Filling India’s infrastructure gaps with Russian partners

Filling India’s infrastructure gaps with Russian partners

Thursday, 25 April 2013 08:27

Sridhar Cherukuri, CEO, Transstroy (India) Ltd speaks to RIR on the history of the company, its joint projects with Russia and conflicts with environmentalists over the construction of a major dam.

 The Chagallu Barrage in Ananthapur, Andhra Pradesh. The project involved construction of a 40-meter high long earth dam with 25-meter high spillway. Source: Phalguna Hari

 Few other reasons scare away foreign investors from India’s booming economy than the country’s poor infrastructure. The Indian government though has taken note of the complaints and is looking at spending close to $1 trillion on infrastructural projects. To partly fill the gap, an Indian associate of Russia’s Transstroy is working with Russian partners on major infrastructure projects.

Mr. Sridhar Cherukuri, Chairman, Managing Director and CEO, Transstroy (India) Limited. Source: Phalguna Hari

“We are more comfortable with Russian partners and the expertise they provide us in executing various projects, says Sridhar Cherukuri, CEO and Managing Director of Transstroy (India) Ltd. “In our view and in practice, the services of Russian companies are comparatively cost effective than U.S. or Chinese companies.” Transstroy (India) is leading an Indo-Russian consortium that is conducting work on the Polavaram or Indian Sagar, a mega-dam project in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The consortium of Transstroy-JSC EC UES was selected in October as the contractor to build the three main components of the $3 billion project. The components are a rock-fill-cum-earthen dam, spillway and penstocks for a 960-megawatt powerhouse.

The Polavaram project is a multi-purpose irrigation project that envisages the construction of a dam across the Godavari River, link the Krishna and Godavari rivers, and develop a vast irrigation system that would cover 15 out of 23 districts in Andhra Pradesh.

The Godavari River basin has a surplus of water, while the Krishna River basin has a deficit. India often faces a simultaneous problem of floods in one part of the country and drought in another. But environmentalists in India have raised objections to the project, which they argue could inundate several villages in Andhra Pradesh and the neighbouring state of Orissa.

The Sri Komaram Bheem Project in Adilabad District of Andhra Pradesh that the company executed. Source: Phalguna Hari

Asked about the environmentalists’ claims, Cherukuri highlights the benefits of the project for the agrarian economy of Andhra Pradesh and says the concerns of the neighbouring states would definitely be addressed. Before giving permissions for the construction of the project, the Government of India was aware of the problems and the solutions that need to be taken, he says. Cherukuri adds that the company has all the necessary environmental clearances to go ahead with the project. Over the last ten years, the India’s Environment Ministry has been strict in issuing clearances.

Filling India’s infrastructure gap

Cherukuri says Transstroy (India) Ltd is one of the fastest growing infrastructure and construction companies in India. The company was incorporated in 2001 and operates from its corporate office located in Hyderabad. Starting with projects in the irrigation and road sectors, the company gradually diversified to hydropower, metro rail and port sectors. Apart from Andhra Pradesh, Transstroy is also executing projects in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh.

Mr. Sridhar Cherukuri presenting a memento to the Chief Minister Shri. Shivraj Singh Chauhan after the inauguration of the four-lane Bhopal By-pass project. Source: Phalguna Hari

Since inception, the motto has always been to reduce the lead time to begin work so that there is no delay in executing the project, Cherukuri says. This approach by the company helped us complete the Bhopal by-pass project three months before schedule; a feat that was appreciated by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.

Transstroy (India) has also worked with Russian partners on the construction of the Outer Ring Road of Hyderabad but when it comes to Indo-Russian cooperation, the Polavaram project is the biggest joint venture project outside the defence sector. Cherukuri says the company is currently working only with Russian companies and does not have other international partners in their infrastructural projects. Cherukuri, however, adds that the company would be interested in participating in developing potential infrastructure projects in Russia as well.

A wide portfolio

Transstroy (India) is currently executing 15 highway projects in India, including nine awarded by the National Highway Authority of India, three from the Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation and two by the Andhra Pradesh authorities.

 Apart from the road projects, the company is also executing two irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh, one major hydro power project in Assam, one 400 MW gas-based power project in Andhra Pradesh and three port projects in Tamil Nadu. 

Transstroy (India) is handling orders to the tune of $3.8 billion in infrastructure projects at the moment, Cherukuri says.

April 20, 2013 Elena Krovvidi, RIR

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