Soon after Sonia Gandhi unveiled the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, flagging off a new start for traffic clogged Mumbai, Ajit Gulabchand, chairman, Hindustan Construction Company — the contractor of the project — said the sea link has enhanced his company’s image internationally. Excerpts from an interview with Lalatendu Mishra.
How important is this project for your company?
We are a 100-year-old company doing several challenging projects. Because the sea link project was constantly in public eye, I feel great satisfaction,building something every Indian would feel proud of. I feel humble at the same time proud, for constructing this engineering marvel, which is not only useful for Mumbai but also superior in aesthetic value, something unique in our country.
How has the sealink helped your firm?
It was a learning curve. This (sea link) has enhanced our image internationally. It has proved that our engineers are among the best in the world.
We will aggressively bid for such projects globally. In Mumbai too, we will participate in the next phases of the sea link and will also bid for the 22.5-km long Trans Harbour Link project. We will be the first to be remembered for such projects.
Challenges in executing the project?
The plan changed several times, the project was stalled due to objections from environmentalists and local communities. It was also a challenge in dealing with the state government. Inside the sea shifting the 1200 MT Launching Girders, among the world’s biggest construction cranes, was a tough challenge.
Why did the cost escalate to Rs 852 cr from Rs 400 cr?
It was a big project with new challenges and this led to cost escalation. We have learnt from this, we have set up a process that would help in the implementation of subsequent projects without delay.
At the end of the day such projects contribute a lot for the city.