Thursday, July 25, 2024

What Praful Patel, UPA-II Aviation Minister, Said On Airport Roof Collapse


Former Aviation Minister Praful Patel (File).

New Delhi:

NCP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Praful Patel has criticised the opposition for playing “politics over dead bodies” after protests over shocking scenes from Delhi airport’s Terminal I, where a portion of the roof covering a car park collapsed after heavy rain Friday, killing one person and injuring eight.

Offering condolences to the family of the person who was killed, and his prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured, Mr Patel also told NDTV the structure built under his watch was “made by one of the best construction companies (Larsen & Toubro) in the country, possibly the world”.

Mr Patel was Union Aviation Minister when the building was inaugurated; this was in 2009, when the Congress-led UPA government was in power. The NCP then was an undivided party led by founder and patriarch Sharad Pawar. Last year, however, Mr Pawar’s nephew, Ajit Pawar, led a rebellion that tore the NCP apart; the rebel faction joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

Mr Patel was part of that rebel faction.

Officials said the roof sheet and support beams of Delhi airport’s Terminal 1 collapsed. Apart from the death and injuries, four parked cars were damaged. The incident was reported at 5.30 am. The government will give Rs 20 lakh to the family of the person killed and Rs 3 lakh each to the injured.

Speaking to NDTV, Mr Patel expressed sorrow that a public building “one of the magnitude and scale of T1… has had some kind of accident”.

READ | Delhi Airport Terminal 1 Canopy Inaugurated In 2009: Minister

“See… now talking about a structure that was built 15 years ago… and which has seen such extensive usage… to come to any conclusion about what happened it requires a comprehensive audit. I can only say that, as I remember, it was made by one of the best construction companies… L&T.”

“Obviously any building, when it is built, goes through mandatory design and planning clearances… so I can’t comment on something built 15 years ago. I can only say, going forward, we are going to have buildings not just from cement and concrete but also with new-age materials…”

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Aviation Minister Ram Mohan Naidu inspects collapsed roof at Delhi airport.

On the opposition’s demand for a full inquiry into the Delhi airport roof collapse, Mr Patel told NDTV, “I agree… there should not be such incidents. We must be concerned and try to resolve it. But now what is this politics… one side blaming the other or vice versa. This is completely out of place. Politics over dead bodies is something I don’t like. All should be concerned with loss of lives.”

READ | Delhi Airport Terminal 1 Stops Ops After Roof Collapses, 1 Dead, 6 Injured

Earlier today Mr Patel’s eventual successor, the TDP’s Ram Mohan Naidu, who faces his first big test as Aviation Minister after being sworn in this month, visited Delhi airport and told reporters the national regulator, the DGCA, will investigate the collapse. He also said passengers affected by the terminal’s closure – all flights departing from T1 have been cancelled – will get a full refund.

Mr Patel’s counterattacks follow Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge and senior leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra alleging the T1 building had been inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Corruption and criminal negligence is responsible for the collapse of shoddy infrastructure the past 10 years of Modi government,” Mr Kharge had claimed. Mr Naidu countered the “misinformation” in the Congress leader’s statement, explaining the Prime Minister inaugurated a different building.

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