Nobody said he was god. But to dismiss a life time of work done by Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, Indiaâs metro man is to wander into the realm of the ridiculous.
The 83-year old civil engineer from Palakkad (Kerala) has changed the way urban India travels. Highly respected and decorated in India and abroad, Sreedharan wears it all very lightly. He is known to be up at the crack of dawn and at his desk before most others helping governments across India build rapid transport systems in their expanding and often unplanned urban landscape.
Principal adviser to the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC), Sreedharan this week criticized the slow pace of metro work in the city and blamed it on poor planning and lack of timely decisions resulting in huge cost and time over-runs. It does not take a rocket scientist to notice that metro work in the city is needlessly wrong with all the escalating costs attached to projects that miss deadlines.
His report card has irked bureaucrats one of whom (Srivatsa Krishna, Secretary E Governance, Karnataka) has dissed Sreedharanâs work in a manner that is ungainly.
In an article titled âMY OPINION - Why Metro Man Sreedharan got it wrongâ, Srivatsa Krishna says, âitis astonishing how when people are put on a pedestal, they automatically are believed to be above all law, all facts, all logic, indeed all truth.
His grouse is that in India people are placed on pedestals after which their work, however bad, can never be criticized.
In a press meet at Bengaluru on Tuesday Sreedharan had commented that only a technocrat can save the Bangalore Metro and it should never have been headed by an IAS officer.
Srivatsa Krishna writes that Sreedharan should not forget that Kochi, Jaipur and Chennai metro were headed by bureaucrats and not technocrats.
He then calls the Delhi Airport Air Link that Sreedharan was in charge of, the biggest disaster ever.
The Karnataka IAS officer also points a finger at Sreedharan and asks why a CAG report and Gopalan committee report that found inconsistencies and âseveral layers of dubiousnessâ in the Delhi Metro were suppressed.
âFor him to preach about the ego of IAS officers, is like Yo Yo Honey Singh preaching classical music to the Madras Music Academy,â Srivatsa Krishna writes.
Srivatsa Krishna is obviously a bureaucrat who has taken umbrage to Sreedharanâs words, but it is strange that an IAS officer not associated with the Metro project hs chosen to retort in his 'personal capacity'.
But where he misses the point is that the metro man is not whistling in the dark and is certainly not among those who toot their own horns. In addition he brings to the table decades of experience from the Pamban Bridge (linking Rameshwaram to mainland Tamil Nadu), Konkan railways, the Delhi metro, the Kolkata metro, Kochi shipyard and metro, among other large projects which he has led from the front. He is also advising the government of Uttar Pradesh on their metro project. The very fact that his advice and expertise is being sought at his age is testimony to his work.
The piece also makes sweeping statements at Sreedharan even suggesting dubiousness and impropriety on his behalf, which was uncalled for.