Turnaround man Pradeep Singh Kharola is new Air India CMD; how he earned this iconic reputation

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New Delhi | Published: November 28, 2017 7:19:47 PM

The example is Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), the city bus service which Kharola transformed from a loss-making entity into a profitable one way back in 2000 and it is still in the green.

Pradeep Singh Kharola Turnaround man Pradeep Singh Kharola is new Air India CMD; how he earned this iconic reputation (Twitter Image)

Remember E Sreedharan, the man behind carving Delhi Metro into the rocky ground of the city from Qutub Minar to the underground world of bustling Chandhni Chowk? Well, his stature became iconic for having achieved what many had then dubbed as being virtually impossible. Now, the question being asked is, whether the newly appointed Air India chief Pradeep Singh Kharola, a 1985-batch IAS officer, do a Sreedharan and turnaround the national carrier? The task is more difficult as the state-based carrier is disinvestment bound. But going by Kharola’s work standards, the task could well be achieved. He is known for doing turnarounds in difficult situations. The example is Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), the city bus service which he transformed from a loss-making entity into a profitable one way back in 2000 and it is still in the green.

Not just that, his biggest achievement has been developing the Bengaluru Metro for the tech hub too. A difficult task due to rocky terrain of the city, making the project expensive and time-consuming aside from having to deal with the tough politics of the state capital and the traffic chaos on the streets. Under Kharola’s management, the first phase of 42 km of Bengaluru Metro took a decade to complete which is half the term he served as director.

Kharola has set an ambitious target for the second phase of 72 km to be completed by 2020. The second phase will connect the tech hubs of Electronics city and Whitefield. This is expected to triple the number of travellers to over 1.5 million a day. He also led a unique public-private initiative of getting corporates to build stations, helping reduce costs.

In 2015, Kharola was given additional charge of the post of additional chief secretary to tourism department, government of Karnataka. Kharola also held the post of the chairman of Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation in 2013.

At Air India, according to a senior ministry official, Kharola’s appointment is a procedural step. His main job will be to run the airliner till it gets a buyer and to ensure losses are minimised.

Kharola has a PhD in Public Transport systems from IIT- Delhi, the expertise he brings in management, raising funds from global institutions and focus on public-private partnership in large projects, would be of great use when he will handle the affairs disinvestment bound Air India.

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