Interview with Raghavendra Mirji, Senior Vice-President and Head, Power Infra, Renewable Energy & Busduct Business,Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd

“We have plans to expand our transmission business”

Raghavendra Mirji, Senior Vice-President and Head, Power Infra, Renewable Energy & Busduct Business, Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd

What are Godrej and Boyce’s offerings and solutions for the Indian power market?

At Godrej & Boyce, we successfully diversified into the power transmission and distribution (T&D) sector more than a decade ago. We offer diversified services in the power infrastructure space, which includes executing large-scale projects in transmission, distribution and power substations on a turnkey basis. We have also entered the renewable energy space and offer end–to-end solutions for both rooftop and ground-mounted solar projects. We work with almost all the major power utility companies, the central and state governments, and operate pan India. We are more focused on EHV transmission and MW-scale solar projects, and have developed the capabilities to deliver complex and large transmission and substation projects. We have developed in-house design and engineering capabilities up to 765 kV. We have offered engineering solutions to many complex projects that have helped in not only saving costs, but also in reducing the execution time. As an EPC company, we have developed a robust project management process to deliver projects on time. We have leveraged IT tools to exercise better control and get clear visibility.

What are some of the company’s notable projects executed in India?

We commenced our journey with power distribution projects initially. We are proud to be associated with rural electrification projects under government schemes such as the RGGVY, DDUGJY, SAUBHAGYA and R-APDRP. We have established power infrastructure in around 20,000 villages and electrified around 1.6 million households across seven states. We have executed large value distribution projects with a single project value of around Rs 4 billion.

In the transmission sector, we undertake large-scale turnkey projects in the EHV segment, which entail the construction of transmission lines and substations (both AIS and GIS) up to 400 kV. We have successfully completed many EHV projects for PGCIL, GETCO, APTRANSCO, TSTRANSCO, WBSETCL, KPTCL, BHEL, etc. We have also commissioned power transformers up to 500 MVA of capacity. We have a good order pipeline and are executing many 220 kV and 400 kV greenfield projects in Delhi, Bihar, Telangana, Karnataka, and north-eastern states.

In the solar sector, we have executed many iconic projects, both in the rooftop and ground-mounted segments.

What are the key issues in project execution?

Project execution in the power infrastructure space is quite challenging. Besides high standards of safety protocols that need to be complied with, we have to work in tough terrain, extreme climate conditions and challenging territories. Other challenges are:

  • Lack of skilled workforce and competent sub-contractors:
  • Delays in getting land allotment, timely drawing approvals and work front availability:
  • Delays in obtaining right-of-way (ROW) clearances, and permissions for highway/railway/river crossings
  • Challenges in managing the working capital and cashflow

Going forward, major reforms are needed in the power sector to address these challenges. Initiatives like organised skill development centres in every state, proactive steps like securing land prior to the tendering, standardising specifications, automating the approval process and an improved payment structure can bring effectiveness in project execution.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your operations?

The impact of Covid was huge across the globe and we have witnessed severe negative growth in GDP. Our business was no different to this. Revenue for financial year 2020-21 was largely impacted due to the lockdown situation as project progress slowed down significantly. The inflow of new tenders also declined due to both the lockdown and budgetary constraints.

Although the lockdown restrictions were relaxed for power projects, we could not run the project sites at full strength due to reverse migration of the workforce. Apart from the labour issue, the entire supply chain was impacted due to the pandemic.

What are the company’s growth plans?

As part of our strategic business plan, we have set an ambitious target of reaching 15 billion revenues in the T&D business by 2024. We have plans to expand our business in the transmission segment, mainly focusing on EHV substation projects up to 765 kV. We are also entering the railways segment with an aim to achieve good growth in this sector. Apart from government tenders, we are focusing on opportunities with private entities as well. We have plans to enter the overseas market. At present, we are focusing on SAARC countries and aim to expand to other countries at a later stage.

Riding on the trend of growing renewable energy capacity, we have aligned our business portfolio in the solar EPC space. We have big plans to participate in MW-scale ground-mounted projects.

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