The toasts of construction

The construction industry could not have asked for a more integrated play than the one witnessed at the INDIA CONSTRUCTION FESTIVAL (ICF) on October 24-25 in New Delhi. Needless to say, the CEOs of construction companies are a hard-working lot and getting them to come together needs more precision than a BIM programme can offer! Vinayak Deshpande, Managing Director, Tata Projects, who has been responsible for bringing about a surge in the fortunes of the company, which is growing at a fast clip, was named the ‘CONSTRUCTION WORLD Person of the Year’.

The Dilip Buildcon family, represented by Dilip Suryavanshi, his sons Rohan and Karan, and Director & CEO, Devendra Jain; L&T Directors DK Sen and MV Satish; and the top brass of Tata Projects highlighted the contribution of their teams in delivering world-class projects in time and the contribution of technology to their success. New companies included the likes of GR Infra, GHV and PSP, while Welspun Enterprises enjoyed an encore.

Our partnership with Engineering News-Record (ENR) brought in the CEOs of Bechtel, Black & Veatch, Mott MacDonald, Hatch, ENKA, Khatib & Alami, TBEA, Jacobs, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, and several more. ôI met all my premium customers and friends from the industry and the icing on the cake was that I got my award from the managing director of my previous company,ö beamed Deepak Garg, Director and CEO, SANY, as he received a round of applause for being crowned ‘Equipment India Person of the Year’ by previous year’s winner Sandeep Singh, Managing Director, Tata Hitachi. Sandeep Singh had just concluded a session, ‘From Cranes to Drones’, where he locked horns with Subodh Dixit, Executive Director & President, Shapoorji Pallonji; Rajan Aiyer, Managing Director, Trimble; and Yogesh Sharma, Executive Director-BD, NBCC.

The day’s highlight was the exclusive presentation of the ‘Statue of Unity’ project by L&T and Turner International. The world’s tallest statue (twice the height of the Statue of Liberty at 184 m) is set to become India’s showpiece engineering marvel.

Meanwhile, the Leadership Forum had already set the stage afire with the likes of DK Sen, Director, L&T; Ravi Sehgal, Chairman, EEPC India; Rohit Modi, CEO, Essel Infraprojects; and Elizabeth King, Director-Middle East and South Asia, Mott MacDonald, discussing diversification across boundaries and verticals.

Earlier on, while experts from KPMG, JICA, CLSA and Centrum deliberated upon the challenges of finance, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry Suresh Prabhu strode in, having recovered from a minor ailment the previous evening. He encouraged the industry captains to take on challenging projects and participate in nation-building. He also pointed out the opportunities arising from India’s infrastructure aspirations. He was right! Earlier on, eminent London-based economist Graham Robinson, in his keynote address, stated that India would be the third fastest construction market in the world by 2030. Robinson gave the audience a ringside view of the socioeconomic trends and growth forecasts for India and the rest of the world.

Infrastructure think-tank FIRST Construction Council (FCC) released a report on TMT bars, which explained how our Rs 5.7-trillion infrastructure investment is at a serious risk owing to the breach in quality standards of this vital building material, which would corrode such investments inside out in an accelerated manner and put millions of lives in danger. Our report highlighted that 18 out of 26 brands tested in a government-approved laboratory failed the BIS 1786 test. The failure was acute in terms of the percentage of phosphorous and sulphur, prime causes of corrosion. FCC has already alerted the ministry of this lacuna and urged the government to strictly enforce this quality standard. Check out the report on the website

In all, it was a most informative and inspiring event. Let’s raise a toast to the awardees, and best practices in the construction industry!