Chief Operating Officer - IL&FS Urban Infrastructure Managers Limited (IUIML) shares his leadership mantra and provides insight into the Urban Infra space

    How would you describe your leadership style?

    I believe in two things- keeping it simple and straightforward. Ethical and honest behavior helps in establishing credibility.

    After rejoining IFIN, what changes have you witnessed?

    The past 3 years have been the worst that the Indian economy has seen since 1992. Inspite of the company has expanded and it’s more vibrant than ever. The culture in this place has always been one of ownership and commitment, and that’s not changed over the years.

    Has the urban infrastructure in India witnessed growth and how is IUIML positioned in this space?

    Serious thinking of the economic development model for India started in the second half of the 1930’s. When we look at the models discussed during that period, be it the Bombay plan, the Gandhian Plan or that given by M.N Roy, the underlying spirit was always that India lives in its villages. We did concentrate on industries and major infrastructure but never got into proper planning of urban areas. Chandigarh was an exception but that experiment was not repeated. In more recent times we have the JNNURM Scheme (Now Amrut) which looked at improving facilities in the urban centers. This was perhaps the first move by our planners to look at improving urban infrastructure.

    Currently there is focus on urbanization as can be seen by the smart city initiatives. Another scheme which greatly addresses urban issues is the Swachh Bharat campaign (though it is not restricted to urban areas)
    IUIML is asset manager to a facility called Pooled Municipal Debt Obligation (PMDO). Since 2006 the various projects supported by PMDO has been in the core areas of urban development. PMDO has provided financial assistance to various projects covering waste disposal & management, effluent treatment, city public transportation, township infrastructure development etc. The focus of current regime on urban infrastructure mesh well with the expertise of IUIML. IUIML is well poised to expand its presence in this space.

    How is IUIML contributing to the Urban Infra space in India?

    The mandate of PMDO, was to facilitate credit to the urban infra space, where commercial credit wasn’t available. The company has done well and have been ahead of our times with this product.
    PMDO has provided debt to a project in Ambur and Vaniayambadi in Vellore district of TN, India. The region is a major leather processing hub, it processes and exports leather, this hub was faced with potential; shutdown due to ecological problems on account of effluent disposal. The leather units consume huge amounts of water, which gets extremely contaminated it was being discharged into the river. PMDO has funded a facility that collects the waste water from various leather manufacturing units, restores the water quality by proper treatment and then sends it back to the units for use. The entire facility is now a Zero Liquid Discharge facility. It is encouraging to see the effort that PMDO, the urban infra of IUIML has done, by saving around 250 leather units and associated livelihoods. PMDO also supports various waste disposal projects across the country with a cumulated capacity to dispose about 11,000 tons per day.

    Similarly, the facility has lent support to seven textile parks across India; in Nagpur we have supported a project to upgrade city-bus service and in Nanded a project to improve the general infrastructure in the city. With the government attention increasing in this space, it’s exciting times ahead.

    What changes is India experiencing in the Waste Management sector? 

    Census data shows proportion of urban population in India has grown from 17.97% in 1961 to 31.16% in 2011. The annual exponential growth of this urbanization in the last decade has been around 2.76%. With such growth of urban centres and the changing habits of consumption the generation of MSW is expected to go up exponentially. To put the size of Indian urban population in perspective, it stands at 385 million whereas the total population of USA is about 320 million.

    Another associated dimension to increasing trend of urbanization is the changing consumption and hence waste generation pattern.  We have witnessed a massive shift to a use and dispose mode. We need to accept that we will continue to generate more waste. The nature of the waste would change and that requires smart methods of waste management.
    Currently there are numerous waste to energy projects that disposes waste through incineration, bio reactor landfills or composting. The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRS) estimates that India has a potential to generate about 1500 MW power from municipal solid waste. The government has its focus on this sector and it is supported through various initiatives including Swachh Bharat mission.

    As shared with IFIN Panorama Editorial Team

Baiju Mathew

Chief Operating Officer- IL&FS Urban Infrastructure Managers Limited (IUIML), provides insight into the Urban Infra space and his thoughts on effective mobilisation of Municipal Soild Waste Management in India


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