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Constructing masterpieces

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

DR. J.R. GANGARAMANI, Chairman - Al Fara’s Group

Dr. Gangaramani founded Al Fara'a General Contracting Company, which has since evolved into Al Fara'a Integrated Construction Group. He has been conferred the 'Padma Shri award' by the Govt. of India for his distinguished achievements in the construction sector and pivotal role in improving India - UAE relations. He was also awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA), which is the highest honour conferred on Indians living abroad. After completing his engineering degree at Mumbai University, Dr. Gangaramani went to UAE in 1974 and started his career as a project engineer at the Dubai World Trade Centre. In conversation with Dominic Rebello, Dr. Gangaramani says his personal motto is “Service to make others happy and put a smile on their faces.”

How would you describe the industry at the time when you  entered the business?
Al Fara’a was setup during 1980s whereby the construction industry was one of the toughest industry to establish owing to the lack of proper infrastructure facilities and technological advancements. During this period one of the biggest challenges were mobilization of manpower and logistics support for transportation of material. However, with the passage of time and introduction of mechanized equipment and also with the advent of technology, construction industry has improved by leaps and bounds.
Which is the biggest technological innovation since you started that has bettered construction?
The time we entered into the construction industry till now, I had personally experienced numerous technological innovations which had greatly contributed and changed the face of construction industry the way we had dealt at our times. Out of the many innovations I can proudly can say that Alfara’a Group had widely contributed to the field of Concrete Technology in GCC region through its associate company namely “UNITBETON READY MIX” since its inception during the year 1988. UNIBETON is recognized as the leading innovator in the field of Self compacting low carbon emission (green concrete), light weight- high strength, lean and insulated concrete with its computerized Mix Design Management and Control Systems (e-mix), proven waste management system with most modern water treatment plants.
When approaching a new project, what key factors do you consider?
The approach to any new project is shaped by the strategic plan of an organization, which is influenced by market demands and resources constraints.

The process associated with planning and feasibility studies sets the priorities and timing for approaching various new projects to meet the overall objectives of the organizations. However, once this decision is made to start a project, market pressure may dictate early and timely completion.
What is the one change you wish to witness in the industry?
The construction industry is the second largest industry of the country after agriculture. It makes a significant contribution to the national economy and provides employment to large number of people. The use of various new technologies and deployment of project management strategies has made it possible to undertake projects of mega scale. In its path of advancement, the industry has to overcome a number of challenges. However, the industry is still faced with some major challenges, including housing, disaster resistant construction, water management and mass transportation.

Recent experiences of several new mega-projects are clear indicators that the industry is poised for a bright future. On the technological front, the picture is abysmally low. The country has not invested adequately into making technical human resources capable of addressing the professional services needs of the construction industry like litigation, training of artisans, cost indices, contracting, insurance, finance, banking and taxation. On the engineering design front, the college education of the practicing engineers has not been adequately augmented from time to time with in-house or distance education modules.

Thus, senior engineers are often found oblivious of new technologies and tools. As a consequence, the country is faced with adire need for qualified technical manpower. However, as a part of Corporate Social Responsibility initiative we are in the process of establishing a Construction Skill Development Centre in Maharashtra State and are planning to train a large number of candidates in various construction trades.

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