Deadly Roof Collapse at Delhi Airport Highlights India's Infrastructure Issues

Deadly Roof Collapse at Delhi Airport Highlights India's Infrastructure Issues

A fatal roof collapse at India's busiest airport has intensified concerns over the country's infrastructure safety amidst Prime Minister Narendra Modi's extensive investment in transportation. The collapse at Delhi’s airport underscores persistent issues in quality and maintenance as part of India’s infrastructure development efforts.

Operations at Terminal 1 of Delhi’s airport were halted after an outdoor metal canopy gave way during heavy rainfall on Friday. The collapse crushed multiple cars, resulting in one death and eight injuries. This incident occurred during the heaviest one-day June rainfall in 88 years.

In addition to this, other infrastructure failures have been reported, including the collapse of four bridges in Bihar and a cave-in at an airport in central India. With the onset of the monsoon season, many cities are now experiencing water-logging. In Ayodhya, a recently inaugurated temple by Modi is leaking, and newly built roads are flooded.

These incidents have put Modi’s ambitious infrastructure projects under scrutiny. Bloomberg Economics reports that 44.4 trillion rupees ($532 billion) worth of new infrastructure will be operational within the next two years, matching the total value of projects built in the last 11 years. Modernizing infrastructure was a key promise during Modi’s campaign for a third term as prime minister. Over the past decade, his administration claims to have built 80 new airports, upgraded railways, and expanded highways significantly.

Niranjan Sahoo, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, criticized the recent Terminal 1 disaster, suggesting it highlights ongoing quality concerns and labeling many projects as “electoral gimmicks.” Despite economists and business leaders supporting the infrastructure budget to boost growth and attract international companies, opposition leaders have criticized the projects as wasteful and corrupt. Mallikarjun Kharge, president of the Indian National Congress party, likened the country's infrastructure to a collapsing deck of cards.

Following the Terminal 1 incident, India’s aviation minister, Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu, clarified that the collapsed structure was not part of recent renovations. Nonetheless, Sahoo emphasized that the disaster points to poor maintenance, offering Modi’s critics additional grounds to challenge his infrastructure record.

“Infrastructure is not just about constructing bridges, airports, and roads,” Sahoo stated. “It is also about governance and maintaining them.”

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