Bangalore Metro heading towards becoming an ailing PSU; Officials’ egos affecting progress of Metro Works: Sreedharan

BMRCL head should be made accountable if project is not sustainable

Bangalore: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Principal Adviser Dr E Sreedharan on Tuesday dropped a warning that Namma Metro was heading towards becoming “an ailing public sector undertaking”. He blamed the “ego and false prestige” of BMRCL officials for the delay in completion of projects and the massive cost escalation. The Bengaluru Metro project is delayed because it is led by bureaucrats and not technocrats, principal advisor to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), E Sreedharan -better known as the Metro Man of India, has said.

sreedharan on namma metroBriefing newspersons in the company of DMRC adviser S N Venkata Rao, Sreedharan questioned the financial sustainability of Namma Metro. “Project costs have gone up by 60 per cent and it will not be able to pay back the loans taken,” he said. “Depending on the government for subsidies every year will be a very sad state of affairs,” he said. The Namma Metro services being operated presently are incurring huge losses daily.

“Many technocrats were sent back midway. The BMRCL has had five managing directors in nine years.This is a drawback, because one person holding the top post for a continued period would be accountable. I was the chief of Delhi metro or 14 years, which helped us complete the project ahead of schedule,” Sreedharan told a press confererence in Bengaluru on Tuesday. He pointed out that the cost of Namma Metro has shot up by 60%.

Majestic Logjam

Coming down heavily on Namma Metro for not sticking to the Detailed Project Report prepared by him, Sreedharan said the DPR had stressed that the underground work at Majestic was the most important part of the project and work on it had be taken up from Day One.  “I had predicted Majestic will be the waterloo for Namma Metro and the DMRC even offered to do that portion for BMRCL,” Sreedharan said. In a scathing remark, Sreedharan said DMRC extended assistance to the BMRCL for four years, before he latter started ignoring suggestions, including a detailed project report on how to go about underground tunneling at Majestic. The logjam caused at the Kempe Gowda Underground station (Majestic station) for a year now could have been redressed with the help of Delhi Metro much earlier, he said. “They wanted to reject our report. Later, BMRCL stopped asking for any assistance, perhaps due to serious ego issues of bureaucrats,” he said. Sreedharan asked why Namma Metro did not seek help from DMRC when a cutter head broke. “Why are they refusing to take help from others?  Why are they having such a huge ego in such matters?” he asked.

Technocrats should lead Bengaluru Metro project

Sreedharan insisted that only technocrats were capable of heading a complex, crucial project like Metro and lashed out at the State government for repeatedly posting bureaucrats as heads. “IAS officers are generalists not specialists and cannot take crucial technical decisions,” he said.

Insisting on the continuity of a person at the helm to ensure accountability, Sreedharan said Namma Metro had got its fifth Managing Director in a short span.  He wondered who will finally be at the helm to take ownership of the financial problems in future.