Tag Archives: E-governance

Building Smart

According to McKinsey, construction holds the dubious honour of having the lowest productivity gains of any industry. The reasons attributed to this include continued use of labour instead of technology; lack of consolidation; and the fact that builders are still averse to using technology even though architects increasingly espouse it.
Technology is becoming key: The MoRTH is trying to escalate the pace of execution from 25 km to 40 km per day; the Prime Minister’s PRAGATI project, where he reviews projects worth Rs 9 trillion, is regularly laying stress upon speed of execution of metro projects, power plants; and there is a race for implementing affordable housing projects in line with the PMAY, for which incentives are being provided to developers and buyers.

In fact, L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji and NCC have qualified for a number of such projects and these are being executed using technologies like MIVAN. Design and engineering, too, are gaining importance as cities are considering master planning, which will bring tools of urban planning into play. Pre-engineered buildings, prefab and shuttering systems are being deployed like never before. Road building companies are completing projects to earn bonuses by advancing completion deadlines. What’s more, the smart cities mission has advocated the use of technology in planning, administering and maintaining assets for cities. This has encouraged the use of IoT devices, GPS systems, RFID, digital systems, advanced CCTV, Wi-Fi, waste-to-energy management, tracking devices, data management, e-governance and so on.

With the advent of technology comes the need for capacity building, where procurement, engineering, architecture and design departments need to upgrade themselves. Inability to upgrade these skills will lead to flaws in bidding documents, specifications, withdrawal of tenders and failures in generating interest in tenders. This, in turn, would lead to delays in project execution. (Delays in projects cost our nation over Rs 500 billion per annum.)

Clearly, the world is changing and India is transforming. Globally, 3D printing is being used to build flats. Modular buildings, like the one built by a Chinese company that built 57 stories in 19 days, are setting new benchmarks. Just as smart phones are being sold all over India even though so many parts of the country do not have access to electricity, we will have to pursue the dialogue to convert India into a smart nation even though gaps exist in basic delivery of services.

Do visit SM@RT URBANATION on March 22-23, 2018 at HICC, Hyderabad and experience, observe and connect with the smart solutions that are changing our lives – and our nation.

We are getting there

NITI Aayog has put forth a plan to turn India’s economy to reach a size of $7.5 trillion, (though targeting $10 trillion) or more than three times of what it is today, at $2 trillion. Implementation of GST, tax reform and ease of doing business (read the Cover Story) are all parts of the building blocks of this plan. And, they all seem to be moving on course so far. India is on the throes of a massive change. The change is not only limited to economy and industry but is also being instituted in social behaviour, and most importantly, in changing mindsets. Just look at what all is happening: Swachh Bharat, Digital India, Smart Cities, AMRUT, Affordable Housing, E-governance, E-Procurement, Make in India, Direct Benefit Transfer, Demonetisation, black money campaign, renewable energy thrust, UDAN, etc, and other social campaigns such as the Ujwala Yojna, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and so on. This is a lot of work in so short a time and work is in progress.

The recently announced affordable housing scheme and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or PMAY have seen the launch of over 350 projects to build about 2 lakh houses with a private sector commitment of investing Rs 38,000 crore. The cost of constructing these units will be in the range of Rs 15 lakh to Rs 30 lakh with an average construction cost of Rs 18 lakh per house.

Under PMAY-U, central assistance is provided to each beneficiary in the range of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2.35 lakh. Of the 2 lakh houses, over 1 lakh will be constructed in Maharashtra, followed by 41,921 houses in the NCR; 28,465 in Gujarat; 7,037 in Karnataka; and 6,055 in Uttar Pradesh; among others. Cement prices have already reached pre-demonetisation levels on the back of demand coming from infrastructure and will firm further due to these housing projects.

GST is on track and is likely to cause another disruption for a quarter, but will soon bring great prosperity. Distressed assets of around $6.8 trillion sitting on books of the banks would also heave a sigh of relief as firms and funds like KKR, Lone Star, Kotak and Edelweiss are planning to mobilise their resurrection. It is estimated by experts that the capital required for the next four to five years to resolve distressed situations is about Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore, and it is already being provided for by NBFCs, PEs and international funds.

The PM completes three years on May 26 this month and a lot is on his plate. Fortunately, for us, his plans have accorded priority to infrastructure and while public spending is leading the way, the private sector is preparing to jump in the fray too. Recently, at a private charity function, I bumped into Sajjan Jindal, Chairman of JSW Group, and when I posed him a casual question on whether the private sector was ready to invest into the India story: “We are getting there,” he quipped.