Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a section of the Delhi Metro’s Magenta Line on December 25 in Noida and travelled to Okhla bird sanctuary station.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath accompanied him at the inauguration of the Metro line. Delhi’s Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, was not invited, which might be the only speck of cloud on the otherwise bright ceremony.
The Magenta line is a 12.6 km section that connects south Delhi’s Kalkaji and Noida’s Botanical Garden.
Monday will incidentally also mark the 15th anniversary of the Delhi metro, which started as a 8.5 km ‘showcase’ corridor between Shahdara and Tis Hazari in 2002.
In 15 years, the Delhi metro has become one of the most dependable means of transports for Delhiites, stretching over 230 km across the National Capital Region and carrying nearly two and a half million passengers in 3,000 trips every day.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was established in 1995. Construction work on the first corridor quietly began in 1998, with a hoarding propped up near Kashmere Gate, that promised citizens that the Delhi Metro would be ‘coming soon.’
Delhiites knew better than to trust such promises of the government.
Contrary to all expectations, however, not only that first stretch of the metro, but many more after that were completed before time and without budget overruns.
This was a time when concepts like Ola and Uber were more than a decade away. Public transport in Delhi either meant shaky and unsafe Delhi transport buses that ran on a time-zone of their own, or the ‘killer’ Blueline.
The DMRC’s popularity slowly began to rise for various reasons. On one hand there were stories like the clocks in their headquarters did not show the time, but countdown to project deadlines.
On the other hand, for the first time Delhiites experienced that heavy construction work can be done behind barricades without strewing material all over and traffic can be effectively kept smooth during the process.
In addition to this, of course, there were sleek trains and spic and span stations.
Soon enough, the DMRC’s practices began to rub off on Delhi’s population, who are not known for discipline or cleanliness. But once in the sanitised interiors of the metro stations, Delhiites refrained from blemishing the surroundings with ubiquitous paan stains and carelessly thrown litter. Round the clock maintenance definitely contributed to such cleanliness, but it was also Delhi’s population keeping their primal instincts in check once inside the metro.
Not all of it came easy. The DMRC has had to champion many challenges, like crossing river Yamuna, tunnelling through rocky terrain and under buildings that were hundreds of years old or crossing wide railway lines and roads where pillars couldn’t be constructed.
Apart from a few fatal accidents, like the ones at Laxmi Nagar and Zamrudpur, DMRC’s record has been quite spotless. The challenge it faces now is to continue providing smooth services over its vast network that continues to expand every day.
On Monday, the Delhi Metro steps into its 16th year and with the beginning of Phase IV, the network will toe the borders of the capital.
Over the next five years, Delhi metro will become one of the largest metro networks of the world.
The challenge for DMRC would be to maintain its mostly impeccable record as Delhi’s most reliable and comfortable mode of public transport.