Companies & Sectors
UK's Modulex to build largest steel modular unit in India

The factory would be built at Indapur near Pune at a cost of Rs100 crore and production would start in March next

London: A London-based NRI-led company will set up the world's largest steel modular building factory in Indapur in Maharashtra at a cost of Rs100 crore, reports PTI.

Suchit Punnose, chairman of Modulex Modular Buildings Plc made the announcement at a function held here Tuesday night in the presence of Harshavardhan Patil, Maharashtra's Minister for Co-operation and Parliamentary Affairs, who is also an MLA from Indapur.

Punnose said the factory would be built at a cost of Rs100 crores and production would start in March next.

Patil said, "All support will be extended to the project which is expected to provide employment for over 900 people."

He said the state Government has already sanctioned 40 acres and may consider sanctioning another 30 acres for the project.

Patil, who visited modular buildings in London, said the technology is required in India to support infrastructure and economic growth.

Modulex's technology produces buildings with high quality on fixed cost and time guarantee, Punnose said.

"The factory will have four production lines with an annual capacity of 2 million sq ft, operating on an 8-hour shift 5 days a week for eleven months," he said.

This equates to twenty 100-room hotels plus a 1,000 residential or office buildings of 1,000 sq ft each, or accommodation for 2,000 hospital beds, he added.

The factory will be situated on a 40 acre site in Indapur MIDC Industrial Estate in Pune District, 280 kms from Mumbai.

"The design, the logistics and the technology compatibility studies have been completed, the land has been acquired, planning and all necessary permissions have been received, debt syndication has been finalised and now ground preparation has started," Punnose said.

On the technology use and benefits, he said hotels, schools, hospitals, commercial offices, residential buildings, military accommodation and railway stations can be built very quickly with minimum disruption on site.

For example, he said, a 100-room hotel can be constructed in 24 weeks, and 90% of the work is completed offsite and only 10% onsite.

The cost of modular buildings is same as traditional buildings and can be built to any design required. Buildings can be as high as 22 floors, Punnose said.

He said many hotels, such as Premier Inns, Travelodges and Days Inns are built using this technology in the UK.

As many as 440 McDonalds restaurants were rolled out in the UK by the management team now employed by Modulex, Punnose said.


Tennis Association’s weak defence in response to Sania's jibe

Sania, in her hard-hitting statement, had said that AITA was portraying a wrong picture by saying she and Paes was the only possible qualification in the mixed doubles event for India



New Delhi: The All India Tennis Association (AITA) on Wednesday put up a weak defence to Sania's Mirza's jibe saying the selection for the London Olympics was done purely on merit and that it acknowledges the accomplishments of Sania, reports PTI.
Sania, who got a wild card entry into the Olympics, had last night lashed out at AITA for using her as a "bait to pacify a disgruntled stalwart" (Leander Paes).
AITA had assured Paes a pairing with Sania in the mixed doubles event for the London Games after he was teamed up with lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan for the men's doubles, following Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna's refusal to play with him.
In doing so, AITA broke the Grand Slam winning combination of Sania and Bhupathi. But the tennis body defended its selection process, saying Sania's pairing with Paes was purely based on merit and that it helped the Hyderabadi in securing a wild card from the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
"As regards selection of teams, the selection committee on 21st June, the last date for nomination, noted that Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna had made themselves unavailable for selection with Leander Paes despite efforts of AITA.
"The Committee then selected Leander Paes with Vishnu Vardhan as his doubles partner as the latter was the preferred partner and also a silver medalist at the Asian Games," AITA secretary general Bharat Oza said in a statement.
"The committee also decided that wild card application be made for Somdev Devvarman and for Sania Mirza for both women's singles as well as women's doubles, as without a wild card she will not be eligible to play the mixed doubles.
"The committee, thereafter, selected world No 7 and India No 1 Leander Paes to partner world No 12 and India No 1 Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles Olympics event. With a combined ranking of 19 they were placed ninth in the top 12 teams to be eligible for mixed doubles. This selection is purely on merits as stated herein above," the statement added.
Sania, in a hard-hitting statement, had said that AITA was portraying a wrong picture by saying she and Paes were the only possible qualification in the mixed doubles event for India.
AITA said it respects Sania and that her teaming with Paes was very much capable of fetching a medal at the next month's Games.
"AITA respects all its players and is fully aware of the accomplishments of Sania Mirza as an excellent tennis player.
AITA believes that Leander and Sania together are capable of producing fantastic results in the Olympics," the statement said.
The national tennis body also appealed to the players to forget their personal differences for the sake of country's interest.
"We earnestly appeal to all the players to unite together, shed all their differences, stop going public and join hands together in the best national interest of winning medals for the country and to bring glory to the nation."


