'Extreme engineering will be key area'
— Ajit B. Kulkarni, Managing Director, Pratibha
Pratibha Industries Ltd, the flagship company of Pratibha
Group, is emerging as a leading infrastructure player after a humble beginning
in 1982 with water management schemes. Ajit B. Kulkarni spoke to
Lalitha Rao on the company's ongoing projects and issues affecting
infrastructure developers in India.
What is Pratibha Group's core competence?
Water management has been our thrust area since the group's inception in 1982.
Over the decades, we have developed great expertise and have carved a niche in
the segment. Despite our diversification, water management has been contributing
significantly to both the top line and bottom line of the company. We have
several projects in this segment, spread nationwide, including far-flung areas
like Jammu & Kashmir.
On hand, we have a major water management project being executed for Navi Mumbai
Municipal Corporation. As of now, over 70 per cent of the Rs 200-crore project
An integrated water management project at Nagaur in Rajasthan is under
execution. This is a major project costing Rs 350 crore. Two projects, at Indore
and Jabalpur, in Madhya Pradesh are also under construction. Earlier this year,
we won a Rs 54-crore order from Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai for
construction of a 900 mld (million litres per day) water pumping station at
Bhandup. To be completed within 30 months, the project aims at flood mitigation
by flushing out storm (rain) water.
Besides integrated water management projects, we are keen to enter the
Name some large infrastructure projects currently on hand.
Currently, we are executing many projects in various infrastructure sectors.
Airport projects for Airports Authority of India in Ahmedabad and Amritsar have
been recent achievements. These projects are part of India's plans of upgrading
35 non-metro airports spread nationwide. Two tunnelling projects for
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation are also amongst major
projects on hand. In the road sector we are executing some in Indore in Madhya
Pradesh and Thane in Maharashtra.
What about commercial and housing real estate projects?
In the urban infrastructure sector, we are constructing a mall for Nirmal
Lifestyle in Mulund, Mumbai. In Mumbai itself, we are also building four
45-storey towers called Vijay Imperials for Wadhwa Builders at Goregaon and a
41-storey tower that we are constructing for Sun Shine Builders at Dadar, apart
from a large office building at Kalina.
Do you largely cater to government projects?
Yes. Barring a couple of civil construction projects won from private sector
companies, we operate mainly in projects awarded by the government or government
agencies. With India's continued thrust for urban infrastructure development,
Pratibha is also involved in projects funded under the Jawaharlal Nehru National
Urban Renewal Mission.
What is your view on escalation of input costs during project implementation?
Cost escalation is inevitable. There has been a sharp rise in input costs like
cement and steel, among others. However, all major projects that we execute are
covered with a cost escalation clause.
Pratibha Group had planned to diversify into hydropower. What is the current
Pratibha Group has planned to enter the hydropower sector, diversifying from our
main areas like water management, roads and bridges, and urban development.
However, no major steps to this effect have yet been taken.
Apart from the diversification, we are now focusing more in specialised
infrastructure projects and extreme engineering such as tunnel construction etc.
This is over and above our ongoing effort to retain our competitive edge in the
water management space.
What is your view on forming joint ventures for executing large projects?
What are the challenges faced during project implementation?
We are open to forming joint ventures. It allows us and our partners to reach
bigger levels by sharing the risks. Besides, it gives us access to better,
efficient and cost-saving technology, apart from helping us meet qualification
norms. Speaking of challenges, every project has them. It is all part and parcel
of the game.
How do you see the role of government?
For major projects, government assistance and facilitation is critical. I am
happy to say that government support has been forthcoming and has helped in
creating phenomenal growth of the projects business in India.
[May 19-25, 2008]