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By G Seetharaman

Expecting infrastructure projects in India to be completed on time, and early completion is naive. Many projects took years longer than originally expected, but were stuck in lawsuits over land acquisitions, financial distress and political chaos. That's why E Sreedharan's feat is extraordinary. As the head of Delhi Metro, he had 10 years to commission the first 65 kilometers, but he completed the commissioning in 7 years and 3 months.

How did he do that?

"I asked the government to do two things-to operate independently without the interference of politicians and bureaucrats, and the freedom to choose my own team," he told ET Magazine in 2011.

Ashwini Bhide, who was recently replaced as managing director of the Mumbai Metro Corporation (MMRCL), could also reduce a lot of political interference. She accepted those who opposed the felling of trees in the subway shed. Her most powerful critic was Aaditya Thackeray of Shiv Sena, who demanded that she be removed from MMRCL. Although Shiv Sena is part of the Devendra Fadnavis government, Bhide is supported by its larger ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party. However, Bhide was elected within two months after Shiv Sena formed a government with Congress and the Kuomintang Congress after parliamentary polls. The incident highlighted the danger of hosting large infrastructure projects for civil servants.

Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman and general of consulting firm Feedback Infra, said these bureaucrats should be given tenure so they can execute projects effectively without having to worry about being relocated. However, given that some infrastructure projects can take years or even decades to get from conception to commissioning, it is unreasonable to lead the entire project with the same person. (Vijay Singhal) said. Responsible for the construction of urban coastal highway projects to the south. Also, do retired civil servants have an advantage in overseeing infrastructure projects?

"They can run it more professionally than when they are serving. They are not afraid to be posted elsewhere." Chatterjee said. For example, Sreedharan retired from Railway Engineering Services when he served as the first general manager of the DMRC in 1997.

Another challenge for civil servants in these projects is that they must deal with new and evolving issues such as large-scale land acquisition, complex engineering issues, litigation and ecological threats. However, these bureaucrats and officials play a vital role in the effective implementation of infrastructure projects. Their role deserves special attention, especially when the Centre recently announced an investment of Rs 102 trillion in infrastructure over the next five years, more than a fifth of which came from the sector.

Financial Solutions Engineer

By Shantanu Nandan Sharma

Between 1987 and 1992, Anurag Sachan He travels most of the time on a soft-top jeep in the jungle of Orissa. Subsequently, a railway civil engineer was ordered to oversee the construction of the 165 km Koraput-Rayagada track through the Eastern Ghats forest, and Sasan had to negotiate a problem that was largely limited to his expertise: civil engineering. Today, Sashan's concerns have transcended earthworks and bridges.

As head of Rs 81 crore Dedicated Freight Corridor Sashan Co. (DFCC) coordinated with magistrates on last-mile land requisitions and coordinated with police chiefs on law and order issues. He is personally responsible for ensuring the timely completion of the corridor-a rare linear project in India's independent regions, crossing 9 states, 62 regions and 21,000 villages. It guarantees access to more than 11,000 hectares of railway tracks.


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Except for the last 1% of the land required (widely in Mumbai and Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh), the remaining land has been acquired so far, costing the railway industry Rs 20 crore. The DFC consists of two departments-the 1,504-kilometer western corridor of Dudley (UP) -Mumbai and the 1,856-kilometer eastern route of Ludhiana-Kurkata. At present, both lines are being tested for 500 kilometers.

Sachan believes that by March, it will be 990 kilometers. The project started in 2007 and was originally scheduled for completion last year. But the deadline has been reset to December 2021. Sachan of Indian Engineers Railway Services was appointed DFC head in December 2018. He has been facing macroeconomic obstacles since becoming general manager of a dedicated freight corridor company. More than engineering.

"The latest challenge is a contractor's working capital shortage, which is mainly due to the overall economic slowdown. Banks are tightening their wallets. We will release all dues to maintain the contractor's cash flow," he said, adding He sometimes prepays and enforces some rarely used legal requirements.

"In any case, I hope the project can be completed by December 2021." So far, the project has cost Rs 550 crore. The pressure to complete DFC early is understandable. It will consume 70% of freight on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata routes, speed up freight rates, and help the railway achieve its dream of introducing 150 private trains.

Track finder

By G Seetharaman

Thirteen years with four chief ministers in two states. How long NVS Reddy He has been leading Hyderabad Metro Limited (HMRL). The 63-year-old is an exception, as bureaucrats rarely oversee large infrastructure projects from blueprints to completion, especially if the project must overcome this obstacle.

Larsen & Toubro took over the construction and operation of the subway line from Maytas Infra in 2010, after Ramalinga Raju, the promoter of the latter, admitted to cooking books on Satyam Computer Services, also founded by Raju, and tried to get Satyam to acquire Maytas. Since then, the project has been the subject of 370 court cases, mainly due to land acquisition and right of way. HMRL must acquire nearly 270 acres of land, a difficult task in a big city like Hyderabad.


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"Stanford University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology cannot teach you how to implement infrastructure projects in India," said Radi, a 1982 batch officer at the Indian Railway Accounts Authority, who retired in mid-2016. Those who opposed the project protested and burned Reddy's portrait. As a result, he now has an armed guard with him wherever he goes. One of the trickiest parts of the job is finding a way around 20 religious structures. If the building in question is a temple, he will send a devout Hindu to lead negotiations with the temple authorities. If he had to deal with a mosque, he would let his chief Muslim engineer .

"Only 35% of the challenges are related to engineering. The rest are socio-economic." Reddy said he holds a master's degree in political science from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Originally planned for completion in 2017, the first 30 kilometers of the Rs 21,000 crore project went into operation in 2018 and 28 kilometers in the second year. It has recently been opened for another 11 km.


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HMRL is still talking at the remaining 3 kilometers. In addition to land acquisition, Telangana features excavated from Andhra Pradesh in 2014 have also slowed down. The obstacles facing Reddy are not just on the ground.

"People think that anything the private sector does is wrong. I think it's like a private sector guy. Unfortunately, the best thing we know in a bureaucracy is to push a file up or down . "

He also claimed that he was initially resisted by state government officials because it was not part of the Indian Administrative Services. With the completion of the first phase of the project, Reddy is facing greater challenges as private sector interest in subway expansion projects diminishes. But his management experience in the first phase of the project undoubtedly put him in a stable state.

Bird and bridge

By G Seetharaman


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Looking at the tower of the cable-stayed Bandera-Worley Submarine Railway from his office in the Bandra Kurla Complex, RajevThe Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority Metropolitan Commissioner regrets the opportunity to add an aesthetic element to the 22-km Mumbai Cross-Sea Port Link (MTHL) connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. In response to environmentalists' concerns that the flamingo's flight path may be obstructed, the cross-harbour bridge was designed without towers or arches.

"Unfortunately, in India, there is no beauty in infrastructure. When you something for future generations, you should bring some beauty." He said, adding that the flamingo's route is not disturbed by structure . MTHL was originally conceived in the 1960s and has been tried 3 times since 2006.

The Rs 17,784 crore bridge developed by the Mumbai Urban Development Authority (MMRDA) was constructed by two joint ventures, one between Larsen & Toubro and Japan's IHI infrastructure system and the other between Tata Projects and Daewoo Engineering and Construction between. Work on this bridge was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, 80% of which began in March 2018 and is scheduled to be completed in September 2022. Once completed, MTHL expects 70,000 vehicles to pass . The bridge contains 10,000 prefabricated elements or blocks.


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"No two elements are the same. This is the accuracy required for the project." Rajeev was the chief expenditure secretary of the Maharashtra Ministry of Finance. In addition to engineering challenges, MTHL had to demolish the Numbai occupiers and acquire land from the Mumbai Port Trust.

Rajeev said his experience in the finance, urban development and environment sectors will come in handy. "The engineering aspect is taken care of. What is needed is an external view of the project. You manage it exceptionally; you only intervene when problems arise."

MMRDA is carrying out projects worth Rs 1.5 trillion, including more than 300 kilometers of subway lines. There have been sporadic attempts to alleviate Mumbai's commute woes, but the next five years will be crucial for making substantial changes to urban infrastructure. MTHL is one of the most watched projects.

Important learning

By Shantanu Nandan Sharma


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Mangu Singh When he entered Delhi's metro Bavan on December 31, 2011, his shoes were already full. The well-known E. Sededharan, who has retired during his brilliant 14-year tenure, serves as Managing Director of the Delhi Metro Corporation (DMRC). This includes the construction of a 190 km subway line in the capital. Singh replaced him.

Singh, a former railway engineer like Sreedharan, continues to prove that subways can be built faster. His team added another 190 kilometers in the third phase in just seven years (2012-19). The current goal is the fourth phase, which involves the construction of a 104-kilometre track at a cost of Rs 34,580 crore.

Under Singh's leadership, DMRC engineers also built a 10km Jaipur subway and a 25km Kochi subway. Not surprisingly, Singh, now 64, was extended until December 2020. Delhi Metro is rarely seen in the execution of core sector projects in India, as India has only two bosses in the past 20 years. Singh has joined Sreedharan's core team since the establishment of the DMRC in 1997.


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Singh said: "The top leader needs to continue working until the project is completed." He said that building a subway system is to learn from experience, adhere to strict work discipline and adopt new technologies. Before DMRC, Singh was part of India's first subway project, Kolkata Metro Station, the only metro station controlled by the Indian Railways. But that project took 25 years to build 16 kilometers.

The building also caused unprecedented chaos on the road, where sewers and water pipes were uprooted and the building accidentally collapsed. "Everything can go wrong. This is an important lesson," he said. Many of DMRC's initiatives (such as not allowing construction of labor huts along the construction site, introducing better lighting systems, and introducing multiple U-turns under the flyover) are the result of Kolkata's learning. In addition to operating a 389 km network, the DMRC also plans to add 104 km. But it also has to deal with coaches and tracks that are now 15 years old and require more maintenance. A major challenge was the acquisition of land under the Land Acquisition, Recovery and Resettlement Act of 2013, which did not provide for priority acquisition of land.

"But we have overcome this. Under the new law, compensation is profitable, and we turn it into our interests by contacting the landowner directly," he said. Civil engineer Singh from IIT-Roorkee also seems to have found a way to cope with the pressure brought by companies that run companies that are equally owned by the Indian and Delhi governments.

"We have no political pressure. Sometimes, yes, we have been tested. But we have survived. The situation is the same as it was during the Seleland period." He clarified. But was he sad when asked to close the subway station for a stone wall protest?

"This is a tricky situation. As an operator, we don't want to close the station. This is inconvenient for our commuters. But at the same time, we cannot go against the advice of any security agency. However, we have made it very clear that Such a decision needs to be made at the senior level of the relevant agency. "He added.

The way to the future

By G Seetharaman

Radheshyam Mopalwar Completed his mission at Maharashtra Highway Development Corporation. The day he served as deputy chairman and managing director in September 2015, he conducted a pre-feasibility on the 701 km highway from Nagpur to Mumbai, when Maharashtra's chief executive The minister just announced the tender. , Devendra Fadnavis from Nagpur. This will be a daunting task, with a total area of ​​approximately 20,000 acres of land to be acquired, 85% of which will come from private owners of 392 villages in 10 regions. As a result, MSRDC cannot leave acquisitions to the tax department as usual.

"We acted as a collector's logistics department and provided logistical support through vehicles, land surveys, demarcations. We provided them with manpower." Mopalwar, 62, said he retired in 2018 and is now Maharash General Manager of the Trabang Highway Development Corporation (MSRDC), but has since received two extensions. In addition to the logistical challenges of measuring land and updating land records, MSRDC must persuade 22,000 families to give up their property. As a result, it appointed 350 communicators who held more than 3,000 meetings with landlords.


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"The biggest accident was not seeing media opposition at the scene. Those who did not requisition the land have resisted it," said Mopalwar, a former district commissioner of the Konkan department. He was asked for leave in August 2017 on charges of corruption. But a government-appointed group cleared his name and reinstated him four months later.

Land acquisition for the Rs 55 crore project (also known as the Samruddhi Corridor) was completed within one year and construction began last year. The highway will be operational in December 2021, but a short section of the Thane section will be operational in June 2022. The highway will cut travel time between Mumbai and Nagpur in half to eight hours. Because a 22-kilometre highway passes through wildlife corridors near two protected areas, MSRDC decided to work with the Indian Wildlife Research Institute (WII) to make the road animal friendly.

"We accepted WII's proposal. We are constructing overpasses in some places and overpasses in other places. They also suggested that we set up noise barriers." The Samruddhi corridor is more than seven times the length of the Mumbai-Pune highway and connects Afghanistan. The highway in Gera and Lucknow is more than double. If put into production on time, it can be used as a benchmark for future projects.

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