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Mussons rain falls on the roof of New Delhi Airport and crushes and kills the car 1

India is booming with infrastructure to meet growing transport demand, but critics say construction work is poorly maintained and overseen.


NEW DELHI - Heavy monsoon rains caused part of an airport terminal roof to collapse onto parked cars in the Indian capital, killing at least one person and injuring eight, authorities said. Civil Aviation Minister Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu told reporters at the scene that rain was the cause of the damage and that operations at the terminal had been suspended, but critics of the government allege negligence and poor maintenance were behind the accident amid a boom in infrastructure construction in the country. "The rest of the terminal building is closed and everything is thoroughly inspected, so other creepy incidents do not occur here," he added. "Passengers are the top priority for us."

The stuck passengers complained about the clear lack of communication from the authorities. “There are around 800 people stuck here, but there is not a single responsible person who can talk to us,” one passenger told a local TV station. “We’re just standing there, not understanding anything.”

After the initial suspension, authorities redirected all operations to the airport's two other terminals, which also handle international flights. IndiGo Airlines, which controls 60 percent of India's domestic aviation market, initially canceled flights scheduled to depart from the terminal, according to trade analysts.

Atul Garg, director of the Delhi Fire Department, said firefighters carried out the rescue operation within three hours. The accident occurred as monsoon flooded parts of New Delhi with knee-deep water, halting traffic and downing power lines.

The country has long faced criticism over poor maintenance and a lack of contractor oversight over large construction projects. India is undergoing a massive infrastructure boom to meet growing transport demand.

"The rapid infrastructure development of recent years has been of poor quality, lacked oversight and maintenance and has been linked to corruption," said Anup Kumar Srivastava, a former consultant to the National Disaster Management Authority who now runs an independent consulting practice. "Currently, ordinary people are putting their lives at risk when crossing bridges, tunnels and dams."

India's aviation industry, the world's third-largest market, has built 75 airports and doubled domestic passenger numbers in the past decade.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy promoting the country's ambitious infrastructure projects, with frequent visits to inaugurate highways, railway stations and airports. Infrastructure development has been a central concern in the party's recent election campaign.

Three months ago, Prime Minister Modi inaugurated a revamped terminal at the same airport, but officials were quick to clarify that it was not part of the crumbling facility. Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party blamed the airport collapse on the Congress party, which was in power when this particular roof was built.

However, a chorus of critics on social media described the Delhi incident as the latest in a long line of infrastructure problems to plague the country, despite special charges being levied for maintenance. On Thursday, rains caused part of the roof of an airport in Madhya Pradesh state that had only opened a few weeks ago to collapse.

"Rotten and criminal negligence are responsible for the collapse of the crazy infrastructure that falls as a card game," said the president of the Maricardun Haltz Council.

Recently, nine Bengal died in a railway accident, 275 people died three times a year ago, causing images of the worst case when about 1,000 were injured. Late last year, a collapsed tunnel left 41 construction workers stranded nearly 300 feet underground for almost three weeks.

Delhi International Airport Ltd., the company that operates the facility, which was built in 2009, announced compensation of $24,000 for the family of the deceased and about $3,500 each for those injured in the collapse.
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