Charanbir Singh Sethi, Managing Director, C&C Constructions Ltd
Offering a unique business model, C&C Constructions Ltd is reckoned among the fastest growing construction companies of India. Established in 1996, the company has focused on the infrastructure construction segment, including highways, airports, telecom infrastructure and power transmission. Since inception, it has acquired expertise in EPC contracts and has also forayed into urban infrastructure. Since 2003, a portion of its operations and revenues have been from Afghanistan.
Charanbir Singh Sethi, Managing Director, C&C Constructions Ltd, elaborates on the company’s balanced business portfolio from inception till date in a conversation with Shriyal Sethumadhavan. Excerpts…
The big picture
We started as a construction company that focused on roads in Punjab and other subcontracts. Our initial works was to the tune of Rs 36 lakh. And then we registered ourselves with state governments and settled on subcontracts from major contractors in the road and airport sectors. Further, we ventured into Afghanistan for the construction of roads for the US Army and the World Bank. We opted to execute projects there as the market was very slow in 2002 and there, were barely any projects coming up. Also our qualification was an issue. So, we wanted to complete an international project in order to get qualified for other major projects. In the process, we executed the Kabul-Kandahar and Kandahar-Herat roads. We have implemented works on around 700 km of roads in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2010.
After 2007, we began to focus on India. So, where Afghanistan contributed to 60 per cent of the company’s turnover, now 15 per cent of the turnover was drawn from there. In 2009, we ventured into a project with the Railways to draw up an ambitious dedicated freight corridor project and water and sewage. Currently we have taken up works of around Rs 3,500 crore for roads in Bihar. We are also executing works for the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission JNNURM) in Punjab to the tune of Rs 100 crore. Our order book as of date stands at Rs 3,200 crore.
Projects in force
At present, we have maximum projects in the roads sector all of which are government projects. Among our milestones, is the road from Muzaffarpur to Sonbarsa. Almost 95 per cent completed, it incorporates four projects, of which three are being executed by us. The cost for the three projects adds up to around Rs 1,100 crore. Our exigent projects also include the Yamuna Expressway developed by Jai Prakash Industries (JP). We are implementing 120 km of concrete road in a single pave of 16 m. Also, for this project, we are moving more than 50,000 tonne of material everyday and completing almost 700 m average concrete road for the first time in India.
Among our ongoing projects, Zirakpur-Parwanoo, an NHAI project, is one of the most challenging works with JP as its developer. This BOT project bypasses Kalka-Pinjore and has seven viaducts. In Afghanistan, I would undeniably say that the Afghan Parliament is our landmark project and will be completed in March 2012.
At present, we are also involved in the building of a bus stand, Busopolis, in Mohali for the Punjab government. This will be the first air-conditioned bus terminus developed on a property of around 10 lakh sq ft. The total project cost is estimated at Rs 400 crore. The challenge is that it has to be handed over within the next 17 months. We are currently seeking major projects to the tune of over Rs 300 crore.
The most fundamental problem we confront while executing our projects, whether it is India or Afghanistan, is logistics. In India, for our activities in Bihar, we have our own quarries but transportation is a big challenge, as is working with the locals. The prominent hurdle in our Afghanistan projects is transferring equipment and transporting by air. So we have the necessary equipment for that. We also started plying a vessel for six months between Mumbai in India and Bandar Abbas in Iraq to cart our equipment because the route from Pakistan is not open.
We have been in a JV with B Seenaiah & Company (BSCPL) for almost 10 years. This would probably be the most long-lasting relationship one could ever have in the roads sector. This year, we have also signed on with a Spanish firm, Isolux Corsan, to execute EPC contracts above Rs 600 crore in value. Since incorporation, we have achieved expertise in EPC projects. Whatever projects they get on a BOT basis, they will be 60 per cent partners and we will own the remaining 40 per cent. Apart from that, we plan to venture into power with them. That is the main thrust area: power transmission. While our BSCPL JV is to successfully execute projects in India as well as Afghanistan, our tie-up with Isolux Corsan is for India and other countries we plan to enter in future.
Equipment at play
We are associated with equipment leaders like Caterpillar and Strata. We also use the best technologies available. For best results, we import a lot of cement, bitumen and equipment. At present, we are using a 16 m-wide paver to lay concrete. It is being used in India for the first time and gives us speed and quality. We use the latest technology taking into consideration its impact on the environment. For our pavers, we use electrical vibrators and electrical heaters rather then diesel heaters or propane heaters.
To ensure a safe working environment, we have recently started a training programme at site for lean constructions. We consider ways to improve the system in-house to minimise wastage. For lean construction, for example, we have Sampath, who visits us and advises us on the subject. He was with Shapoorji Pallonji and they have initiated an institute on lean construction.
The company’s key strength has been its manpower as the attrition rate is very low. Our key personnel have been with us for a number of years, from the company’s date of establishment. Also, our directors closely supervise the projects.
We look forward to having good JV partners, improve on technology, implement new ideas and bring in a new culture. Also, apart from Afghanistan, we are also bidding for projects in countries like Bangladesh and Oman, which are still to materialise.
India is growing and so are construction companies. The reason is the boom in the infrastructure sector. However, the drawback lies in getting finances for projects. This is being tackled to an extent with the government forming infrastructure funds. I am certain this will help the country to a great extent.
Established year of the company: 1996
Top Management (Promoters): Gurjeet Singh Johar, Charanbir Singh Sethi, Rajbir Singh, Sanjay Gupta, Amrit Pal Singh Chadha, Rajendra Mohan Aggarwal.
Number of Employees: Over 9,500
Current order book position: Rs 3,200 crore. (As on 2010)
Centre of Operation: India - Bihar, Delhi/NCR, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh.
Turnover: Rs 1,179 crore
Some ongoing projects:
• Power and Transmission project in JV with Isolux Corsan.
• Gardez- Khost Road Project and Parliament Building & Chancery Complex Project - Afghanistan.
• BR-08 and BR-09, NH-57 and DFCC Project- from New Karwadiya in Bihar to New Ganj Khawaja on Mughulsarai.
• Kursela-Package 9; Kursela-Pothia-Falka-meergunj- Sarsi Road (SH-77).
• Mokama-Munger -NH-80 and Muzzafarpur-Sonabarsa - Bihar.
• SH-71, 74, 76, 77 - Bihar State Highways Project.
• Underground Car Parking Project I and II in Delhi.
• Barsar-Jahu road project and Una-Barsar in Himachal Pradesh.
• Jabalpur Project and Turnkey tower package at Shujalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
• Kurali Kiratpur BOT Project; Sewerage system under JNNURM; Mohali Bus Terminus and Commercial Complex; Tepla-Banur Road Project - Punjab.
• Zirakpur-Parwanoo Project - Connecting Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab.
• Yamuna Expressway Project - Greater Noida.