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F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing

F C Kohli headed with great distinction the Tata Electric Companies and subsequently TCS. He is considered the father of the Indian IT industry. He has made rich contributions to drafting the syllabus for our prestigious IITs. At 90, he still attends to work at TCS’ offices at the Air India Building and Bombay House!

IIT- Kharagpur is the latest to present an honorary doctorate to FCK. He already has six doctorates, Indian and foreign.  FC’s concerns extend from agriculture to energy, nuclear power to education to transportation et al. In a recent discussion, FC referred to the chaos in the urban transportation system. He pointed to public transportation in cities like New York and Singapore that have tackled the issue of the explosive growth in personal transport: “roads are meant for driving vehicles and not for parking these. In Mumbai we find road space taken increasingly for parking vehicles vastly hindering movement of vehicles and pedestrians.”

One can’t agree more. IE has been stressing of the need for mass transportation, especially railways. In a report to CMDA on the Madras 2011 project, I suggested construction of 100 km of surface rail lines and another 100 km of underground rail lines. I pointed to the lack of road space and the tough issues involved in acquisition of land for expanding surface transport. I also pointed to liberal funding available from bilateral and multilateral sources across the globe. Delhi, under the lead of E Sreedharan,  effectively did this by constructing in a short time 193.2 km of metro rail. States must help focus on such systems for the state capitals and principal cities.

In this context the recent problems encountered by the Rs 16,000 crore Hyderabad Metro Rail Project deserve immediate attention. The new Telengana government under K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) should help complete the process of land acquisition and help speed up the work. L&T which took up the work with great interest is encountering serious difficulties in regard to access to the land promised by the government and to suggestions for re-alignment. In such large projects, delays have severe impact on costs and would seriously upset original estimates of profitability. L&T has the reputation for efficient execution of large projects. The KCR government would do well to assist the company to complete the project in quick time. Surely, this mass transport would be a boon to the Hyderabadis.

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