Mr K C Jhanwar

Managing Director, UltraTech Cement Limited

Infrastructure development has been a major thrust area for the Government to boost India’s economy. Howis the Cement Industry is prepared to meet the growing demand?

Cement Industry is recognised as one of the eight core sectors in India. Globally, India is the second largest producer as well as consumer of cement. I take pride in saying that our Cement Industry is truly aligned with the Government’s vision of fast track economic development through Infrastructure activities. India is fully Aatmanirbhar in terms of meeting its existing as well as emerging demand for cement. The present capacity utilisation is close to 65%, which is well spread across over 290 operational plants. Cement Industry has always taken proactive steps to create new capacity little ahead of demand so as to avoid Cement import into the Country. This demonstrates prolific geographical coverage, mature market and healthy competition. All of these are ingredients of a robust sector.

The onset of COVID 19 pandemic impeded the growth engine for the time being, however, our economy has rebounded aggressively. Here, I would like to applaud the herculean efforts made by our Government in a very measured and consultative manner. India’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat support package is probably one of the largest support packages in the world matching 15% of Country’s GDP. It has indeed placed big as well as small Industries on a strong footing. This is a perfect time to boost infrastructure spending with growing confidence of investors and businesses towards investing in India. The National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) with one of the largest projected capital expenditure of INR 111 lakh crore is certainly going to be the game changer for India. I do see a positive outlook for the Cement Industry, well on its path to lay an even stronger foundation for the new India.

As you take charge of President position at CMA, what are the top priority areas you envisage for 2021?

2021 has brought a great cheer and confidence across India with the rollout of COVID 19 vaccination programme and the economy rebounding even strongly. Moving forward, CMA would like to focus on two prime areas – demand revival of cement and improvement in the Ease of Doing Business. These are the two most essential areas that will determine the economic course for the next decade.

We all know that India is the second largest Cement manufacturer in the world. Despite so, our share is a mere 8% in the world. It points out the necessity and urgency attached to infrastructure development in the country for better last mile connectivity, faster movement of goods and interlinkage of value centres with the supply chain. Thriving Infrastructure also ensures improved quality of life and enhanced social status of the population. Demand revival holds the key to secure a steady flow of investments.

Another crucial area is sectoral focus on the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB). It takes 5 to 6 years of effort to set up a greenfield cement plant; ideally, this should take not more than 1.5 years. I am glad that the Cement sector has been picked by the Government as a priority area for improvement in the EoDB metric. I am happy to share that most of the key Ministries are having regular Interaction with Industries to address issues, which are a roadblock in the Ease of Doing Business. Many steps have already been taken in this regard. CMA will continue to engage with policy planners through active dialogues and informed representations. Removal of process redundancy and promotion of digitisation is easier to achieve with high impact on businesses.

Cement is known as one of the hard-to-abate sectors with a 7% share in global carbon footprints. What are the Cement Industry’s plans towards decarbonisation?

The Indian Cement Industry is globally recognised as one of the most energy and resource efficient, socially responsible and environmentally conscious Industry in the sector. Promotion of green, clean and sustainable development has always been part of the Cement Industry’s agenda. A very few people might be aware that Cement Industry has a unique ability to dispose of a wide range of industrial and municipal waste provideit is made availabe in a segregated form at its kilns to be able to beutilisedas an alternative to fuel and raw materials. This way, we are not only conserving the natural resources, we are also minimising the menace of waste generated in the Country through safe and sound disposal at high temperature in our kilns. Our idea is to scale up such initiatives and look forward to active policy reforms in this area to incentivise such circular economy arrangements with Polluter to Pay principle.

Indian Cement Industry is perhaps the only one in the world with a detailed low carbon technology roadmap (LCTR) defined with continuous progress monitoring. Indian Cement Industry is very well on track to reduce its direct carbon dioxide emission intensity by 45% compared to 2010 levels.

Indian Cement Industry has the best plans and best plants with over 43% of installed capacity being set up in the last decade. It is well equipped with state-of-the-art technology. A policy push towards the adoption of Waste Heat Recovery Systems (WHRS) would alone play a significant role in giving a cleaner future.