Exclusive Interview with Rakesh Gaur, President-Railway, Kalpataru Power

Vinod Shah Posted on: 2021-03-19 20:47:00 Viewer: 9,571 Comments: 0 Country: India City: Noida

Exclusive Interview with Rakesh Gaur, President-Railway, Kalpataru Power

Mr. Rakesh Gaur is the President and Head of the Railway Division at Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited since March 2019. He is a graduate in Electrical Engineering from MS University, Baroda and Masters in International Business and Administration from Kainar University, Almaty.

Mr. Gaur has rich and speckled global experience in Project Management, Tendering, Engineering, Planning, Procurement, Construction of large values EPC Contracts & Contract Management. Earlier, he had worked with many prestigious organizations in India including L&T, ABB, IRCON, SIEMENS, KEC etc.

In a recent conversation with Urban Transport News, Mr. Gaur shared his thoughts on how Kalpataru Power is achieving its milestones in the global market by innovating and providing quality services in multiple verticals.

How long have you been in the engineering and infrastructure industry? Tell us about your journey in this industry and your current role in Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd. in brief?

I am with the industry for over 30 years now and in these years I have worked in over 100 Indian and International EPC projects in the fields of Power Generation, Transmission & Distribution and Railway Electrification.

Currently, I work as President for Kalpataru Railway Division and I am responsible for Kalpataru Group’s Railway Business globally. We execute Railway Infra projects in all areas of construction and we operate with Indian Railways especially in the domain of Electrification, Signaling and Telecommunication, Traction Sub Stations and Composite Track jobs, track modifications, gauge conversion, major and minor bridges, Station building and associated works like Platform etc.

Please brief our readers about the role and presence of your company in India and abroad. 

Kalpataru  Power  Transmission  Limited (KPTL) is a part of the Kalpataru Group established in 1969 and is over 1 Billion $ turnover company. KPTL is amongst the industry’s largest players firmly entrenched in the global power transmission and Railway infrastructure EPC space. With proven experience and expertise spanning over five decades, KPTL today has established its footprints in over 55 countries. KPTL offers complete solutions covering design, testing, fabrication, erection and construction of transmission lines, water, oil and gas infrastructure as well as Railway projects on a turnkey basis.

How many projects is the company currently executing in Rail & Metro sectors in India?

KPTL is currently executing over 30 projects in the Railway Infrastructure sector and currently, our     Railways project portfolio is in excess of  4,500 kilometres, valued at over USD 1 billion.

Has your company's business been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?  How did you tackle your business during the countrywide Covid-19 lockdown? 

Post the lockdown announced in March’20, every company had a setback in the first quarter because of uncertainty and anxiety over labor movement and complete lockdown of the system.

But, from June onwards, we have recovered well. We introduced work from home on a need basis and Flexi working hours for our employees during the lockdown. We ensured proper sanitization of the workplaces, project sites, base camps, vehicles and provided PPE kits and protective equipment.

What are the major hurdles you see in urban railways, and other transportation sectors in India when it comes to major infrastructure projects compared to other global countries? What are the lessons to be learned?

The major hurdle in the urban railways and other transportation sectors in India is Cash Flows. The availability of cash is limited, Capex orientation is getting changed and the pace of execution is also becoming a major challenge because we have to meet the targets but there is the shortage of manpower, challenges in logistics, manpower movement and therefore the pace of execution is a major cause of concern. The rising commodity prices, land acquisition, and clearances also become difficult at times.

Effective cash flow management, optimization of working capital and labor productivity improvements are some of the lessons that the companies could learn from past experiences. Mechanization is one area that could help improve productivity levels and fasten the pace of execution.

What is your take on the land acquisition issue in India? What part has it played in preventing private investment in the urban mobility industry?

Land acquisition is one of the main reasons affecting the implementation of Infra projects in India. Private players are not equipped to handle this co-ordination and due to inordinate systemic delays, the investors are not showing much enthusiasm in PPP projects.

How do you view the Indian government’s ambition to create Metros, RRTS and High-Speed Rail Networks in the country?

The expansion of Urban Infra is no more a luxury, it has become a necessity. The Government has identified 8 RRTS corridors in the NCR region and out of these 8, three sections have been approved for Phase 1 up to 2025. At the same time, the focus is also there on expanding the metro networks all over India. In the budget ’21 also, the Hon'ble Finance Minister has proposed to deploy Metro Lite and Metro Neo technologies to provide metro rail systems in tier two cities and the peripheral areas of tier-one cities, at much lesser costs. A total of 702 km of the conventional metro is operational and another 1,016 km of metro and RRTS is under construction in 27 cities.

The Government has provided support to five Metro projects, which include Kochi Metro Phase-II, Chennai Metro Railway Phase-II, Bengaluru Metro Railway Project Phase 2A and 2B , Nagpur Metro Rail Project Phase-II and Nashik Metro Neo.

This shows governments' clear intentions and focuses on the development of modern transport infrastructure in the country.

Does Kalpataru contribute to the Government of India’s some popular initiatives i.e. Smart Cities Mission, Make in India, Aatmnirbhar Bharat etc.? Kindly highlights some example projects?

Yes, KPTL is contributing in a very big way to the GoI’s initiatives. We are working towards the Government’s mission of 100% Railway Electrification by December 2023. We are changing the face of Railway Infrastructure in India. The state of art platforms, station buildings, passenger amenities, which are being constructed by KPTL are a big boost to the government’s station redevelopment drive for providing the best possible passenger amenities.

Last year you won the "Rail Business Leader of the Year Award" at the Rail Infra and Mobility Business Digital Awards 2020. What did you feel when you knew about your selection for the global award?

That award is dedicated to the efforts of our team who have worked tirelessly to deliver astounding results. It always feels good when your hard work and your efforts are recognized and that too in a global platform. Such recognition further motivates the team to walk the extra mile and reach greater heights.

What are your thoughts on the Union Budget 2021 especially on the provisions made for the Railways & Transportation sectors?

In Budget’21, a substantial increase in budgetary support as well as capital expenditure through EBR, reconfirms the government commitment to transforming the infrastructure of National Transporter.

The focus is on improving infrastructures by 100 % Railway Electrification by Dec 2023 as well as a major focus on Urban Infra by supporting metro projects in Kochi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Nagpur and Nashik.

High focus on safety by introducing the Automatic train Protection system on High Density and Highly Utilized Networks will upgrade the systems as well as facilities to provide immense opportunities to the Infrastructure sector.

We also hope this will create a lot of jobs in the construction industry for the youth.

What are your views on the contents we cover in Urban Transport News publications i.e. online news portal and bimonthly magazine?

The content covered is explicit and the articles are very well researched. It provides in-depth information on the industry and helps us remain abreast with the developments happening in and around the Railway and Infra Sector.

Anything else you want to tell our readers.

As we are nearing the end of this financial year, I hope the next financial year to be a turnaround year not only for the economy but also for the Railway Industry in terms of the pace of execution. With the ongoing vaccination drive, we will be able to minimize the effect of COVID-19 on our day-to-day productivity. I urge all the readers to stay safe and stay happy. Cheers..!!

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