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Now, learn to plan $ 1 billion projects

Companies are waking up to the reality, and are now ready to train young people in managing mega-projects, reports Suprotip Ghosh.

business Updated: Mar 18, 2007 19:26 IST

Consider this, a clutch of giant power projects to tackle the country’s energy crisis is to cost Rs 15,000 crore. The Worli-Nariman Point sea-link has a projected cost of Rs 3,500 crore. The Mumbai metro will cost in the region of Rs 19,500 crore.

While these are today’s costs, changes in plans and delays could wreak havoc on project budgets, pushing them up by hundreds of crores of rupees. Companies are waking up to this reality, and are now ready to train young people in managing mega-projects.

For a start, British Telecom, along with the Indian Institutes of Technology, Oxford University and local partners Tata Consultancy Services, is planning to bring to India an masters degree course in mega planning management.

"There is a major requirement for people, especially in the planning and the economics of large infrastructure projects," said SL Dhingra, former professor of civil engineering, IIT Mumbai. The government has a planned outlay of Rs 14 lakh crore in infratructure lined up in the coming years.

Various companies had approached the IITs with proposals, though they were mostly on the drawing board, said Dhingra.

"Many companies cannot bid for more than one mega-project, as the first project’s planning and finances become so complicated that the company just does not have the heart to bid for another. That is why we are planning to share the knowledge of BT, (formerly British Telecom) with academia," said Pat O’Connell, MD, BT Health.

India would be only the third country in the world, after the UK and the US, to have universities offering courses on mega-projects, O’Connell said. Students here would have the opportunity to work for projects abroad, he added.

A major part of the knowledge base would come from BT’s experience in setting up the National Health Service, a UK-wide, health insurance digital database.

Tata Consultancy Services, a partner of BT Health in setting up the UK database, is a critical cog here. BT Health has created a national broadband backbone for the project. At last count, the cost of the project had escalated by a whopping 55 billion pounds.

"We would be talking to Tata about this project," O’Connell said. The Tatas would be the preferred partner to bring the courses to India, he indicated. However, TCS sources were not available to confirm the development.