There is speculation that the 85-year-old, who has played a key role in several of India's public transport projects, may be announced as the ruling NDA's presidential candidate.
With the July 17 presidential elections exactly a month away, speculation is growing over who could be in the running for India's highest office. Earlier in the week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was said to be a strong contender. Now, there is talk of E Sreedharan, India's 'Metro Man', being the ruling National Democratic Alliance's candidate.
As the buzz continues to get louder, we take a look at the journey of the man behind the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro projects, which paved the way for future metro rail projects.
Born Elattuvalapil Sreedharan in Varavoor in the Thrissur district of Kerala in 1932, he completed his Civil Engineering from the Government Engineering College at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, now known as JNTUK. Thereafter, he joined the Bombay Port Trust as an apprentice.
Sreedharan was later posted in Southern Railway, where a cyclone in 1964 wrecked the Pamban Bridge which connected the island of Rameshwaram to mainland Tamil Nadu (TN). To reconnect people, the Railways set a target of six months to repair the bridge. Sreedharan’s senior put him in charge to restore bridge operations in 90 days. Sreedharan is said to have completed it in 45.
Making of the Metro Man
Sreedharan was awarded the Railway Minister’s Award for exemplary work and became deputy chief engineer in 1970. He was assigned the task of blueprinting Calcutta Metro plan and its implementation. The project took 22 years to finish and overshot the budget by 14 times. It left a bitter taste in the mouth of the officials, making them hesitant to launch any other Metro projects for years.
As the new millennium dawned, Sreedharan was given charge of completing the Delhi Metro — a project that earns Rs 4 crore a day, effectively paying back the debts that initially funded it.
He retired from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation in December 2011 and moved back to Kerala, only to be approached by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to help in implementing the Kochi Metro project, which was inaugurated on Saturday. He is also an advisor for the Lucknow Metro.
Sreedharan is said to be a man of integrity and principle. He doesn't believe in cutting corners, and devised a system of timely payment with the contractors that prevents them from compromising and ensures that they keep up with the quality of the work.
Despite the paucity of time in such projects, Sreedharan has been known to be an effective decision maker, ensuring they are delivered in timely fashion.He estimated that even if 10 percent of Kochi’s traffic commuted with the metro, it would save 20 lives in a year, and prevent 100 serious injuries from occurring, another motivation to finish his projects on time.