The Metro Man of India, Elattuvalapil Sreedharan was born on 12 July 1932 in Kerala. He studied at the Victoria College in Palghat, before graduating in engineering from the former Government Engineering College, Kakinada.
While he started off his career as a lecturer in Civil engineering at the Kerala Polytechnic in Kozhikode, he moved to the Bombay Port Trust as an apprentice, before joining the Indian Railways in its Service of Engineers. His first major challenge came in 1963, when a tidal wave washed away portions of the Pamban bridge connecting Rameshwaram with mainland Tamil Nadu. Though the Railways had set a target of six months for the bridge to be repaired, Sreedharan got it restored in a record time of 46 days. He was awarded the Railway Minister’s Award for this achievement. He then served as the deputy chief engineer, in charge of the implementation, planning and design of Calcutta Metro in 1970. He also served as the Chairman and Managing Director of the Cochin Shipyard.
Though he retired from Indian Railways in 1990, the Government called him out of retirement and he was appointed as the CMD of Konkan Railway on contract in 1990. This highly challenging project was completed under his stewardship in a period of seven years. The Konkan Railway was the first major project in India to be undertaken on a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) basis; the project covering a total of around 760 kms has 93 tunnels and over 150 bridges. He was appointed as the Managing Director of Delhi Metro and in what is a rarity for projects undertaken by government agencies in India, most of the scheduled sections of the Delhi Metro project have been completed well-ahead of schedule.
His tenure was extended by a further three years in 2005 till the completion of the second phase of Delhi Metro. He has received many awards and accolades. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2001, the Man of the Year by The Times of India in 2002 and was named as one of Asia’s Heroes by TIME in 2003. Besides, he was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by the government of France in 2005.
E. Sreedharan retired from the Delhi Metro on December 31st 2010 after sixteen years of service. He is succeeded by Mangu Singh who is an Indian Railways Service Engineer (IRSE) officer.