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Enabling Public Transportation in India

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S P S Bakshi
Chairman-cum-Managing Director,
Engineering Projects (India) Ltd

“The biggest advantage of the mono-rail project is that it can go to the arteries of the city. This enables maximum number of people to leave behind their personal vehicles and start using public transportation. Thus with mono-rail system in place, there will be much less congestion on the roads,”

Engineering Projects (India) Ltd (EPI) has been consistently improving its performance. What is your vision for bringing more growth to the company?
The main factor contributing to the success of EPI in the execution of successful projects in India and overseas is our talented human resource. The company strength lies in its very talented and experi- enced professionals who are always motivated by the desire of giving their best performance. The infrastructure boom that we are currently seeing in India and many of our overseas markets is expected to continue during the next two or three decades. So the mandate of EPI would be to play a major role in the infrastructure space in India and also in the overseas market. I believe that EPI and other public sector units can play a very major role in the development of infrastructure for bringing seminal improvements in the lives of our people. If we don’t have developed infrastructure, we can’t expect all round development of the country. For the last three years at EPI we are doing very hard work in the infrastructure front. We are doing our best to diversify into many new areas not just in India, but in overseas markets as well. We are making aggressive moves to take advantage of the infrastructure boom happening in Africa, SAARC and GCC countries.

Can you tell us about the kind of infrastructure projects that you would be mostly interested in?
We are basically interested in the technology projects. We are currently eying projects that have to do with modernisation and construction of steel plants. Modernisation and construction of power plants and cement plants is also something we are interested in. Another area that is of interest to us is the multi-modal transportation systems. We have already drawn a MoU with a reputed Malaysian company, which has a wide experience in executing multi-modal transportation projects. There are lots of technolo- gies that we are yet to develop within the country. For instance, we have very little experience in the mono-rail system. So our MoU with the Malaysian company is in tune with the technologies that go into the mono-rail project.

We already have the metro system in Delhi. How will mono-rail project fit into the metro system?
You will appreciate the fact that the roads in Delhi and in many other cities in India are completely saturated with traffic. And the thing is that our traffic continues to grow day by day. Up to what extent can you expand the roads, it is very difficult. Unless people start using the Public Transportation System, we will not be able to manage our traffic. The mono-rail project is just one way of inspiring a larger section of the population to start using public transport. We can take inspiration from countries like Japan, a highly developed country, where there is hardly any congestion on the roads. Majority of the population in the country is only using Public Transportation Systems. In Delhi also the government has done a wonderful thing by creating the Delhi Metro. This has brought some kind of easing to the traffic problem, but much more needs to be done. Until and unless you go into the arteries of the city, you will not be able to enable maximum number of people to start using public transportation. What people want is a system of transportation that takes them from one point to their final destination. The metro cannot go everywhere in the city, as it requires lot of space to lay the tracks and other infrastructure. However, the mono-rail system can go even in the most congested areas. In fact, Delhi government has already started planning for the mono-rail project. We have submitted a plan to the government that envisages integration between the metro rail and mono rail projects. The mono-rail system can act as a feeder service to the Delhi Metro.

In your opinion what are the routes where the mono-rail system in Delhi can be set up?
The actual routes where the mono-rail system can be set up are yet to be identified. But we are now planning to submit a plan for having the mono-rail in the entire Ring Road in Delhi. At the spots where the mono-rail crosses the Delhi Metro, the two services can be integrated, enabling people to transfer from one to the other.

What kind of role will EPI be playing in this mono-rail project?
We would like to be part of the entire project. We can construct the mono-rail system and we would also like to do the work on parking and the other infrastructure. Basically, we would like to implement all the structural work that goes with the mono-rail project. However, I would also like to point out that the project means a lot not only to us but to the entire nation. Whether the Delhi government chooses us or someone else to execute the project is not that important. What is important is that Delhi should have its own mono-rail system of transportation, which will surely benefit large number of commuters.

What can be the approximate budget of the mono-rail system?
The approximate budget for the mono-rail system is around `150 to 160 crore per kilometre. So the cost is approximately 50 percent of what it costs to have a metro project. The mono-rail is a very efficient system of transportation. It can be set up into a narrow corridor of just 5 to 6 metres. It can go into the arteries of the city, climb over inclines and take sharp turns. It is completely noiseless as it can run on rubberised beams. EPI has been very active in the overseas market.

What are your strategies for bringing further growth in the overseas market?
We are involved in many prestigious overseas projects, which are related to infrastructure space. However, I must say that the growth in overseas market is also linked to availability of information. The public sector units like EPI have to know about the good projects so that they can bid for them. I have suggested at very high levels in the government that there should be a portal where all the foreign embassies can post the projects that are coming up in their nation. This will allow Indian companies to post their competitive bids for the projects and expand their reach into overseas economies.

If you were asked to identify one major advantage that India enjoys over other countries, what would that be?
I would say that the biggest advantage for our country is our human resource. In human resource lies our biggest strength as a nation. In fact, recently when Rahul Gandhi had gone to Punjab, where he addressed a large group of youngsters, he said that in Saudi Arabia, their strength is Black Gold, which is crude, whereas in our country it is the young population, or the human resource that is our biggest strength. I am in total agreement with what Rahul Gandhi has said. In EPI, for example, we have the best technocrats, the best professionals. The kind of hardworking professionals that are available with us are not available elsewhere in the world.
Our people are our strength and we have to provide them with best training so that they can execute world-class projects. There was a time when India was known only as a country from where lots of people were migrating to other countries for doing labour class jobs. But now things have changed. Now we are exporting IT and the people who out of the country are highly trained professionals.

In the infrastructure space, India does not seem to enjoy a very good reputation in the overseas markets. Yet EPI has been able to build a reputation for itself. How?
Simply good governance and transparency in our operations have earned us great amount of respect amongst overseas clients. Ultimately the respect that you get is based on the successful execution of your projects. We have gathered the experience, expertise and the ability to execute many successful projects. We are constantly building on our success. Every project, big or small, is dear to us and we try our best to execute it with perfection.

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