Ellatuvalapil Sreedharan is popularly known as Metro Man for his crucial role in constructing the Konkan Railway and Delhi metro. Here is a man who is honest to core, brooked no nonsense and set an example for others. He is a true leader who walks the talk. Sreedharan truly deserves the Bharat Ratna. He completed his Civil Engineering from the University College of Engg., JNTUK, Andhra Pradesh. Later on, Sreedharan succeeded to clear the prestigious ESE (Engineering Services Exam, now known as IES) and joined the Southern Railway as a probationary assistant engineer in the year 1954. Sreedharan has not only set a new paradigm for the way in which people travel but raised the bar for delivering infrastructure. Not for nothing has the DMRC model now been replicated across the country to Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi and Kolkata.
In 1963, a cyclone washed away parts of Pamban Bridge that connected Rameshwaram to mainland Tamil Nadu. The Railways set a target of three months for the bridge to be repaired. Sreedharan was put in-charge of the execution and he restored the bridge in just 46 days. He is quite a sensational project manager, who almost always gets the project completed on time or before schedule, he fought all the delays caused by bureaucratic red tape, corruption and lack of funds.
Sreedharan’s willpower has moved mountains. He is not just a dreamer but also a builder, but most of all one who has dedicated his achievements to every Indian. He stands out as a legend in the Indian Engineering history. Sreedharan wanted Delhi to have a world-class metro rail project to change the meaning of urban transport in India. And he accomplished this task through hard work. Everyday with the Delhi Metro Sreedharan reminded himself and his employees of his tough deadlines. His desk had a digital clock that counted down the days before the next line must be completed. Similar clocks are found throughout Delhi Metro’s offices and construction sites. Sreedharan officially retired in 1990 but was asked to report back to build the Konkan Railway, before being asked to take over the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.
It was a challenging task—-760 km of rail tracks from Mumbai to Kochi through the rugged hills of the Western Ghats. As usual the environmentalists protested, politicians said it shall not be done and the project ran short of money. But Sreedharan raised public bonds to finance it, taking everyone ahead. There is no other person better than him in this category. Sreedharan insists he does not have any special skills to get the best out of people.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)