Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, who on Sunday resigned as chief of Delhi Metro taking responsibility for the collapse of an under-construction elevated track-section, has acquired the sobriquet of the 'Metro man' of India after he oversaw the launch of the metro rail project - a showpiece of the modern urban infrastructure.
Sreedharan, 77, has been at the helm of affairs of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) since its inception and has been instrumental in the completion of the project within the budget and well ahead of schedule.
Known for his efficiency and integrity, the technocrat could not sit quietly as a span of the under-construction elevated route came crashing down in south Delhi Sunday morning, killing five people and wounding 15.
"I may not be directly connected with the accident. But I am the head of the organisation and have to take the moral responsibility," Sreedharan said.
"I have been in charge of the Metro since (the) beginning. I take full responsibility for the accident, and having taken the full moral responsibility, I resign as the managing director of the Delhi Metro," he told reporters.
Born June 12, 1932 in Palakkad district of Kerala, Sreedharan has to his credit the successful construction of Konkan Railways - the largest rail project in India after independence by linking the west coast of India.
He graduated from the Government Engineering College, Kakinada, and later joined the Indian Railways in its Service of Engineers.
Though he retired way back as member (engineering) of the railway board in June 1990, the government would not let him go and appointed him as the chief of the Konkan Railway that year.
And he did not disappoint. The 760-km project was unique in many ways with 93 tunnels along a length of 82 km and over 150 bridges. Under Sreedharan's leadership, the public sector project was executed in seven years without significant cost and time overruns.
On Nov 5, 1997, he was made the managing director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and by mid-2005 completed all the scheduled sections within their respective deadlines and budget and earned the sobriquet of “Metro man”.
Delhi Metro uses some of the most advanced technology in the field of civil, electrical, signalling and telecommunication engineering worldwide.
Delhi Metro started its services in 2002 and runs 70 trains on different routes daily. According to a DMRC spokesperson, over 800,000 people commute by the metro every day as it has offered a convenient and time-saving option to office-goers and others.
Again, scheduled to retire in 2005, his tenure was extended by three years to oversee the completion of the second phase of Delhi Metro.
Such have been his credentials that he was called to Pakistan for the development of the Lahore Metro.
He has been conferred several honours, including the country's fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri in 2001. The Time newsmagazine named him an Asian Hero in 2003.