Palakkad: E Sreedharan, the famed engineer behind popular metro railway projects in India, is set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This was announced by K Surendran, the chief of Kerala unit of the party, at a regular press meet on Thursday.
Sreedharan however clarified that he would not be part of BJP's election campaigns, including the ongoing Vijay Yatra being led by Surendran in the run-up to the state poll.
"The party will request Sreedharan to contest the Kerala Assembly election," Surendran said.
Sreedharan confirmed the move and expressed his willingness to contest, Manorama News reported.
"Let the party decide the constituency," he said.
Sreedharan disclosed that his decision to join the party has been taken after conferring with its leaders only in Kerala.
He endorsed the BJP by touting its as unlike other parties and that distinction alone spurred him to side with it. In an interview to NV Krishnadas of Manorama News, he added that the decision was not taken all of a sudden.
"I have lot of plans about Kerala and many of them have been already included in the BJP's manifesto. Nothing can be done alone. First I will take a party membership. The party will assign my tasks and no discussions have been held about them," Sreedharan stated.
No more government duties
Sreedharan also announced that hereafter he would not associate with any Kerala government initiatives as he has to devote himself for BJP's programmes in Kerala.
So far he was in touch with the state administration over the Kochi Metro expansion and Palarivattom bridge reconstruction.
"BJP can herald development. The LDF government has disappointed. I had taken up the Palarivattom bridge work for the local people, not for the (ruling) party," Sreedharan made his political stand clear.
Sreedharan was born in Varavoor, Thrissur district, Kerala on June 12, 1932. After completing his schooling from the Basel Evangelical Mission Higher Secondary School, he went to Victoria College in Palakkad. Later, he completed his civil engineering course from the Government Engineering College (presently Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University), Kakinada, in Andhra Pradesh.
Elattuvalapil Sreedharan is not new to accolades showered on him for engineering feats. His first laurel-winning endeavour dates back to the 1960s when he restored in just 46 days the Pamban Bridge (connecting Rameswaram to mainland in Tamil Nadu), which was blown away in a cyclone in 1964. He executed the mission one month ahead of the deadline.
Foray into metro rail projects
His foray into metro rail project came when he was appointed the deputy engineer of the Calcutta Metro. With his experience in executing the first-ever metro rail system in the country in 1970, he could lend a hand to laying of the foundations of a modern infrastructural engineering which heralded a new era in the public transport culture in this part of the globe.
But, it is the Konkan Railways that shot Sreedharan to the pinnacle of fame. Sreedharan was promoted as general manager, Western Railway, in July 1987. Though he retired in June 1990, the government still needed his services and the then railway minister, George Fernandes, appointed him as the CMD of Konkan Railway, on contract. Touted as one of the most difficult railway projects in the world, the 760-km Konkan project has over 150 bridges and 93 tunnels.
It was the first major project in India to be undertaken on a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) basis. The Herculean project was completed in the stipulated time of seven years and without much cost overruns.
It was during his stint with Delhi Metro rail that he earned the sobriquet 'Metro Man.' He was made the managing director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation by the then Delhi chief minister, Sahib Singh Verma. The construction started in 1998 and the work on the planned first section was completed within the respective budget and targeted time frame within a few years. The success of Delhi Metro was so significant that he was awarded Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by the Government of France, in 2005 and the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 2008.
Back to Kerala
Retiring from the DMRC after 16 years of service, Sreedharan joined the Kochi Metro Rail project as its principal advisor in 2011. The Kochi Metro, launched in 2017, is just another feather on his cap. But busy days are ahead for Sreedharan with a political career in India's most popular political party which has set high hopes on improving its poll prospects in Kerala.