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Who will be Metro’s next pillar of strength?

Taking full responsibility for the collapse of a metro viaduct, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation chief E. Sreedharan resigned on Sunday. But the resignation was rejected by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

delhi Updated: Jul 13, 2009 00:15 IST

Taking full responsibility for the collapse of a metro viaduct, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation chief E Sreedharan resigned on Sunday. But the resignation was rejected by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

“We have decided not to accept the resignation of E. Sreedharan,” Dikshit said.

Dikshit took the decision not to accept Sreedharan's resignation after realising that it will "severely hamper various projects" related to the Metro ahead of next year's Commonwealth Games, sources said.

"Technically, someone else should take the responsibility but I have decided to quit," the DMRC chief had said earlier on Sunday.

"As the head of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, I take moral responsibility for the incident,” he said.

The rejection of the resignation by the CM came as a relief to the 4,500 strong workforce of DMRC.

Here’s why.

Ever since its inception, 77-year-old Elattuvalapil Sreedharan has been the driving force behind the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. He has almost single -handedly ensured that the metro project is completed within budget and much ahead of its schedule.

Many, especially DMRC employees, were shocked when Sreedharan earlier offered his resignation on Sunday taking moral responsibility for the collapse of an under-construction Metro viaduct near Zamrudpur in south Delhi.

The incident and Sreedharan’s resignation couldn’t have come at a worse time for DMRC. With only about a year left for the completion of Delhi Metro’s Phase II network before the Commonwealth Games, DMRC might miss its deadlines without its legendary chief not at the helm.

“He is a hard task master but also an inspirational leader. If not for him and the strong decisions he has taken, DMRC wouldn’t have completed its projects on time,” said a senior DMRC official who didn’t wish to be named.

“He is the force that binds DMRC together.”

Many employees fear that without Sreedharan, DMRC would go the way of any sarkari organisation. “The unique work culture that DMRC is known for is only because of him. He leads by example and is a disciplinarian,” he said.

“There is no other official in DMRC who can fill his shoes and if a bureaucrat or technocrat from outside is given the post, he or she wouldn’t inspire similar respect.”

Born on June 12, 1932 in Kerala, Sreedharan has to his credit the successful construction of Konkan Railways — the largest rail project in India after independence that linked the west coast of India.

He graduated from the Government Engineering College, Kakinada, and later joined the Indian Railways in its Service of Engineers.

He was given the Konkan project after retiring from Railways in 1990 but it was the Delhi Metro project that earned him the sobriquet of “Metro man” and brought him worldwide fame. The Time newsmagazine named him an Asian Hero in 2003.

Known for his integrity and capability, Sreedharan was selected for the job due to his no-nonsense attitude Sreedharan was scheduled to retire in 2005 and he expressed his wish to lead a quiet life due to old age but the government wouldn’t let him go.

His tenure was extended by three years to oversee the completion of the second phase of Delhi Metro.