i-ATS, which is an important sub system of the Signalling system has already been launched. This prototype system as well as a state-of-the-art laboratory for further developing other sub- systems of indigenous CBTC technology has been established at Shastri Park. ”
ATS (Automatic Train Supervision) is a computer-based system, which manages train operations. This system is indispensable for high density operations such as the Metro, where services are scheduled every few minutes. i-ATS is the indigenously developed technology, which will significantly reduce the dependence of Indian Metros on foreign vendors dealing with such technologies.
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