Cement And Steel Prices Are Already Softening: Dr. Manjunatha LR

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15 eminent engineers who have decades of significant contributions in the field of concrete constructions and innovations in building design are awarded ICI’s Eminent Engineers Award.

“It is part of ICI’s culture to recognize the best projects,” says Dr. Manjunatha LR of ICI in an interview.

September 15 is celebrated as Engineer’s Day and the offline celebrations this year in the city, will, for the first time, witness 15 eminent engineers being awarded with Eminent Engineers Award – 2021 for their outstanding contributions towards Indian Infrastructure by the Indian Concrete Institute (ICI) Bengaluru. This is one of ICI’s yearly event to commemorate some of the eminent personalities of civil engineering fraternity.

ICI Karnataka, Bangalore Centre, for the past 10 years, has been recognizing and awarding outstanding engineers who have innovatively used concrete in their structures. One of the highlights of this event is a technical presentation on Quality Process followed by Namma Metro Bangalore by engineer Simon Niranjan Gilbert – Dy Chief Engineer (Quality) (BMRCL).

Says Dr. Manjunatha LR,  Chairman, ICI – Bengaluru Centre, “We have formed a technical committee which keeps tab on all innovative projects done by professionals across India. This is an opportunity for us to tap their shoulder and encourage them to aspire more in their career.”

Every day a new technology is spoken about to take humans to the next level, says Dr. RL Ramesh, Secretary, ICI Bengaluru Center. “ICI has taken more initiatives to adopt modern technology and reach it out to professionals and young engineers through global research by forming various committees. We take pride in recognizing unsung heroes in the construction industry,” he says.

Dr. Manjunatha who holds a doctorate in Concrete Technology, is a sustainability expert with three decades of experience in the construction industry. In a conversation spanning the developments in the construction industry and material costs, to ICI’s role in seeing the engineering specifics take shape for the betterment of country’s infrastructure projects, Manjunatha spells out some details to The Balcony Stories in the background of the Engineer’s Day celebrations.

Excerpts of the interview   

Engineer’s Day means a lot to the civil engineering industry contributing immensely to the Indian economy with 50 per cent of the planned outlay in the country said to be going towards construction. And the Indian Concrete Institute is reaching out to civil engineers with awards to mark the day?

Engineer’s day is celebrated on September 15 every year to mark the birth anniversary of Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, affectionately referred to as Sir MV. Engineer’s day is akin to being a festival to all engineers across India and more so for Civil Engineers, as we pay rich tributes to Bharat Ratna Visvesvaraya, regarded as the ‘Father of Modern Mysore.’ Sir MV, scholar in many subjects, was a prolific civil engineer, educationalist and economist who made significant contributions in engineering throughout the country.

Engineers are the backbone of economy and infrastructure development for a country, and with the planned outlay and focus on infrastructure development, there is need for chasing quality with efficient engineers. Indian Concrete Institute –Bengaluru Centre is one of the leading amongst the 44 centres of ICI across India and has won 18 best centre awards so far since its inception. To recognize good work, each year ICI –Bangalore centre takes up honouring eminent personalities in the field of concrete technology considering their significant contributions to research, development or application of concrete. This helps to motivate engineers and create a good talent pool.

We recognize engineers and professionals based on their noteworthy involvement in design, project planning, execution, township developments and new projects that promote sustainability in construction.

Can we have a background of ICI and its activities towards the civil engineering industry?

Indian Concrete Institute is one of the leading professional bodies in India, established in 1982. Head Quartered in Chennai, it has 44 regional centers across India with more than 13,000 life members. ICI has a unique distinction of conducting several technical programs like seminars, webinars, exhibitions, conferences, seminars, workshops, concrete day celebrations and annual award functions each year for professionals and engineering students. Being a non-profit organization it is dedicated to the cause of disseminating knowledge on concrete, promoting concrete technology & construction and addressing the research needs of concrete.

ICI has more than 270 student chapters in various engineering colleges and universities across India and brings in student development activities to bridge the gap between theory and on-field practice through various programs like Concrete fests, Concrete Fair, Quiz programs, Concrete Mix design Competitions and Industrial visits.

ICI has brought out many publications and technical hand books to benefit the concrete and construction professionals and also has the ‘ICI Journal’ which helps in publishing peer reviewed research papers and articles.

