Addressing a gathering in Ahmedabad, Mr Sreedharan appealed to the engineers to get a "different orientation, standard and mission for handling various infrastructure projects for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of (Rs) 5 trillion."
"In our country, engineers are not able to come up very fast. We (engineers) are not taking enough efforts to keep ourselves up-to-date. Engineering colleges or institutes that we have in the country, according to me, are producing very sub-standard quality of engineers," said Mr Sreedharan, a Padma Vibhusan awardee credited for successfully steering challenging projects like Konkan rail and Delhi Metro.
He was speaking at UN Mahida memorial lecture on the topic of "professional ethics and role of engineers," organised by the state chapter of the Institution of Engineers (India).
Mr Sreedharan referred to a study conducted by a magazine which surveyed some 300 engineering colleges to conclude that only 29 per cent engineers are employable, while 30 per cent can be made employable after further studies, whereas 48 per cent are simply not employable.
Highlighting the paradox, Mr Sreedharan said while most engineering colleges are producing sub-standard graduates, the "best engineers" or those coming out of the IITs and NITs are leaving the country for better opportunities abroad. "What I find is that, in this country, the best engineers or those coming out of IITs and NITs straightaway make a beeline to foreign countries for higher studies or better employment. Many even join IT or management degree," the retired Indian Engineering Service officer said.
He also expressed doubt if engineers showed any obligation by completing works on time and within estimated cost.
"The country needs very learned engineers. Prime Minister declared that he has set a target of Rs 5 trillion for infrastructure projects. If these projects are to be handled, the team of engineers in the country will have to have a different orientation and standard with a different mission," he added.