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Dec 25, 2002
A Metro at last for a choking New Delhi.

When it finally ran on a short 8 km segment, the Delhi Metro had taken barely four years to execute. Goes to show that given the right leadership India can do it. The Delhi Metro found just that man in Mr. E.Sreedharan the 70 year old engineer who had brought off the Konkan Railway.

By Sep,2005 the run will be 62.5 km including 11 km underground. After that it keeps growing till 2021 covering over 200 km. The Rs. 10,000 crore --India financed-- first-phase Metro is expected to save Rs.500 crores in fuel alone. The economic value of time saved by commuters will be a huge sum as well. Delhi-ites will gag and cough a little less due to a clearer air.

Delhi had dawdled for decades over the idea of a Metro. It finally got a company registered in 1996 and then forgot all about it for two years. When Sreedharan took over he dismissed the wisdom that it needed 10 years to make the first run. he would do it in four. All he insisted was on a free hand. He got it. He then brought in technologies from around the world and let his staff soak in them. Starting from scratch he has today a team of 600 Metro experts who he says can replicate the Delhi experience. Citizens have been struck by how non-intrusive the whole project has been on their daily lives.

On Dec 24, Prime Minister Vajpayee, his Deputy Advani and a crop of other politicians took a ride to assuage a public somewhat apprehensive about a speeding, air conditioned train over whose doors they would have no control. The VIP ride was telecast live. The next day it was thrown open to the public.

Emboldened by the telecast, they arrived in their several thousands. Going by the media reports, it was a very Indian opening. Families, young things, yokels, idlers, smart alecs, urchins—they were all there. Queues had begun at dawn and officials were marooned. No technology is proof to India’s enthusiastic millions. Auto-ticketing failed. Farmers tumbled softly on the escalators. Joy riders refused to get off the trains. People ‘tried’ the emergency stop buttons. Quite a few rode stiff with fear comforted by whistlers in the dark. Experts with an hour’s experience lectured others. A good natured time was had by one and all—bar the Metro staff of course.

Wonder if legendary Mr.Sreedharan has any fixes for this.

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