- AKS Chauhan, COO, GR Infraprojects
GR Infraprojects is passionate about equipment - the fact that it has a bank of around 1,800 latest and hi-tech equipment speaks volumes. Consider the fact that one of its recently completed landmark projects was in a high-terrain region like Shillong, and you know that this equipment is being put to good use. In fact, the 60-year-old, New Delhi-based company is constructing a 102 km road project in Meghalaya - ¨another challenging project,¨ as AKS Chauhan, COO, GR Infraprojects tells RAHUL KAMAT in an interview. Excerpts....
GR Infrastructure has a legacy of over 50 years in the construction industry. Please share the company´s landmark achievements.
We had bagged a road project in Shillong that was awarded by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The project was completed much before its scheduled completion date. In fact, NHAI itself, had kept the schedule time for completion as 36 months, as against the normal practice of 30 months or less for projects elsewhere in the country, by looking at the track record of other ongoing and completed projects in the past. However, our completion of the project in a record time of 24 months ahead of schedule, has raised hopes of a changing trend in road construction in the Northeast. Also, on early completion of the project under the BOT model, NHAI granted us a bonus of Rs 43.33 crore.
The Shillong Bypass crosses hilly terrain, where the cutting of hills required large deployment of earthmoving equipment to maintain the construction schedule. Ergo, we deployed state-of-the-art technical solutions, using advanced technical methods, such as the use of mechanically stabilised soil slopes to construct embankments as high as 47 m. Another achievement was the construction of two high-level steel girder bridges across the valley, having a maximum span length.
Apart from roads, which other sectors is GR Infra eyeing?
Although our focus is on roads, where we have more than 10 projects, we also have interest in the bridges and airport sectors. At present, we are executing a flyover project in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, worth Rs 100 crore; for the city, it will be a landmark project. Recently, we have executed two airport-related projects. We have completed runway projects at the Jodhpur airport and the Jaipur airport worth Rs 78 crore and Rs 96 crore, respectively. Currently, we are executing resurfacing of the runway and allied works at the Naliya Air Force Station, Gujarat, worth Rs 133 crore.
How much does the company annually invest in construction equipment?
Procuring state-of-the-art equipment is our passion. At present, we have a bank of around 1,800 latest and hi-tech equipment, worth over Rs 450 crore. Our equipment includes a soil stabiliser, KMA-cold recycler, milling machines, sensor pavers, strew master, cranes, loaders and much more. These equipment are optimally utilised on site for project execution. Most of these construction equipment and plants come with an online tracking system, which helps us optimise the cost of operations and utilisation of machines. As a matter of fact, 90 per cent of our equipment is less than five years old. This fiscal, we have already invested more than Rs 100 crore in new machinery.
What are the new technologies under consideration by your company that will help reduce lifecycle cost in roads projects?
There are many we want to procure. But being realistic, we are in the process of adopting various globally accepted technologies in our domestic project. These include reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), modified bitumen, warm mix technologies, stabilisation of granular layers, hot and cold recycling, micro surfacing, etc. These help improve roads sustainability for a longer period, and thus save recurring maintenance costs. Moreover, they are environment-friendly owing to low carbon emission. The best part is that they help reduce the life-cycle cost of the road.
What is your order book position?
Till now, our company´s order book position is around Rs 8,000 crore. In addition, by the end of this fiscal, we are aiming to add another Rs 2,000 crore. As far as execution of these projects is concerned, it will be 12 to 30 months. So, by the end of the next fiscal, ie by 2017, we will complete most of the projects. However, for a few projects, we are yet to receive appointed dates from the concerned authorities, which are likely to see the light of the day in the fiscal thereafter.
Your company´s presence is mostly in the northern and eastern parts of the country. Any plans to go pan-India?
Yes, we do have plans pan-India, provided we win contracts. For example, we have bid for a road project in Maharashtra, but so far no luck. Similarly, we have placed our bid in Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat, but are yet to taste success in these regions. That said, we are executing four projects in Bihar, a few in Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya and Assam. However, your observation was right about our presence in the eastern part of the country. We are already executing a 102 km rehabilitation and upgrade of an existing road to two-lane on the Jowai-Meghalaya/Assam border. The contract value is around Rs 400 crore and we will complete this project by 2018; based on the EPC mode, it was awarded by NHAI last year.
GR Infraprojects has also diversified into different business verticals. How has this helped the company?
Our diversification is in line with our core business: Road construction. We don´t purchase aggregates from the market, so we can maintain the quality of roads while constructing. You will be surprised to know that we are the only company in India that picks up its own bitumen from the refinery and uses it at our sites. Even the logistics are completely managed by us with regular inspections and checks.
Also in the process of backward integration, to ensure quality road construction, our company has installed and is operating a bitumen emulsion, polymer-modified bitumen and crumb rubber-modified bitumen formulation plant of 40 tph capacity in Udaipur. And, as we have in-house manufacturing, we have been able to construct quality road projects that don´t require maintenance anytime soon after completion. As a result, maintenance costs are saved and our reputation rises in the market.
Year of Establishment: 1965
Top Management: Vinod Kumar Agarwal, Chairman & Managing Director; Ajendra Agarwal, Director-Technical; AKS Chauhan, COO; Anand Rathi, CFO.
Areas of operation: Construction, telecom, overseas business, aggregates and design.
No of Employees: About 3,000
Centre of Operation: Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Ongoing projects: 17
Upcoming Projects: Around 12, worth Rs.4,000-5,000 crore
Completed Projects: 18
turnover: Rs.1,700 crore (2015-16)