Debating India

New Metro comes to New Delhi today

Saturday 2 July 2005, by VIVEK BHATNAGAR*Gaurav

NEW DELHI: Walking down the staircase of the brand new Central Secretariat station of Delhi Metro on Friday, most visitors were wondering what exactly lay ahead. And rather than blinking in the dark, their eyes lit up as they reached the concourse level where they were greeted by a broad well-lit walkway and a whiff of fresh cool breeze.

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ALL SET: Security checks under way on the eve of the new Metro run. PHOTO: RAJEEV BHATT

The black-and-light-grey granite shone brightly in the light diffused by a white false ceiling. The presence of workers wiping the floors clean and others busy fixing various nuts and bolts reminded one that the launch of this new underground section connecting this station in the heart of New Delhi to Kashmere Gate in Old Delhi was just a day away.

Though finishing touches were being given until late on Friday night for the inauguration by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Saturday morning, the stations were already glistening. The assorted signs and various illuminated information and advertisement boards were in place. And escalators and elevators were being run constantly to check their operational efficiency. In fact, even the trains running on the Delhi University-Kashmere Section were being run all the way to Central Secretariat — albeit without passengers — to see that they are ready for D-Day.

While almost all the stations have the same clean, well-lit look, the two big intersection stations at Connaught Place — or Rajiv Chowk — and Kashmere Gate have been provided with additional skylights and natural lighting since they run deep. At the Connaught Place station, which has come up where the Central Park once existed, half the area was being spruced up on Friday for operations, while the other half would witness work on the Dwarka-Barakhamba line till its inauguration in December this year.

Here the centre of attraction is the dome over the main concourse that has been treated with a noise-absorbing spray imported from the Netherlands. Also, it has a gallery all around which can be accessed without purchasing a ticket and from where one can have a look at the landscaping and water body outside with the colonnade of Connaught Place providing a majestic backdrop. The fixed glass windows are electronically controlled and can be opened at the press of a button in the event of an emergency. This concourse area has also been equipped with a special echo-proof public address system. At Kashmere Gate station, too, a beautiful dome has been crafted to bring daylight into the concourse area.

But as DMRC Managing Director E. Sreedharan puts it, "it is what lies behind that is more important’’. The new section claims to be the safest and most secure. At each of the stations on the way, 50 high-resolution cameras have been installed for monitoring the Metro workers and passengers alike and the visual coloured footage is transmitted to the Police Control Room.

Then the probability of a complete power breakdown on the system has been reduced to virtually nil through a number of measures. Powered by the Northern Grid, each station will have two electric auxiliary sub-stations, working one at a time, the other remaining on stand-by. Should there be a grid failure, the system can fall back on gas turbines that provide electricity to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister’s residence and Parliament House among other VVIP buildings.

The underground stations, which are kept at a comfortable 24 degrees Celsius and 70 per cent humidity level by the air-conditioners, also have special fire prevention, detection and suppression systems in place. All stations have a dedicated fireman’s entrance, fire detectors in all rooms, a six-minute full-evacuation plan, smoke-free paths, and have been constructed with materials which are capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius for up to one hour.

And with reversible flow fan technology in place, wires capable of withstanding 900 degrees temperature and the sub-stations being oil-less, the Director (Electrical), Satish Kumar, says: "The possibility of an Uphaar tragedy (which had left 59 people dead in a cinema hall fire eight years ago) does not exist here.’’

See online : The Hindu

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