V J Kurian IAS : FLYING HIGH

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Reeny Joseph
V.J.Kurian IAS ,Managing Director of CIAL and Additional Chief Secretary of state ,is a popular name among the Keralites for his vision, mission and action. He walked into fame through his hard work, perseverance and dedication. He has also proved that if desired a bureaucrat can play an active role in the development of our state and his name will be carved as a role model for the coming generations Here is an excerpt from his interview to The Friday Mania.

Q.You are known as a man of vision and a leader who can implement people’s participatory developmental projects. Tell us about the hurdles you faced and the measures you have taken to implement these projects?

A. CIAL is the first company in the country to build an airport under PPP model. When Airport Authority of India (then the National Airport Authority) and the state government were reluctant to approve the project on the grounds of financial crisis and lack of experience as this was the first project of its kind in the country, we sought the wholehearted support of the people to complete this project. The dream of an airport with PPP model came into existence within a short span of time and that too at an unbelievable budget of Rs. 300 crore . Now there is no looking back as we could complete the project with a record –breaking time and that too in a cost effective way. Today it has become a model; the CIAL MODEL of infrastructure development. We have a strong investor base of 18,000 stakeholders spreading across 36 countries. Most of them are regular users of the airport and definitely, they have a sense of ownership. Till now we could pay back 153 % of their investment as dividend. . I m extremely happy that I could steer this project to success in a fruitful way.

Q. Your revolutionary idea of constructing CIAL ,a public private partnership airport has made all keralites proud of you . How could you visualize such a cost effective project especially in a state like Kerala where projects move in a slow pace?

A. First of all Kerala was a place with lot of scope for people’s participation as we have lot of NRIs who are willing to invest in good projects. From the starting of the project itself we were strictly adhering to cost effective methods , without compromising on operational parameters. We could build a green field airport with an investment of around Rs. 300 Cr. That was really a reward for all of us to complete it without compromising on the quality. Today even with a sound balance sheet, we have adopted better practices on cost management .I would also like to say that another major achievement is that we are directly running air cargo and non-aero activities like duty free business.

Q. Your immediate ongoing and future plans of CIAL?
A. First of all I would say that we are adaptable to any change. Now a days more people commute by flying to save time and for comfort . Keeping this in mind we implement lot of changes in the facilities of the airport and the recently inaugurated new international terminal is an example for this.. We are upgrading the facilities to face the challenges of the future. Also, the company has been showing better adaptability to situations. For example, when we learned that the power bills are on the higher side, we decided to switch over to renewable energy. Now we are the first airport company in the world which fully operates on solar energy. And I m sure CIAL will be able to exploit the potential of the aviation sector to its fullest.
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Q. What were the major achievements you could make during his tenure as the first Managing Director of Roads and Bridges Corporation.?
A. As the first Managing Director of Roads and Bridges Corporation (RBDC), we got approval for 65 rail overbridges / fly overs from the Railways .The most challenging overbridges in 23 locations were taken up and completed 13 of them. The Seaport Airport Road ,the overbridges at Thripunithura, Irumpanam, Kalamaseery and Pullepady in Ernakulam District and Vengali, Vengalam, Nandi, Chengotkavu, Muzhappilangad over bridges in the Calicut Kannur National Highway were completed during this period.

Q. Apart from all these what are your other areas of interest?
A. I have interest in farming and I enjoy it a lot.

Q. What is your advise to the coming generation ?
A. Aim high, Work hard and success will be yours.

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