One particular understanding about Indian office-bearers is that most of them fail to get the work done within the stipulated deadline and budget. However, there are some bureaucrats who need to get everything right in the first go. They cannot fail for on them rests millions of hopes. They are the actual nation builders. One such great builder of modern India is the 'Metro Man' E. Sreedharan.
Elattuvalapil Sreedharan is largely recognized for changing the dynamics of public transport in India by his leadership in building Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro. His contribution in key projects on time and within budget has brought immense success and glory in terms of nation-building.
His passion for Railways started after his graduation. He started preparing for Indian Railway Service Examination (IRSE) while supporting himself as a college lecturer. And within a year results were out. He had secured an all-India IRES rank of 7th. Soon after, he rose quickly in Railways to become the youngest divisional manager at the age of 26 years.
Pampan Bridge Construction
GP Warrier, a stalwart in Railways, recognized the spark in Sreedharan
and gave him early opportunities to work on Pampan Bridge. The Pampan Bridge which is termed as an engineering marvel built by Britishers in 1914, connects the holy town of Rameshwaram to mainland India. However, the bridge suffered severe damages in the cyclone of 1964. Sreedharan was given such an impossible task to make the bridge operational in 3 months.
In order to add another obstacle to it, the cyclone had washed all 126 girders. But, Sreedharan’s out of box thinking and his early tryst with Port Engineering came to his rescue. He fished out all the 126 girders from the sea using specially crafted cranes and skilled laborers finishing the repair project in record time. And the impossible was made possible!
Further, Sreedharan soon found himself on deputation to Cochin Shipyards as its CMD where he rolled out India’s first indigenously built ship Rani Padmini. He joined back Railways finally retiring in 1990. After long years of service, when it was time for Sreedharan to take the well-deserved break, he was appointed as CMD of Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL).
It should be noted that the Konkan Railways runs through four states - Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. The treacherous railway line of 760 km has 92 tunnels and 2000+ bridges reducing the distance between Mumbai and Mangalore by 1,127 km. In order to do this difficult job, it was Sreedharan’s project management skills and his relentless resolve that made it possible for KRCL to deliver a project of this scale within record time of 7 years. KRCL has been operationally profitable from day one now!
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation
After dedicating KRCL to the nation, Sreedharan got another call of duty. The Delhi government could trust no one but Sreedharan to fulfill the dreams of giving Delhi and the surrounding capital region a modern transport system. So, he was appointed as head of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation in May 1995. Unlike the no man’s land of Konkan, Delhi Metro was to be built through densely populated areas of the capital city.
However, Sreedharan - the technological genius in the public domain built the first phase of Delhi Metro that was ready in just 5 years against a stipulated timeline of 7 years. Now, Delhi Metro has done wonders for the Delhi NCR region. More than 200 km long metro line is connecting far flung areas providing one of the cheapest, fastest and pollution free modes of transport. As of March 2017, Delhi Metro’s ridership had touched 1 billion commutes a year.
He has been conferred several honors, including the country's fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri in 2001. The Time magazine named him an Asian Hero in 2003. He has delivered world-class products to millions of Indians at an affordable price. Now India's Railway man has made up his mind to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. BJP Kerala state president K. Surendran said that Sreedharan will join the party and will be officially welcomed to the BJP during the ‘Kerala Yathra’ led by K. Surendran scheduled to start on Saturday.
Credible names joining politics is a great omen for India's bright future, isn't it?