The festival, organised by FIRST Construction Council, in New Delhi from October 24-25, successfully brought together the government and the private sector to chart a forward path for India's construction and infrastructure agenda.
It all began 10-11 months ago, when infrastructure think tank FIRST Construction Council approached the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India. The council's premise was loud and clear: A $170-billion opportunity is moving to Asia and India stands poised to capitalise on it with its engineering talent pool, software capabilities, infrastructure, and the ability to scale up the value chain. The need of the hour was equally clear: A much simpler environment for companies to set up their base and operate in India. What began as a discussion, evolved into a blockbuster event in New Delhi - the India Construction Festival 2018 (ICF 2018).
Indeed, the festival celebrated opportunities, recognised excellence and brought the gamut of the global and national building, construction and infrastructure fraternity together. Held in association with the world's oldest and largest circulated New York-based ENGINEERING NEWS-RECORD (ENR) magazine, the event was supported by the Ministry of Commerce, and Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, graced the event as Chief Guest. Other supporters of the event included the Engineering Export Promotion Council, US India Business Council, Builder Association of India and National Highway Builder Federation.
Day 1 started with the India Roads Conference, followed by the 16th CONSTRUCTION WORLD Global Awards, while Day 2 kicked off with the CONSTRUCTION WORLD
Summit and concluded with the 6th Annual Equipment India Awards. And, there was much more to the two-day construction carnival. FIRST Construction Council launched its first ever exclusive report on the failure of TMT rebars; Suresh Prabhu launched the CONSTRUCTION WORLD and INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY Anniversary Editions; Graham Robbinson, Economist and Executive Director, Global Perspectives, spoke on 'Construction Trends 2030' and the critical role India has to play; and there was an exclusive project presentation on the Statue of Unity, the world's tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel being unveiled by the Prime Minister.
Welcoming an audience of over 700 at the festival, Pratap Padode, Founder & President, FIRST Construction Council, said: 'Haphazard growth has cost us dearly and the investments we are really talking about are humongous. There is no point in wasting them and realising five years down the line what we should have done otherwise. Be it design, building material or engineering, it is better to deliberate, plan, design, and then do what we need to do.'
In her address, Janice Tuchman, Editor-in-Chief, ENR, said, 'It is amazing to see you all (the audience) out there and have this great brain thrust coming to talk about construction. I am excited to be collaborating with FIRST Construction Council and its aim to introduce some of the best practices in the construction sector in India.'
For his part, Scott Seltz, Publisher, ENR, said, 'We are honoured to be here and support the India Construction Festival 2018. Our mission at ENR is to be the resource for the engineering and construction industries by providing our services to engineering and construction professionals like you. Being our first visit to India, we have seen the country's rich history of engineering and building wonders. In years to come, India will create and produce infrastructure projects that will have a tremendous impact on its culture, economy and society.'
Across the board, industry sentiments were more positive than ever and there was a palpable emotion: Hope. Held amid an august gathering of top government officials, policymakers and regulators, captains of the construction industry as well as analysts and finance bigwigs from India and business delegations from overseas, ICF was the perfect networking ground for the who's who of the construction fraternity.
Reality Check: Quality of TMT Rebars
While addressing the vast gathering at the India Construction Festival, Pratap Padode, Founder & President, FIRST Construction Council, launched the council's exclusive first-of-its-kind study and analysis on TMT rebars. Sixty-six TMT rebar samples manufactured by 26 brands were sent to be tested for impurities. The results were alarming: Over 50 per cent of TMT rebars advertised on national TV failed the test as they were inferior and will invite structural damage earlier than later. 'The test result indicates that if 70 per cent of the material getting into roads and building construction is of inferior quality, our future is definitely at stake,' said Padode.
Considering the current focus and opportunity
in India's infra plan, this begs the question:
Is the country's Rs 5.7 trillion infrastructure at risk? Download the full report from www.firstconstructioncouncil.com/report.php)
'The construction industry will demand quality infrastructure with least cost and time.'
- Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, GoI 'The Indian economy, which is the fastest growing economy, is marching towards higher and better growth. A glimpse of the near future promises the possibility of anything and everything with the help of new technology, with least investment and people benefitting from it at large.
The growth of the country's economy lies in infrastructure projects, such as providing houses, building roads, laying new tracks, etc. Therefore, the construction sector will be playing an important role in India's growing economy. Despite the availability of technology, all construction projects are labour-intensive; hence, they will generate huge employment opportunities throughout the country.
In days to come, one will observe that quality infrastructure, constructing projects with the least time and cost and best quality, will be the new demand of the construction industry. In that context, I congratulate Pratap Padode for bringing us under one roof and deliberating upon many issues related to the growth of this industry. In days to come, this will help the growth of the industry in an organised manner, where key inputs will come from the industry itself.
I am glad that this particular conclave took place and I look forward to all of you succeeding in your business endeavours and making Indian infrastructure better.'
'Andhra Pradesh plans to be India's topmost investment destination by 2050.'
- Bhavna Saxena, Special Commissioner, Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board
'The focus is to transform the state into a happy, inclusive and innovation-driven society. The current growth rate of Andhra Pradesh is 11.22 per cent, which is far ahead of the national average of 7.52 per cent. We have consistently been moving up on the growth chart. Therefore, there is economic stability in the state.
There is 10 per cent growth equally across the agricultural, manufacturing and services sectors, generating balanced economic development and integration of policies. Besides, there is a targetted increase in urbanisation - from 35 per cent to 50 per cent in the coming years, which is of interest to the construction industry. Andhra Pradesh has been ranked No. 1 in ease of doing business by the World Bank as well as the Government of India two years in a row. All approvals take place within 21 days; this is the bedrock of the investment-friendliness of the state. To date, 31,423 have been granted; in the past six months, compliance was 99 per cent and in the past two months, it was 100 per cent.
In Amaravati, we have real-time governance and a command centre, where all department updates and approvals are done on a real-time basis; this is monitored by the chief minister. This shows a high level of accountability.
Andhra Pradesh plans to be the topmost investment destination in the country by 2050. The vision document has been approved and plans are in place. The opportunities in the coming years will be the greenfield city of Amaravati, the Polavaram project, six new proposed airports and eight new proposed ports.'