Please share with us your views on the transformative phase of Indian infrastructure?
India is at the take-off stage of economic development cycle and it would not have been easier without the push on infrastructure development. Government of India has taken up multi- pronged strategy toward infrastructure development. There are lots of emphasise on Surface transport by increasing and enhancing National Highways, Expressways and Inland waterways. In aviation, the passenger traffic capacities are being augmented for major airports with new airports at Tier 2 cities. Such initiatives along with focus on cross country connectivity, connectivity to hinterlands, urban infrastructure, infrastructure development for Border Security, are all driven together. We are at the most exciting phase of Infrastructure development of India.
Can we say that Indian infra space has achieved and is on a never before envious path since the past 5 years?
We have almost identified the infrastructure gap of our country and are putting our best effort to make up the time lost in making India infrastructure ready. For a geographically vast country like India with world’s largest population, it is not easy to make it ready within 5 years but we will surely have the world’s largest network of highways, railways, waterways & airways by 2047. In infrastructure construction phase, we are creating records every day. And this is happening purely on our own strength.
In your opinion, which is the key infrastructure segment propelling the country's growth?
India is a country which is mountain locked in the North and North East and also has the longest coast line. We are developing all the segments with equal impetus, be it highways, railways, waterways and airports. We are utilising the waterways in a bigger way, even for domestic transport. We are also building ropeways in a larger way to connect the hilly regions. All segments are on full throttle.
What has been your organization role in contributing towards this phase of infra-transformation?
We are approaching our 100 years of construction service to the nation. We started our operations in India as a subsidiary of Cementation Company Limited, UK, as a specialist Engineering Company in the field of Cementation and applied Geotechnical processes in Civil and Mining Engineering. For India’s first Metro Railway, Kolkata Metro, we were contracted for undertaking Diaphragm wall, a new technique at that point of time in 70’s. Innovation has always been in our blood. Since then, we have travelled a long way and are today recognised as one stop solution for all Engineering and Construction needs, be it MRTS or airports or ports or highways or bridges or water or hydel project or buildings.
We as an organization believe in delivering project on time maintaining the highest standards of safety and quality. Our core competence lies in delivering large, complex and complicated projects, be it a 10-km long tunnel in an urban environment or in young Himalayas or an 8 km long approach jetty on an open sea condition. We are amongst the very few Company having presence in all the segments of infrastructure development – such as Highways, Bridges, Ports and Harbour, airports, MRTS, Railways, inland water transport.
How much is the role of technology in shaping this phase in an effective manner?
Role of technology is immense. The technically superior structures such as high-speed rails, very large diameter tunnels, modern airport terminal buildings, deep port, island breakwater etc are challenging projects and needs latest technology in construction techniques.
Tell us about the key challenges faced & strategies to overcome the same?
Scarcity of Skilled manpower, bureaucracy, negative outlook by bankers, one sided contract clauses, local issues are the few challenges in construction sector. The execution needs proper trained workforce on ground. Lot of focus is required to generate more skilled work force in specific trades, proper model required to ensure consistency and less turnaround of labour forces. To overcome the same, the Industry has to first understand the need for training, recognise the immense rolework force plays and value and appreciate that. Gradually aim to shift towards mechanised operation from manual mode of operation.
To minimise the construction time and to have better quality structure, emphasise is to be given towards precast structure. Bureaucracy is still a major deterrent in government contacts. Things doesn’t move. One sided and Onerous contract classes should be replaced by FIDIC contracts. Banking sector needs to be more supportive to the construction industry. Multiple bonds, guarantees, securities required to be submitted should be reduced. Dispute resolution on fast track and time bound mechanism, should be made mandatory in all contracts. The present government, particularly MoRTH, has definitely looked into some of the suggestions and the grievances of the industry but more needs to be done.
Can you share your views on how the sector will shape up in the near future?
Construction sector has always delivered with so many infrastructure assets built across country including the most challenging geography and hostile environment. Construction industry of India is poised to be the largest in the world and will also be ready to take their experience to international market. The construction industry now deserves more recognition and a balanced contracting environment to keep them motivated and growing.