Bijay Agarwal, Managing Director, Salarpuria/Sattva Group
Growth is this company's mantra. Founded in the late 1980s by the Late GD Salarpuria, Bengaluru-based Salarpuria Group has gone on to establish a keen presence in the construction industry. Not one to rest on its laurels, Salarpuria is now looking to further expand its footprint, pan-India, with Sattva, an extension of the group, having diverse interests including real-estate development, special economic zone development, infrastructure, township development, facilities management and aero accessories. To learn more, CW caught up with Bijay Agarwal, Managing Director, Salarpuria/Sattva Group, well-known in real-estate circles for his dynamic vision, sharp business acumen and impressive track record. Highlights of the conversation…
It's been a momentous journey from Salarpuria to Sattva. What have been the key milestones thus far? Why the name 'Sattva'?'Sattva' is a part of Salarpuria and all projects in Bengaluru and other cities like Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Pune and Jaipur are implemented by Salarpuria and Sattva. We started in a very small way in 1993 with a small team headed by me under the guidance of the Late GD Salarpuria. Over the years, we have grown manifold, which is a memorable journey. We have completed and delivered several IT industrial parks, commercial office spaces and retail outlets that have been aesthetically built and conform to the highest building standards. These have been let out to reputed multinational clients. The growth and success during this journey have been mainly owing to the faith reposed in us by our clients and the excellent teamwork of our workforce. We have completed 8 million sq ft of commercial, residential and retail space and around 10 million sq ft of residential and commercial space is under development. The names 'Salarpuria' and 'Sattva' represent the ultimate truth and purity; that's the reason our slogan is, 'Trust what we build'.
Sattva is a diversified group, yet people often refer to you as the 'real-estate tycoon of commercial IT space'. Why?I do agree that people often refer to me as the tycoon of IT space because of our contributions and achievements in commercial real estate. But it is a fact that we are also into the residential segment in a much bigger way compared to commercial space. Within a short span, I believe people will also recognise us for our achievements in fields like aerospace, technology and education. We have recently forayed into the aerospace and technology sectors. This is only the beginning. We are making all-out efforts and strongly believe that the company's capabilities will soon be recognised because of its strength and products in the aerospace sector. Further, we have an international school of high standards and are trying to reach other cities with the same brand name, 'Greenwood High'.
Please tell us about your ongoing projects in real-estate development, SEZ development, infrastructure, township development, facilities management and aero accessories.Real-estate development: We are constructing a 400 room, five star hotel on Outer Ring Road, Bengaluru, which will be managed by the Holiday Inn group. Currently, around 10 million sq ft of residential and commercial space is in the planning and execution stage in Bengaluru and other cities. We have obtained approval from the Ministry of Industries & Commerce, Government of India, for three sector-specific SEZs in Bengaluru and Andhra Pradesh, which are on hold owing to policy decisions of the Government of India. We are exploring possibilities to enter the infrastructure sector. We are also in the process of getting approvals for setting up a solar power project. And we are developing 51.17 acre, allotted to us by the Andhra Pradesh government in Visakhapatnam, where we plan to develop high-end villas, row houses and apartments with all modern facilities.
Facility management services: We are managing facility management services of 5.5 million sq ft of commercial space, including housekeeping, security, electromechanical, pest control, gardening and STP operations. We plan to expand this business by seeking contracts from other clients and institutions. We hope to have a big presence in this segment in upcoming years.
Aero accessories: Aero Accessories & Systems Pvt Ltd (AASPL) and Sattva E-tech Pvt Ltd are into the business of design, development and production of certain equipment required by the defence. The hydraulic actuators for Saras aircraft, which have been approved, are being designed and developed by AASPL. Sattva E-tech Pvt Ltd is in the business of software and development of data acquisition systems and other devices required for medical applications and nuclear power plants. Currently, the company is exporting to different clients in Switzerland, the US and Europe.
What is the USP of your projects? Are you deploying any new technologies in any of your current projects?The USP of our projects is quality, timely delivery and offering value to customers. Customer satisfaction is our motto and this is what drives our business. Currently, we are developing 1,700 high-rise apartments, where we are using formwork made of high-quality aluminium materials for all core walls. The core walls will be made of high-grade concrete without using blocks. This technology will reduce the project completion period.
You aim to establish your presence across the country. Is there a plan in place to achieve this objective?We have projects in different cities of the country like Kolkata, Hyderabad, Vizag, Pune, Jaipur and of course, Bengaluru. In Kolkata, we are constructing the tallest building in eastern India with 70 floors and it will have super premium residential apartments. We are also doing a large project under PPP in Vishakhapatnam to construct villas and apartments. We are doing several premium residential projects in Bengaluru, one of the largest among which is Salarpuria Greenage with 1,700 luxury apartments.
Why are architects called in from abroad for most high-end projects? Aren't Indian architects qualified or experienced enough to handle such projects?Most high-end projects comprise malls or retail space. The concept of malls has come in from the US and other European countries, which have expertise in building bigger space. Recently, the same trend is being repeated in China. Because of their experience in developing such large retail spaces, foreign architects are usually preferred. However, their role is limited to developing the master plan and design and development specifications. Even foreign architects require their Indian counterparts to execute such large projects.
The terms 'carpet area' and 'super built-up area' are most misused. What is your take on this?Carpet area is the net area available to customers, excluding outer wall space. Super built-up area consists of carpet area plus other common areas used by all apartment owners and the area of facilities made available in the project. These terms cannot be misused and, today, we have knowledgeable and savvy customers who are aware of their rights and the prices being charged.
What is your view on ethics in this profession? How far would you go in ensuring ethical practices in your projects?Good practices and ethics are most important in any business. We too religiously follow this maxim. Our hallmark is transparency and ensuring value and delivering quality to our customers.
What is your opinion about 'going green'? To what extent are you implementing 'green' in your projects?'Going green' has become a marketing slogan. I feel it is nothing new as we have been practising it over the years. Today, everyone is aware about the environment, including school children. As far as we are concerned, we maintain maximum open space, reduce wastage in water consumption, save energy and reuse water by using sewage treatment plants. Our buildings are designed to get maximum daylight and ensure circulation of fresh air to reduce energy consumption. We use solar lights in common areas and plant trees based on the local flora and fauna that do not require much water. We take steps wherever possible to implement the green concept in all our projects.
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