We are involved in almost all states in urban planning efforts

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We are involved in almost all states in urban planning efforts
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We are involved in almost all states in urban planning efforts

01 Dec 2009 Long Read

Prof SS Chakraborty, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Consulting Engineering Services (India) Pvt Ltd

Consulting Engineering Services (India) Pvt Ltd (CES), a multi-faceted engineering and architectural services organisation, provides an entire array of solutions to various sectors. Developing infrastructure and working in diverse fields, ranging from urban planning to agriculture, designing ports and bridges to e-commerce, building eco-friendly energy systems to improving health-care services, today, CES proclaims to have created an impact on the global forum. Prof SS Chakraborty, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, CES, gives a rundown on their entire gamut of solutions to Jayanthi Narayan.

Tell us about the services offered by your company.
We provide any and all kinds of services to the construction and infrastructure industries. We get in when the opportunity is spotted, like doing concept and pre-feasibility studies for an infrastructure initiative, go on to develop project reports that include recommendations on the institutional and finance aspects, facilitate implementation, and are involved in stabilising a project. For instance, in the second Vivekananda Bridge across the Hooghly river, my company wore many hats; we were part of the concessionaire consortium, led the design team rendering services to the EPC contractor and were on the construction supervision team. The execution of the varied mandates was carried out scrupulously and transparently. But, before all this, after carrying out a feasibility study, we developed the project on a PPP basis. To this day, this is the biggest such initiative in the bridge sector in India. We are doing something similar in the health sector with Burdwan Health City.

What made the bridge project so interesting?
The second Vivekananda Bridge Tollway Project in NH 2, a technological wonder in steel and concrete, not just supplements the 75 year-old Vivekananda Bridge but provides an efficient link between major corridors on both sides of the Hooghly. The bridge has special features like the 880-m-long, 29-m-wide cable-supported, extra-dosed design, built with 254 precast, pre-stressed segments weighing 135 to 150 tonne each. This was the first ever Indian bridge to win the Bridge Award of Excellence from the American Segmental Bridge Institute for innovation in design and construction.

How does your architecture and interior design stream function?
This was one of the first of the CES streams to develop intensively and receive international recognition, commencing with the award of the contract for the royal palace in Muscat, Oman, in 1970. The Architectural & Interior Design stream of CES, have carried out more than 100 major projects both in India and abroad. Current major projects include the Apex Hospital and Medical College, Bhuban-eswar; Videocon E Habitat Centre, Kolkata; IIM, Shillong; NISER, Bhuban-eswar and NIFT Campus, Mumbai.

You are also involved in the development of the plan for the MDC National Stadium Complex for the 2010 Commonwealth Games….
The MDC National Stadium, the  hockey venue for the New Delhi Common-wealth Games 2010, had not seen an upgrade for nearly three decades. The challenge was that the façade could not be changed because the stadium sits in the Central Vista of New Delhi, at the other end from Rashtrapati Bhavan. There were severe restrictions on the height of the structure. The area of the complex could not be increased but additional facilities had to be incorporated. Thus, light masts were specially designed to fold down when not in use to meet the height restriction criterion. In the original configuration, the non-VIP section was built on an earthen mound. Now, it has been designed to sit on stilts and the space below has been freed. Two levels of underground car parking and two levels of office space have been provided to create a revenue stream for legacy use, to help pay for the upkeep of the stadium. One more field of play with viewing galleries has been added as well as a practice field. The existing swimming pool has been upgraded to a training venue. The new landscaping matches the heritage environment. An overarching concern was the complex’s ‘greenness’ with features like efficient luminaries and appliances like pumps and air-conditioning units, to create an environment-friendly facility that respects heritage.

Tell us more about your rail corridor projects.
We offer services across the spectrum of rail services: inter-city, intra-city, passenger, or freight. In the inter-city segment, services rendered include the detailed design for the Ghaziabad-Aligarh third line; feasibility study for the Mehsana-Patan-Bhildi line in Gujarat; and detailed design of electrification for Nandalur-Guntakal, Andhra Pradesh. We supported the JICA study team in the study for the dedicated freight corridor. We developed the concept of the elevated mass rapid transit system to replace the dysfunctional tram system in Kolkata.  We pared a master plan for Visakhapatnam Metro, detailed designs for stations along Chennai Metro, and reviewed and updated the report on the Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro line in Mumbai, besides expanding the perspective for the Mumbai Metro Seventh Corridor through PPP.

Tell us about your international projects.
Apart from India, CES has worked in more than 30 countries. In the Middle East, some major projects in Oman include the Palace Complex for the Sultan, Taimur Mosque, Sultan Qaboos Islamic Institute, Seeb International Airport, Port Sultan Qaboos, and water supply schemes for Taqa and Sudh. Similarly, CES has completed a host of prestigious infrastructure projects in Bangladesh since 1987. Recently, CES has carried out feasibility studies for the Lower Kokcha Irrigation and Hydro Power Project and Kunar and Kokcha River Hydro Power Development Project in Afghanistan.

How do you cater to urban and regional planning?
Our company has been actively involved in urban and regional planning. Recently, we prepared the integrated multi-modal transport plan for the National Capital Region. We have also prepared development plans for the Visakhapatnam Metro-politan Region and Guwahati Metropolitan Region. We are actively involved in the planning and development of Mumbai Metropolitan Region.  CES recently completed the planning and design of Naya Raipur City as a new capital of Chhattisgarh. We are involved in almost all states in urban and regional planning efforts. But we feel more needs to be done in regional planning.  Homogenous regions are generally inter-state regions and coordination is a major problem. We feel that in the context of globalisation and competition, sheer self-interest will bring different stakeholders together and integrated regional and urban planning and development will receive due attention and importance. 

What do challenges mean to you?
Challenges are what we vaguely discern in the future. Sometimes they also appear to be the by-product of problems at hand. In both situations, there is a certain amount of adventure and excitement. And this is precisely what I, as a technocrat, have been doing over the past 40 years in my company. Being static has never been my cup of tea! Even the failures, and efforts to turn them into successes, have been greatly instrumental in infusing dynamism in me.

What are your plans for the future?
Our growth model is predicated upon meaningful innovations. We will intensify and expand our involvement in infrastructure development to emerging areas like sustainable development, green buildings, nuclear energy, ‘waste-to-wealth’ technologies, distributed power generation systems, energy from renewable sources, natural resource identification and management, environmental management, railway safety systems, and the health services sector. Over the past half decade or so, we have taken successful initiatives to enter the field of infrastructure development as a developer. This has been mainly in the transport and health sectors.

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