INFRACON 2019, the first international academic conference on Infrastructure Development kick-started with Ms. Vasundhra Sen delivering a welcome note to the honoured guests from the University of Wolverhampton, dignitaries from PADECO International, Director of RITES Mr. Rajeev Mehrotra, Mr. Chandrasekhar Gandori from PWC who is also an alumnus of SCMHRD from batch of 2004, Director of SCMHRD Dr. Pratima Sheorey, staff & students of SCMHRD. 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 carbon footprint in whatever ways we can. Dr. Pratima Sheorey and Ms. Vasundhra Sen then set the context for INFRACON 2019. The Director of RITES, Mr. Rajeev Mehrotra who has an 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. Rajeev 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 need of Sovereign Bonds, Asset Monetization, Asset Recycling and Disinvestment in India. Later 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 well digested. The room was then open for questions and the students and faculty of SCMHRD gained interesting insights from Mr. Rajeev’s answers to their questions. Next to take the podium was Mr. Chandrasekhar Gandori who spoke on the financial stress in Indian Infrastructure, made the audience aware of the key infrastructure sectors, issues in 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 exceptionally the questions raised by the students of IDM batch 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 in Padeco 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.
Stressing on the need for capable and professional managers, Satish Magar, the National President of Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI), congratulated the Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development (SCMHRD) for introducing a course for such personnel. The Institute is located at the Hinjawadi IT Park in Pune. He was speaking after inaugurating an International Conference on ‘Delivering Future Infrastructure for Developing Countries’, which was based on the theme Driving Change for the Future. The event brought together a remarkable number of researchers, practitioners and policymakers from the field of infrastructure financing, planning, design, construction and asset management with a special focus on developing countries. Emphasising that management of infrastructure is highly important, Mr. Magar pointed out that currently stress is being given only on the creation of infrastructure. However, if not managed properly, this very infrastructure can pose a problem in the future. Therefore there was a need to create well-trained professionals, who will help to sustain this smart and futuristic infrastructure. Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor, Symbiosis International (Deemed University), highlighted the role being played by SCMHRD in creating highly educated, trained and capable manpower to guide the country towards a bright future. She stressed that students of today should be able to find solutions to the problems being faced by society today. The inaugural session witnessed key-note speeches delivered by Dr Ruth Kattumuri, Co-Director, Asia Research Centre, London School of Economics; Dr P Balachandra, Principal Research Scientist, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru; and Dr Bhimaraya Metri, Director, Indian Institute of Management, Tiruchirapalli. Dr Rajani Gupte, Vice-Chancellor, Symbiosis International (Deemed University) also addressed the gathering. Delivering the welcome address, Dr Pratima Shenoy, Director SCMHRD, informed that the conference has evoked an overwhelming response as participants have arrived from all over the world including countries like the US, UK, Bangladesh and also from premium institutions like IITs and IIMs. Over the next two days, participants will be presenting academic research papers, she said. The session concluded with a vote of thanks proposed by Dr Netra Neelam, Deputy Director, SCMHRD.