Life Exclusive
Meeting businessmen and striking commercial deals in Lebanon

The writer gets down to serious business of striking deals for exports from India. The 52nd part of a series describing the unknown triumphs and travails of doing international business


As we settled down in our new way of life in a totally foreign country, we began to slowly understand the Lebanese way of life. If men were handsome and smart looking, women were exceedingly beautiful and most westernised in their dress and behaviour. They were friendly and hospitable. Our own concierge Arieff, who handled general security and the central phone of the building, had recommended a young Syrian girl to my wife, who would be able to do the menial jobs but she could only speak Arabic (Syrian dialect), so we began to learn a few words. Mustafa was constantly stopping over at home to check if we needed any help and advice.
When we came into the country, Rashid Karami was the prime minister. And as we learnt a little more about the political system in operation, India and Lebanon had lot of similarities. The president was a Maronite Christian; the prime minister was a Sunni Muslim and the speaker—a member from the Druze community.  One could say, it was the best secularism in operation in the Middle East, which was either Kingdoms or Sheikhdoms or run by virtual dictators.

Hafeez Assad was the president of Syria; Gamal Abdul Nasser was president of Egypt; King Saud was in Saudi Arabia; King Hussain was from Jordan; Al Sabahs ruled Kuwait; Saddam Hussain controlled Iraq and the Shah was the Iranian head.  Gulf countries had their Emirs.  Except for Lebanon, which was called the Switzerland of the Middle East, followed the European practice of Sunday as its weekly holiday, rest of the above named followed Friday closure.
So, businesswise, we had to everything that was possible to conclude the deal by Thursday in the Gulf, but luckily we could complete the transactions and have the Letters of Credit (called ‘etimaath’ in Arabic) by Friday. It was a tightrope situation, but our Lebanese agents could handle such details with great care and alacrity.
Because of the presence of large number of successful agents in the country, Lebanon was becoming more and more important for our commercial success. I remember, even when we had cement delegations from India, sponsored by the State Trading Corporation, whose representative would take active discussions in negotiations, they would all come to Beirut, and more often than not, the buyers would meet them there. Of course, the STC team would visit Kuwait to finally conclude the contract and have the L/Cs established. On our part, both the Council and STC worked hand-in-glove when it came to marketing Indian products.
Our exporters continued to complain that in spite of several representations to Shipping Corporation of India, they were unable to offer regular vessels so that shipment commitments could be made. This was not possible, because of inadequate cargo for delivery to the Lebanese port of Beirut. However, in the case of Jordan, as we had a bilateral agreement to buy their rock phosphates, there were at least two vessels a month which touched the Aqaba port. Of course, a number of vessels from the Far East would touch Aqaba, and as such, some exporters were able to make regular shipments, and would use road transport to bring the cargo to Beirut, via Syria and have the goods cleared at the land border.
Jordan, being a mountainous country, also had a very large Palestinian population, who were refugees from Palestine, as Israel had firmly established itself there since 1948. Both Syria and Lebanon bore the brunt of the refugee population and we had a large number of them in Shatilla camp, very near the Beirut international airport. Though India was the first Asian country to recognize the Palestinian Liberalisation Organisation (PLO), I was unable to meet their demand, when one day some armed men came to our office to seek supply of Jeeps from India. Arab countries would not buy any product from any company that was even remotely associated with Jewish enterprises; their representative explained to me that this rule was waived when it came to supply of arms and ammunition.
The Indian Ambassador based in Beirut was also accredited to both Cyprus and Jordan.
We had a small office there, and if I can recall, we had Khalid (Ansari?) as the Charge-de-
Affairs, a very bright IFS officer.  
I went on a week’s trip to meet the growing number of importers of Indian goods. They were fluent in English and seasoned businessmen who were associated with the trade and industry;  Emannuel of Synco; Wael Zurub and George Zaarafili (met them in Synco, but later on moved out to set up their own companies), Mohammed Mango, Chacha Mirchandani (the oldest Indian who had received permission to operate from King Hussain's father) and Engineer Abdullah Khalifeh, who had a cast iron foundry and was doing well.
Because of the advantage of language, it was not difficult to move about in Amman the capital, on the hill, and very much like the Lebanese these folks were cultured and friendly.  Very business-like and upfront, they would happily provide you the information needed to conclude business. These merchants had regular dealings with their Lebanese counterparts and this helped us to increase our trade.
Though a number of contacts were established, the Jordanian business community was flooded with offers for a variety of building materials and services from India, once my report was published. It was with Abdullah I was in close touch for many, many years to come.

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts. From being the advisor to exporters, he took over the mantle of a trader, travelled far and wide, and switched over to setting up garment factories and then worked in the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)


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