Indian Railway Chronicles: Episode 1

I was returning from my vacation spent at barrack pore with my parents. We reached the Sealdha station and about to say goodbyes when I spot a guy wearing the same T-shirt as mine, the same laptop bag too and accompanied by his parents. What are the chances! Mom and I had a burst of laughter on the scene of coincidence. The Sealdah-New Delhi Duronto Express is about to depart; after some painful goodbyes I moved into the train to find my berth, located my seat and voila! That guy is sitting right there. He sees me, I see him; a moment of silent awkwardness broken by a burst of laughter. We get into a conversation and out comes the facts dropping: ‘Hi! My name is Abhinav. I am in third year of mechanical engineering staying in Jaipur’. What are the chances? Let me reiterate: same clothes, same laptop bags, same berth, same engineering field, both accompanied by parents on that day. Whoa!

The gentleman sitting right next to me asked me weather we were in the same collage, that our shirts were a match. This old guy however was an extra-ordinary fellow. He retired the previous year after full service at SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited) as a metallurgical executive. He had worked in the Bhilai, Bokaro and Durgapur plants from the starting years. We chatted on and this guy just kept amazing me. He was up to date with all advancements happening in the steel industry. We talked about how the technological advancements are pouring in from other nations and increasing the efficiency of the plants drastically by automating the processes. These advancements provided a safety boost to the industry too.

He mentioned about an incident in which a worker fell into the runner carrying molten iron and evaporated in minutes, about how he himself came close to death while standing below a faulty drain which poured molten metal on his head (he was saved by his helmet). He also talked about an incident in the steel plant where it was panic time and everyone ran off from the plant; and he with a few fellows went ahead and controlled the situation, thereby saving the government from a loss of many crores. This event shaped his future with added recognition and he received a Padma Bhushan for his services. He also traveled to many nations far and wide trying to gain industry knowledge and implementing them in the plants in India.

His recent addition has been carbon filters to be added to the top of chimneys which reduce the plant emissions. Another interesting thought he shared was the effect of a small fractional change into the net output of such a large industrial plant. Once, he had been able to make a full 1.3 % change in the output of the plant by process refinement. This converts to a very huge sum if one looks at the output of a steel plant.

At this point the discussion turned about how addition of a steel plant boosts dozens of industries in the near vicinity of the plant. This has a direct impact on the development of the whole region. How the opening of a single steel plant acts as a catalyst for a host of other industries. For the plant to run, we need power plants, Railways, Construction, Metal Working and many more. Similarly, to make use of the by-products, we need cement industries, energy regeneration plants, road building industries and many more. This may sound like textbook knowledge to some but the way he was saying it, you could feel the voice of the emotion in his speech. All great discussions come to an end and so did this one. All of us parted ways with a good-bye and a bangla slang : ‘Abar dekha hobe’ meaning ‘we will meet again’.

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