Playing a key role in infra building
In an interview with Construction Week Online, S Paramasivan, Executive Director (Finance & Commercial), Afcons Infrastructure Limited, talks about greater role private players can play in country’s infrastructure building.
What do you think would be the contribution of private players in infrastructure building?
Private players would play a key role in infrastructure development especially in roads, power and ports. In addition to that, private players are already playing a key role in telecom. One area, which needs to be looked at, is transmission line, which is going to be a key constraint when the power generating capacity increases. May be the government needs to look at this area either through public sector or otherwise.
Railways is another area which would attract maximum attention and private sector would equally be interested in this set-up. Railways would include Dedicated Freight corridors, Metro rail etc.
What are the challenges India face in infrastructure building? How those challenges could be addressed?
The major challenge would be of resources. In our assessment, capital may not be a key constraint, given the various initiatives taken by the government and general state of stock market as well. However, in the resources front, if the various plan initiatives are to be completed strictly as per the plan, both in terms of Human Resources and Equipment Resources, we will face constraints. While, in the case of equipment, it may lead to a long lead-time, in case of Human Resources it is going to be tough. Different organizations are trying multiple ways to address this challenge.
The challenge can be addressed by huge training initiatives on soft skills and hard skills; skill development initiatives for workmen; process driven working and recruitment from other developing nations of a set of qualified people and train them etc.
Even with all this, Human Resource would remain as the single most challenge for infrastructure building in the country.
You are executing projects in Kolkata. What is the current scenario in Kolkata in regards to construction activities and project developments?
Current scenario in Kolkata is positive for construction activities. The very fact that there were lot of projects completed in the recent past and currently, quite a number of projects are undertaken, is a testimony to this statement that the city is witnessing good work of construction activities. We are in the initial stages of our project execution and we find that there are no issues.
Is the socio-economic and political situation in the city conducive enough to do business there?
Kolkota is one of the four Metropolitan cities in the country. Our group has been doing business over there. The social economic and political condition is definitely conducive to do business.
What are the major projects that you are implementing in the city?
We are currently doing one project in Kolkata valued at Rs938 crore. This project is of Kolkota Metro which involves construction of underground Metro of 3.6 km length from Howrah Maidan to West end of Central Station, including three underground stations at Howrah Maidan, Howrah and Mahakaran Stations. The underground tunnel crosses Hooghly river approx. 20 mtrs below bed level. We are constructing the tunnel 20 meters below the Hooghly River. This project is the first underground tunnel construction below a river in India. In the Indian context, this when completed would be a technological marvel.
What are the potential growth sectors in Kolkata? What lies in future for the city?
There are huge growth areas in the city which include infrastructure projects in transportation and marine segments; continued expansion in housing projects under the Mass Housing Scheme and other residential segments; and huge water pipelines, sewage pipelines and related activities.
We expect Kolkata to grow phenomenally on the same lines as that of the other three metros, especially when comparative growth in Kolkata is little less at the current stage.
What are the major big infra projects that are under implementation by government or private players in the city?
There are a number of mega projects that are under implementation in the city which include further extension of Metro (elevated) from Salt Lake to airport; marine jobs by Kolkata Port Trust; dry dock for Garden reach; modernisation of Howrah station and smaller tunnel for electricity board across river Hooghly.