ICR Conference applauded by the industry
In his keynote address NA Viswanathan, Secretary General of CMA commended ASAPP Media for offering the much needed platform to discuss areas of concern regarding sustainable production processes. He spoke about the progress made by the industry since the price and distribution control era in 1980s. He said that today the industry is at par with global standards in terms of cement quality, production facilities, technology, fuel efficiency and particulate emission levels. ´The industry has progressively reduced thermal energy consumption from 800-900 K cal/kg of clinker to 650-750 K cal/kg of clinker now. Similarly, power consumption has also dropped to a remarkable extent during the same period,´ he said. He expressed concern over the drop in capacity utilisation from 90 per cent in 2006-07 to less than 70 per cent currently due to lack of infrastructural growth. The country, he said, has an excess of idle capacity of 100 million tonnes, worth around Rs 60,000 crore. However, he was happy to see that the industry is making progress by adopting energy efficient processes and is taking initiatives to improve sustainability.
Philippe Fonta, MD, WBCSD, CSI, too appreciated the efforts made by Indian industry while bringing to attention the need for enhanced water collection, and conservation and treatment processes at the cement plants. Most of the cement plants and the associated colonies are usually located close to the limestone deposits, in arid areas. Hence, such measures are a necessity to make the plants water neutral, he said. He also spoke about improving safety awareness at the cement plants and at times absorbing safety practices from other sectors to accelerate the learning process. Fonta also said that the industry must collaborate to establish a set of standardised parameters for evaluating the sustainability of concrete.
Speaking about encouraging transparency while communicating the efforts made towards sustainability, Sumit Banerjee, former Vice Chairman at Reliance Cement, said that the industry must share a Sustainable Development report with its stakeholders in a standardised format at regular intervals. He said that such reports, when audited by a third party, would increase the accountability of the sector as a whole.He also stressed on the value of communicating the achievements of the cement sector with the common masses. This, he said, will help to clear the incorrect perception of cement production being a polluting process. Banerjee is currently the Elected Member on the Managing Committee at Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He has been involved in the preparation of the CII-AT Kearney study on Cement Vision 2025: Scaling New Heights.
In his welcome note, Pratap Padode, Managing Director, ASAPP Media, stressed on the need to build smart and well-planned cities. He spoke about slowdown in the sector since 2009, primarily due to lack of infrastructure projects and the consequent implications on the cement consumption. Padode also announced the plans of ASAPP Media to organise a Cement EXPO at Nehru Centre, Mumbai on 30-31 October 2014. .
The ICR 2014 conference emphasised on ways to improve production and operational efficiencies and was well appreciated by the participants. The event also had a discussion session between the audience and a panel of experts in the cement industry. The panel consisted of Ashwin Raykundalia, Vice President (Manufacturing and Energy Services); Ajay Hans, Managing Director, Petron Engineering; Jayanta Saha, Managing Director, Penta India Cements and Minerals. The discussion was moderated by Arun Unni, Principal, AT Kearney. The conference provided ample opportunities for networking and the delegates expressed their interest in participating in the forthcoming ICR Cement Expo.