Many forums in construction and civil engineering have projected that in the next two years there would be a demand for nearly three lakh civil engineers, pandemic or no pandemic! (b) And what is the status of the Engineer’s Bill in Parliament?

India is all set to witness tremendous economic, infrastructure and housing development growth in the coming years and will be the third largest construction market by 2023. And with that, there will be huge demand for quality civil engineers to cater to the requirements of the construction industry.

The engineering community is working on the Engineer’s Bill for the past several years and we do hope to get the bill passed in Parliament soon. Once the bill is enacted, it will help regulate the engineering profession gain a healthy growth.

The state of roads (as an infrastructure issue) is always been a matter of concern for most cities in India. Will the Engineers Day be the right forum to address such basic issues or is the topic out-of-sync here as government agencies are responsible for providing people with motorable paths?

Construction of city roads comes under municipalities, corporation and smart cities Projects. Government agencies build the roads with the help of engineers and contracting agencies. The Engineering forum, professional bodies like the Association of Consulting Civil Engineers (ACCE) head quartered at Bengaluru and Indian Concrete Institute have always been in the forefront to help and advise government agencies on quality assurances in road construction.

The latest developments are ‘tender sure’ road projects and ‘Smart City Projects’ in cities across India which are being developed by Government agencies with private participation. This is through consultation with the engineering communities for better planning, design, and quality assurance with more focus on sustainability.

In spite of lockdown delays that has slowed the pace, good roads and metro infrastructure will soon be a reality in our cities with various initiatives rolled out by the Government and private sector.

When would ICI, as a representation of the civil engineering community, expect the construction scene in Bengaluru and other major cities in India to wake up, after losing out to COVID days?

The construction industry is limping back to normalcy in Bengaluru after the second corona wave which nearly crippled India’s construction sector. Normalcy is returning month after month after the lockdown was ended and we are witnessing 5 to 10 percent growth in the consumption pattern for the building materials every month. Going forward the real estate and construction Industry is hoping for a very good recovery and growth in the coming years as more and more metro lines are being planned in the city along with starting of K-RIDE- Suburban metro line constructions, Bangalore International airport Expansion which is gaining momentum. Bangalore–Mysore expressway is in good progress and the Bangalore-Chennai Expressway project will be a reality in the coming years.

Many top builders are upbeat in Bangalore and are launching many new residential township projects to cater to the new demands of the both the IT Sector and WFH segment with renewed focus. 

Would there be a steep rise in construction materials cost?

The construction materials cost has increased, up to 10 percent on account of steep rises in the input costs of raw materials for steel, aluminium and cement manufacturing. It is also due to lower productions on account of Covid-19 lock downs and also on account of increased logistics cost due to steep rises in the fuel cost.

Going forward the prices may soften in the near future due to increasing consumption patterns fuelled by higher demand for construction materials and improvements in the production, thereby helping to lower the input and production costs. We are already witnessing the softening of the cement and steel prices in the August and September months.

Please tell us more on Engineer’s Day technical presentation “Implementation of Quality Process for Bangalore Metro” by Metro Rail’s well-known engineer, Simon Niranjan Gilbert…

ICI-Bangalore centre in association with JSW Cement Limited has organized this expert lecture by eminent engineer and quality control expert Simon Niranjan Gilbert (Dy Chief Engineer(Quality), BMRCL) who has many firsts in quality improvement techniques and systems for Namma Metro projects in Bengaluru. This is in close association with the quality assurance team of Namma Metro, and was instrumental in introducing Ground Granulated Blast furnace Slag (GGBS), a by-product of steel manufacturing for the first time in the country for a metro construction work which is the most sustainable eco-friendly building material in concrete making. This is done by partially replacing Ordinary Portland cement (OPC) in the concrete mixes at Bengaluru metro new line constructions that has resulted in reducing the CO 2 emissions drastically and bringing sustainability in metro construction. This measure is equivalent to planting lakhs of trees as one tree absorb one tonne of CO 2 in its life time and each cum of concrete with the use of GGBS has resulted in reducing CO 2 by minimum 100 to 130 kilograms per cum, as the metro construction involves million-cums of concrete.

 (Indian Concrete Institute (ICI)’s ‘Engineer’s Day and ICI–JSW Eminent Engineer Award – 2021’ on September 15, (Wednesday) 6pm, Century Club, Wadiyar Hall.  Call 080 22224803)


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