With the intention of reducing his work load, 85-year-old E Sreedharan visited Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath last month to offer his resignation from the role of advisor to the Lucknow and Kanpur Metro projects. But he returned to Kochi with more work. “He (Adityanath) said ‘I’m not allowing you to resign. In fact I’m also adding Varanasi, Agra and Meerut… and also Gorakhpur’,” said Sreedharan, seated in the conference room of the DMRC office in Kochi, on Thursday afternoon.
Sreedharan, known as Metro Man to many for his supervision of various Metro Rail projects, said that while surveys have begun in Gorakhpur, Agra and Meerut, “the first phase of the 10.5-km line of the Lucknow Metro is ready and waiting for inspection from the Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety”.
Giving an update on the Metro plan in UP, Sreedharan informed that the “depot is ready in Kanpur” and the “project report of the Varanasi Metro is ready but has to be revised”.
He said: “Yogi wasn’t happy with the report. He doesn’t want any kind of construction to come up near the temple. It’s going to be underground and should be a light metro — fewer coaches with less vibration and noise.”
While many cities are working on Metro projects, Sreedharan believes there is still a long way to go. “China is constructing 300 km every year, we are only doing 22 km. If cities have to survive, it is essential to have the Metro. We should do at least 200 km per year.” Sreedharan spoke about a variety of subjects, including the RInFra-DMRC arbitration, speculations around his Presidential nomination and the pace of Metro expansion in India.
Regarding rumours of his presidential nomination, he laughed it off with “I was never approached…it was all media speculation. You can’t be the president of a country at 85!”