INFRACON 2019, the first international academic conference on Infrastructure Development kick-started with Dr. Pratima Sheorey, Director SCMHRD delivering a welcome note to the honoured guests from the University of Wolverhampton, dignitaries from PADECO International, Chairman & MD of RITES Mr. Rajeev Mehrotra, Mr. Chandrasekhar Ganduri from PWC (an alumnus of SCMHRD, batch of 2004), staff & students of SCMHRD. This was part of the pre-conference “Industry-Academia Consortium” to understand the practicalities about the future of infrastructure in developing economies like India.
The inaugural ceremony commenced with the guests being honoured with eco-friendly tokens of appreciation and pots of plants being watered in order to establish our aim of reducing the carbon footprint in whatever ways we can. Dr. Pratima Sheorey and Ms. Vasundhra Sen then set the context for INFRACON 2019.
The Chairman & MD of RITES, Mr. Rajeev Mehrotra who has expertise in Power Finance and has over 25 years of experience, was the Chief Guest of INFRACON 2019. He started off on an electrifying note on the topic- Delivering Future Infrastructure for Developing Countries in which Mr. Mehrotra spoke about the importance of proper infrastructure, its linkage to different parameters for a country’s growth and different industries. He also gave the audience an insight into the current projects in India such as Integrated Check Posts, Successful PPP models, Dedicated Freight Corridor & Bharatmala etc. He then shifted the audience’s focus on the need of Sovereign Bonds, Asset Monetization, Asset Recycling and Disinvestment in India. In the end he showed the way forward for India which included Housing for all and Electric Vehicles and also conveyed that the challenge of financing infrastructure is somewhat sorted and the appetite for PPP in India is high. The room was then open for questions and the students and faculty of SCMHRD gained interesting insights from Mr. Mehrotra answers to their questions.
Next to take the podium was Mr. Chandrasekhar Ganduri who spoke on the financial stress in Indian Infrastructure. He made the audience aware of the key infrastructure sectors and issues in the power generation sector. He gave a wonderful insight into the reasons for stress such as Commodity Prices (Coal and gas), disputes with Discoms (PPA, Tariffs, and Capital Costs), Corporate Governance, Competition/Rivalry, Lack of Diligence, Financing Issues and Regulatory Issues. In the end he spoke about the optimal conditions for infrastructure development and then answered the questions raised by the students of MBA (Infrastructure Development and Management) students of SCMHRD.
Ms. Pallavi Kulkarni and Mr. Amit Agarwal then took the stage and gave a beautiful insight into the plans of integrating new public transportation and existing ones in the city of Mumbai. They gave many examples and showed the audience with many infographics how PADECO and students of SCMHRD who interned there worked tirelessly on this integration in the city of Mumbai. The floor was then open to questions and the inaugural ceremony came to an end followed by lunch.
The last session was a panel discussion of experts moderated by Dr. Rahul Hiremath of SCMHRD. The discussants were Dr. Ruta Kattumuri of London School of Economics, Dr. Panos Georgakis & Dr. Amit Kaushik from the University of Wolverhampton and Mr. Vivek Date from SCMHRD. There was an involving discussion on “Ease of Living” in developing economies. Some of the key issues that were discussed included-the impact of the information economy, the Sustainable development goals (SDGs) outlined, various government initiatives to enable ease of living and participation of the citizenry in the same.