ELIAS GEORGE, Managing Director, Kochi Metro Rail Ltd
He's got the smoothest moves in the public sector. And before you jump to any conclusions, we're talking about the projects he is helming! Meet Elias George, Managing Director of the country's most prestigious infrastructure project, Kochi Metro Rail (KMRL). With over 30 years of experience in the public sector, George has served the country in countless ways, assuming diverse roles such as commissioner, principal advisor and additional chief secretary of Kerala. Notably, he has made significant contributions to Kochi's urban transportation sector as one of its main architects. George assumed charge of KMRL in August 2012 and completely changed the technical and institutional parameters of the project. From communication-based train control - which will eventually enable Kochi to have a driverless train - to an integrated transport system with 'single timetable, single ticket and single command and control', many remarkable improvements have been added to Kochi's metro system by this visionary. That said, his most important contribution to Kochi is the initiative taken to revive the city's transportation's lifeline: The water transport system.
Social inclusion was a priority in this project as George roped in members of Kudumbashree (the state's women empowerment and poverty eradication programme) and transgender persons to manage the Kochi Metro stations. With this, KMRL has become one of the first public companies in India to reserve jobs for the transgender community, improving their visibility and acceptance in society. In fact, this initiative has won national and international attention, including reports appearing in media like The Guardian, BBC, and Huffington Post..
As mentioned above, the first integrated water transport project of the country, the Water Metro project, is also his brainchild. It aims to connect people living on the fringes of Vembanad Lake with the Central Business District of Kochi by providing fast boats and a seamless transportation experience. The programme also focuses on improving livelihood as KMRL will be developing roads, public spaces and lighting on the islands..
A senior IAS officer (1982 batch) who started his career as assistant collector of Thalasseri, George has handled major responsibilities in different departments like irrigation, forest, labour, industries and tourism, both in the state and central services. Immediately prior to working with KMRL, he was secretary (power and transport) in Kerala as well as chairman of the Kerala State Electricity Board, handling power augmentation, distribution and transmission. What's more, he had two stints in the Government of India, the last one being joint secretary in the Ministry of Steel (2006- 2011), where he was also a board member of PSUs like SAIL, RINL and MSTC. He was also principal advisor to the government, handling television and broadcasting regulation for TRAI, as well as in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. George has served as private secretary to the Union Cabinet Minister of Surface Transport and Communication from 1990-91. Even during 1985-1988, when he was working as commissioner of Cochin Corporation, he introduced several noteworthy projects such as constructing a centre median on the city's MG Road, installing a music fountain in front of the High Court, and naming the streets of Kochi city..
In light of his remarkable work with Phase-1 of Kochi Metro, CW is confident that we'll be hearing much more of Elias George - we wish him all the best as he continues to move on the fast track!.