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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

E Sreedharan retires - Tribute to his commitment, dedication and great work

In the fast World, there are stories of burn-outs; youngsters having a meteoric rise but unable to sustain their momentum for long and fading into oblivion.  In early days, people struck to one Company, a Government job was the one most sought after ; and retired peacefully.  Retirement was a great ceremony – the head of the Institution present in that location would be present, so also would be almost all the members in that office – nice words would be spoken of the person retiring.  He would be honoured with a sandal garland, given apples and mostly dropped home in the Office car accompanied by colleagues………………………..
And on Dec 31, 2011 – Mr E Sreedharan retired… !!   - well what is there in a retirement,  One would tend to ask ?   At 79 he was the oldest technocrat working for the Government of India. 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.
In 2006 something quaint happened: a state funded infrastructure project was completed three years ahead of schedule, sticking to its budget. Many called it a miracle.  We as a Nation accept tardiness, delayed schedules, not adhering to TATs – all in a casual manner – a way of life ! – more when it comes to bigger projects as they get mired in web of bureaucracy – there have been reported instances of bridges completed but public denied access wanting that to be inaugurated by a politician  !!
The man behind the project, E Sreedharan, became an instant legend and his project, the Delhi metro, became history.  It is stated that on the  Metro project the average duration of major tenders was 19 days, compared to the three to nine months that is the norm.  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 also credited with the completion of IT Park outside Delhi in 2005, when the required paper work was not moving and permission was not forthcoming.   “For us, time is money. We know that each day is so important and we can’t allow one day to waste,” Shreedharan was quoted by Reuters, when asked about Delhi Metro’s success. Perhaps it was this no-nonsense attitude to delivery and sticking to deadlines that led the Delhi government to give him a free hand in to hiring people, deciding on tenders and controlling funds.
News reports hail that during his tenure with  the Delhi Metro,  everyday  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.    He has punctiliously adhered to fixed time lines and it is acclaimed that Trains at Delhi Metro run at an interval of 2 minutes 30 seconds between trains at peak frequency at over 90 per cent efficiency when it comes to keeping time.
He has been hailed as a messaiah, a person who had no other distractions and struck to his work exhibiting the rare traits of dedication and commitment in every breathe.  His moral rectitude was to the fore at the time following the collapse of a launching girder lost balance as it was being erected at Zamrudpur, near East of Kailash. The accident left 6 people dead, and  Sreedahran offered to resign from his post of MD of Delhi Metro. Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit rejected his resignation saying that the Delhi Metro and the country needed his services.
He is hailed as strict disciplianarian who would come to office between 8:30-8:45 in the office and  leave the office by 5:30 and 5:45. – within that time, he had very regular schedules laid down never skipping meetings nor prolonging them.   Leading such a disciplined life, he is quoted to have enough time to spend on spirituality. One hour, meditation, pranayam,” Sreedharan was quoted by Reuters.  Following his retirement he plans to spend the rest of his days in his native village in Palakad, Kerala, engaging in spiritual pursuits.  He is quoted as saying that after his retirement, he will go back to village and pursue things that he could not do thus far including reading Srimad Baghvatam, Upanishads and other Vedic literature.
Elattuvalapil Sreedharan  born in June 1932,  was the managing director of Delhi Metro.  He worked at Bombay Port Trust as an apprentice, moved to Indian Railways in Dec 1954.  In 1963 he received the Railway Minsiter’s Award recognized for his outstanding work in restoring parts of Pamban bridge.  In 1970, he was the Dy Chief Engineer of India’s first ever metro and was CMD of Cochin Shipyard when the first ship Rani Padmini was launched.
No wonder that upon his retirement he was taken on contract as CMD of Konkan Railway and the project prospered.  His exploits with Delhi  Metro are too well known to be detailed in any manner.  After 14 years of service with the Delhi Metro, Sreedharan retired from service on 31st December, 2011
Such people are rare and certainly deserves all the accolades that he has been earning right through his career.    He was conferred Padma Shri in 2001; Man of the Year by Times of India 2002, CII Juror’s award for leadership in 2003; TIME magazine’s Asia Here in 2003; Chevalier by Govt of France in 2005; Padma Vibushan in 2008; Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris causa) from IIT Roorkee, 2009 – to cite only a few.
Recently  Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K V Thomas told reporters that  he personally felt DMRC should be asked to undertake the Kochi Metro  project and that Sreedharan should oversee it.
The Nation should recognize such persons more and perhaps someone like him deserve the highest Civilian Award “Bharat Ratna” than giving to a Sachin Tendulkar or Dhyan Chand or to any other person involved in Arts / literature / Cinema and the like fields.
With regards - S. Sampathkumar.

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