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Destination India for global consultants

June 18, 2007 11:19 IST

Destination India. That is the slogan for international engineering consulting companies, it seems.

Almost all global engineering consulting companies are heading to India as the country is firming up high profile logistics projects in the midst of a dearth of engineering talent.

For instance, Royal Haskoning, Halcrow, Collen Grummit and Roe (CGR), Sanwell and BMT are enhancing their presence in the country.  International engineering institutions and infrastructural developers are planning to set up shop in Indian shore for technical and engineering consultancy for core projects.

Players such as Hove, Consultancy Engineering and Ramboll are already present in India.

So why are they here? The National Maritime Development Programme, a ministry of shipping initiative, is working on the conceptualisation of 276 projects covering an entire gamut of activities in major ports up to 2011-12.

The programme is proposed to be implemented through public-private partnership. An investment of Rs 55,800 crore (Rs 558 billion) is expected up to 2011-12.

According to a Citi Group report, the private sector is expected to invest approximately Rs 34,505 crore (Rs 345.05 billion) while Rs 3,609 crore (Rs 36.09 billion) is expected to be provided through budgetary support and Rs 13,772 crore (Rs 137.72 billion) is expected to be financed through internal resources of major ports.

Besides NMDP, the major infrastructure projects in the pipeline include Rs 25,000 crore (Rs 250 billion) dedicated rail freight corridors, privatisation of container movement by rail and Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) road-port connectivity. Other majors such as Royal Haskoning (Netherlands), UK's Halcrow and CGR of Australia are pitching for major infrastructure projects.

The latest one to join the bandwagon is London-based BMT Group. The Group has set up its Indian operations, BMT Consultants India, to support India's fast growing market.

Part of BMT's ports and logistics division, BMT Consultants India will provide specialised consulting services to the multi-modal transportation and logistics industry in support of both existing and new infrastructure. Says David Wignall, Head of BMT's ports and logistics division: "India's estimated $15 billion investment in new ports and transportation infrastructure calls for urgent access to highly specialised skills and technical know-how."

Operational in India since 2006, BMT has worked for major players in the marine and logistics sector such as DP World, Adani, Shell, Shapoorji Pallonji, All Cargo as well as investors such as SBI, IDFC, IL&FS and Eredene Capital. In support of plans to build a large number of shipyards in the country, BMT is ideally positioned to meet the demand for ship design services. 

Recently BMT completed the feasibility for a large pipe laying vessel for L&T - Sapuracrest JV and has previously designed two catamaran ferries for the Shipping Corporation of India for use in the Lakshwadeep Islands.

Suren Vakil, managing director, BMT, says: "Port infrastructure in India is witnessing unprecedented growth through private investment and we are the ideal industry partner to provide these players with the technical and management support that they need."

Sajith Sreedharan, director, BMT Consultants opines that there is a dearth of engineering talent in India and the international majors are bridging this gap at a time when the country is lining up major infrastructure projects.

These majors are offering market intelligence, strategic advice, due diligence, asset lifecycle services, port planning, design, project management, optimisation, streamlining of performances and other investment consultancy.

P R Sanjai in Mumbai