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“Covid-19 Is Not Going To Leave A Permanent Scar On The Economy”

In a conversation with BW Businessworld, E. Sreedharan, former chairman of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) talks about how the successful implementation of DMRC can be a useful model for large infrastructure projects in the country

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E. Sreedharan has been credited with changing the face of public transport in India with his leadership in building the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro. Known as the Metro Man of India, he was awarded the Padma Shree in 2001 and Padma Vibhushan in 2008 for his services to the nation. Sreedharan recently entered politics and contested from the Palakkad constituency  in the Kerela Legislative Assembly elections.    

Speaking about the pandemic impact and its impact, Sreedharan says, “The Covid-19 lockdowns have restricted my movements but thanks to the modern facilities available for communication, I can carry on with my work peacefully and without much of a problem.” He believes Covid-19 is not going to leave a permanent scar on the country’s economy or in the way of living. “This is a temporary phase — nature’s way of probably balancing many things. We will get over it very shortly, and it will not leave a permanent scar on the nation at all,” he states.

On institutions outlasting leaders...
On creating an institution (DMRC) that has outlasted its leaders, and becoming a nation builder in a true sense, Sreedharan says, “The team imbibes its values, its ethics and keep going, which I was able to do by having intimate contacts with my senior managers, middle-level managers and lower levels.”
Sreedharan says he believed in the need to inspire employees to do things in a proper manner with cleanliness, punctuality, and absolute competency in taking charge of the things and all for the sake of the country, not for themselves. “That spirit has to be instilled in people,” he says, adding, “I used to have a system: every Monday at 9 o’clock, I used to meet all the top managers of the company without any fixed agenda. It used to last for one and a half hours and most of the time was spent on instilling values in them — how they should work, respond and treat the contractors and subordinates.”

On world-class infrastructure...
On the issue of building world-class infrastructure in India and the policy tweaks that were needed for it, Sreedharan states, “Today, fortunately, India has got a sufficient number of skilled and passionate engineers and technocrats to take up various projects. The latest technologies are also available in the country — we don’t have to import much more.” He, however, adds, “The only problem we are facing today is finance. We may not have that level of finance necessary for completing all projects within ten years, but we can do quite a lot.”

Sreedharan is optimistic about the way the country is moving, and believes “there is likely to be big breakthroughs regarding infrastructural projects”. He believes that  the Prime Minister’s initiatives on ‘Make In India’ and ‘self-reliance’  will help direct the country forward in the right direction.

(With inputs from Upasana)

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E. Sreedharan Metro Man Last Word magazine 30 Aug 2021