‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan, BJP CM candidate in Kerala; promising change face of public transport

Elatuvalpil Sreedharan, the engineer behind India’s huge and ambitious metro railway project in Delhi, will become the chief ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in Kerala.

He said, ‘This is not a sudden decision to join BJP. I have been in Kerala for the past decade and want to do something for the state. I just can’t talk. BJP is different and that’s why I joined the party.

88-year-old Sreedharan, who advised the Kerala government on metro projects in the state, said he would now end the practice. “I will focus on BJP-centric activities,” he said.

He is a retired civil servant of the Engineering Service of India and an advisor to various metro projects in India. He was a member of the United Nations High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport.

Sreedharan is known as Metro Man for his pioneering work in transforming public transport in India, particularly his work behind the development of the Delhi Metro as well as the Konkan Railway.

Sreedharan was born in 1932 in Karukaputhur, Madras Presidency, Kerala. He has received many national and international accolades for his work in changing the way people work. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2001 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. He was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur of the Government of France in 2005 and was also named as one of the heroes of Asia in 2003 by Time. magazine.

He continued his higher education at Victoria College, Palghat. Subsequently, Sreedharan earned a degree in civil engineering from the Government Engineering School, now known as JNTUK in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.

His career began at the academy. He started as a professor of civil engineering at Government Polytechnic, Kozhikode. He later joined the Bombay Port Trust as an apprentice. Sreedharan passed the Indian Engineering Services examination in 1953 and joined the Southern Railway in December 1954.

Sreedharan climbed the ladder in the railway due to his simple ways of dealing with problems and was duly recognized for it. In 1964, after a cyclone swept a bridge, he completed the restoration work on the bridge in 46 days against the target of six months set by the Railways.

Between 1970 and 1975, he was in charge of the planning, design and implementation of the Kolkata Metro project. It was one of the most technologically advanced projects undertaken in India in the field of public transport. Between 1979 and 1981, he was in charge of the Cochin Shipyard Limited and was in turn a subsidiary. He retired from Government service in 1990, Member of Engineering Board, Railway Board and ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India. However, the government put him on a contract because he felt he needed it.

He later led the Konkan Railway Project, which was of a build-operate-transfer model and, by its nature, is considered one of the most difficult railway projects in the world. He then took over the task of developing the Delhi Metro project. Over a period of 18 years, under his leadership, the Delhi Metro changed the face of public transport in Delhi and the National Capital Region. It regularly completed segments ahead of schedule and is one of the few metro projects in the world that has made a profit and has been able to move mass audiences from the highway to the metro. After 2011, he did consultancy work in Kochi Metro, Jaipur Metro, Lucknow Metro, Coimbatore Metro and started proposed projects in Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada.