‘Successful completion of the Lucknow Metro project has ignited hopes for similar projects in other cities of UP.’
In a questionnaire, Kumar Keshav, Managing Director, Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC), told The Sunday Guardian how the Lucknow Metro project has been executed and operated well within the sanctioned budget and within an extremely compressed deadline. Excerpts:
Q: The Lucknow Metro project is one of the most ambitious Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) projects of the government that has achieved the distinction of being the fastest metro construction project ever in this country. How did you and your team make it happen?
A: We had meticulously and intelligently chalked out different strategies for achieving the target for completion the 8.5 km “Priority Corridor” between Transport Nagar and Charbagh and then commissioning it in a very tight deadline. For instance, a Chief Project Manager (CPM) and a Deputy Chief Project Manager (Dy CPM) were made in-charge for completing the construction of the Metro corridor. A team of experienced professionals were attached with them for executing the work at a very fast pace. The LMRC devised a strategy to work simultaneously from both the ends, thus saving a lot of time in the construction stage.
The civil contractor was, in fact, provided with every help to accelerate the pace of work. The LMRC engineers pitched in everywhere for their help. All contactors were treated as “partners” in the project and they worked very closely with the LMRC team. Timely payments to the contractors’ in-between the project ensured that they all worked day and night in different shifts to turn this dream into a reality in just less than three years.
To monitor the work and speed of the project, regular project monitoring was done by me by visiting, inspecting and reviewing the progress of the project at site, along with a simultaneous monitoring of the progress through MS Project and Primawera softwares.
A reverse clock was also installed in the office to remind everyone about the target date and the number of days remaining for achieving the target. Job responsibility and accountability of each of the jobs were fixed and the CPM and Dy CPM were made in-charge for executing the completion of the project in a time-bound manner. It ultimately paid off and LMRC completed the project in a record timeline.
Apart from these project strategies, punctuality, integrity, ethics and commitment have always remained the core organisational values which propel the Lucknow Metro team to march ahead on a mission to complete the project on time and deliver results with flying colours. These values are, again, based on a very high level of professionalism, discipline, righteousness, trust and transparency in LMRC which form the base of character building right from day one of joining the organisation.
Q. The launch of Metro operations in Lucknow will set a benchmark for other cities to follow and the city will be referred to as “before Metro and after Metro” when it comes to phases of development in infrastructure. In what ways is this true?
A: Absolutely. This is true in the sense that today Lucknow boasts of its own Metro where the possibility of Metro Rail was a distant dream for the people just three years back. It is a dream that has come true for the people of Lucknow, for the media and all other stakeholders associated directly or indirectly with this project.
In the process of the development of urban infrastructure and Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) in Lucknow, this is definitely a landmark development from where the history of the city can be referred to as “before & after Metro”. The ancient city of “Nawabs” is now a modern city of “Metro” too.
The successful completion of such a mega project within the sanctioned budget and stipulated timeframe has now ignited hopes for Metro rail projects in other important cities of Uttar Pradesh. Urban transport is one of the important priorities of the state government and Metro projects are being planned in many important cities of Uttar Pradesh such as Kanpur, Agra, Meerut, Varanasi, Allahabad and Gorakhpur. The LMRC has ushered a revolution in bringing MRTS in Uttar Pradesh and is leading the role in doing consultancy, coordination, research, planning and implementation of Metro projects in these upcoming urban centres as well.
Q. What changes will LMRC bring to the life of people in Lucknow?
A: The Metro project will link the major localities of the city, thus reducing commuting time from hours to minutes. It will also ease congestion and encroachment, a problem which has assumed massive proportions in recent years. The Metro project is also expected to reduce the cost of travel. Boosting the transport and infrastructure is expected to attract more companies and services to the city, bolstering the employment prospects and thus transforming it into a business hub for Transit Oriented Development (TOD).
The introduction of Metro will yield benefits from non-tangible parameters such as saving due to equivalent reduction in road construction and maintenance, vehicle operating costs, less atmospheric air pollution and socio-economic benefits of travel time, better accessibility, better comfort and quality of life which play an important role in attracting foreigners as well as domestic tourists.
It is also expected that in future, the Metro will generate many job opportunities for the people in different sectors, including civil engineering, electrical engineering, signalling, telecommunication, operation and maintenance (O&M), customer relations, public relations etc.
Q. How will Lucknow gain as a city which is known for its heritage monuments more than being a smart city?
A: Lucknow has always been a perfect combination of its rich tradition and modernisation. On the one hand, its heritage monuments like the Bada Immambada, Rumi Darwaza, Residency, Clock Tower etc., exhibit its cultural richness; the Hazratganj market, on the other hand, displays a great example of the modern lifestyle, fashion and food. Today, Lucknow has become a city of beautiful malls, broad roads, flyovers, modern parks etc., but it has never lost its tradition and value. It is still known for its culture and heritage.
Keeping this in mind, Lucknow Metro has ensured that the design of its Metro Train and the Metro stations also bear a resemblance and a blend of this traditional and heritage city. The exterior of the Lucknow Metro train has been designed specially on the lines and is a tribute to the cultural richness of the city where livery in golden colours is inspired by the Chakankari craftsmanship of the city. The front shape of the train shows the spirit of the fabulous Roomi Gate, Bara-Imambara and Asifi Masjid and blending of black colour in front of the Metro is inspired from the modern feel of the Hazaratganj.
Q. Will the Metro play an important role in attracting foreign and domestic tourists?
A: The “City of Nawabs” already attracts a very large number of foreign and domestic tourists. The introduction and start of the Metro railway has also given an opportunity for all the domestic and foreign tourists to come and travel in the smartest mode of public transport. Once fully operational from Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport to Munshipulia by April 2019, the Metro will provide more reasons for tourists to travel and enjoy, as it will cover almost 23 km of network through the length and breadth of the capital city of Uttar Pradesh.