World Culture Festival starts today; Stage unsafe CPWD to Delhi Police

Among red flags: no preparation... for creating levelled firm ground for supporting structure.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: March 11, 2016 12:22 pm
Performers gather for a rehearsal at the venue of the World Culture Festival Thursday. (Express Photo: Oinam Anand) Performers gather for a rehearsal at the venue of the World Culture Festival Thursday. (Express Photo: Oinam Anand)

The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has written to Delhi Police that the stage of the World Culture Festival organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living is unsafe. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with many foreign dignitaries, is set to attend the opening function on Friday evening.

In a March 9 letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the Prime Minister’s security, CPWD special director general Upendra Malik listed four counts on which the supporting structure of the stage failed to meet standards set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

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The red flags listed in the letter are: no preparation/compaction for creating levelled and firm ground for supporting the structure; inadequate size of base plates resulting in excessive soil-bearing pressure; non-staggering of splice joints creating weak links at same level; use of corroded and worn out pipes.

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The festival on the floodplains of the Yamuna is already under fire for alleged violation of environmental norms, with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday levying an interim fine of Rs 5 crore on the organisers.

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CPWD was provided with a model of the stage for structural analysis. On inspection, the letter stated, it was found to be deficient. “The consultant has considered horizontal loads of unidirectional force generated due to wind speed of 4.7 meter per second only against the BIS provision of wind speed of 47 meter per second… the structure is not safe under wind of this speed (4.7 meter per second) too,” the letter added.

The Indian Express had earlier reported on a Delhi Police letter to the Union Urban Development Ministry in which it had warned of a “stampede”, “pandemonium” and “utter chaos” at the venue and the lack of a structural stability certificate for the stage.

The CPWD, Delhi government and Delhi Development Authority — the DDA granted permission for the event — have refused to give the festival stage the mandatory structural stability certificate, police wrote to the Ministry. When contacted, Malik refused to discuss the letter, describing it as a “confidential document.” This is, however, not the first time that CPWD has pointed out that the structure is unsafe.

A detailed report certifying “unsafe conditions” of the temporary stage was sent by CPWD on March 4 and March 6 to Delhi Police. Organisers had agreed to rectify the shortcomings that had been pointed out.

Meanwhile, Delhi Fire Service Director A K Sharma said the DFS has issued the clearance certificate for the event.

“We had suggested some fire safety measures to organisers. Today, after inspecting the site, our officials have issued the clearance certificate to them,” said Sharma.