Metroman E Sreedharan’s many faces

After a series of claims and counterclaims over the projection of 'metro-man' E Sreedharan as the Chief Ministerial candidate of BJP for the forthcoming polls in Kerala, senior leader and Union Minister V Muraleedharan clarified that the references should not be considered as an announcement.  BJP state president K Surendran said that a 'person like Metroman E Sreedharan becoming the state CM could be good for the state'. "A person like E Sreedharan becoming the Kerala CM is always good for Kerala State," he said. Later, Surendran told Times Now that no official announcement has been made towards the CM face in the state. Sreedharan had joined the BJP amid much fanfare in February and had evinced interest in contesting for the Chief Minister’s post. The technocrat had on February 19 said that he is open to taking up the chief minister’s post if the BJP comes to power. Sreedharan had last month said that he is entering electoral politics to work for his state’s betterment.
88-year-old Sreedharan’s achievements, like Delhi Metro and Konkan Railway, swaddle him in the mould of a technocrat par excellence. But even his party seems undecided how best to utilise him, evident from the confusion over naming him CM candidate. Nevertheless, BJP trusts Sreedharan to woo the middle class despite his age. Meanwhile, a BJP candidate has notched up prized Orthodox Church support for helping spare an ancient church from demolition during highway construction. Sreedharan has received numerous national and international honours. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2001 and felicitated with the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. He was also awarded the French government’s highest civilian honour Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 2005 and was also named as one of Asia’s Heroes in 2003 by TIME magazine. 
A retired officer of the Indian Engineering Services (IES),  Sreedharan has played the role of an advisor to several Metro projects in India. He is also a member of the United Nations’ High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport. Hailed for his groundbreaking work in transforming public transport in India, especially in Delhi Metro, Sreedharan is popularly known as the Metro Man.
Sreedharan was born in 1932 in Karukaputhur under Madras Presidency, which is now in Kerala. He pursued his higher education at the Victoria College in Palghat and then got a degree in civil engineering from the Government Engineering College, known now as JNTUK, in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh. After his education, Sreedharan started out as a lecturer of civil engineering at the Government Polytechnic in Kozhikode. He then joined the Bombay Port Trust as an apprentice. In 1953, Sreedharan cleared the Indian Engineering Service Exam and joined the southern railway in 1954 thus embarking on a career in the railways.
Between 1970 and 1975, Sreedharan was in charge of planning, designing and implementing the Kolkata Metro project. Between 1979 and 1981, he was in charge of the Cochin Shipyard Limited. He was promoted as general manager of the Western Railway in July 1987 and in 1989 he was elevated to the position of Member Engineering, Railway Board and ex-officio secretary to the government. Even after his retirement in June 1990, the government tasked him to spearhead the Konkan Railway project in 1990. After completion of the Delhi Metro project, Sreedharan was made the managing director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). Under Sreedharan’s leadership, all scheduled sections of DMRC were completed by mid-1997, which was before the target date. After 16 years of service in DMRC, Sreedharan retired in 2011 after which he took advisory roles in Kochi Metro, Jaipur Metro, Lucknow Metro, Coimbatore Metro and proposed projects in Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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