Monday, July 13, 2009

Gammon India - profile of Delhi Metro's contractor

Gammon India, under public scrutiny after a viaduct it built for the Delhi Metro collapsed Sunday and killed six people, is a mid-size infrastructure company in the country that traces its history to 90 years.

The Rs.23.45-billion ($470-million) listed company, headed by chairman Abhijit Rajan, in fact stakes claim to the first pre-cast reinforced concrete job in the country - for the foundation of Mumbai's landmark Gateway of India in 1919.

The first impact of the mishap Sunday was on the shares of the company, which opened lower at Rs.136.50 Monday, against the previous close at Rs.161.20, and soon fell further to Rs.133, down 17.49 percent.

It, however, managed to make up for the losses and closed trade 2.73 percent higher at Rs.165.60.

The company, which was found guilty of negligence in a similar mishap in 2007, where a flyover in Hyderabad collapsed and killed two people, said there was no wrong-doing on its part with regard to the Delhi Metro pillar.

"We followed the highest safety measures and have safety engineers," said Umesh Gupta, vice president of Gammon India. "The contractor always becomes a soft target. I won't comment more than this. Let's wait for the inquiry committee report."

Gammon India otherwise has a long history and claims its association with what was then the longest river bridge in the world across the Ganges at Patna and the longest railway tunnel in Asia, the Konkan railway project at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.

It has built a host of bridges across the country, including some of the major ones in Mumbai, besides some major jetties, dams, pipelines, flyovers, tunnels, reservoirs, effluent treatment plants and water distribution systems.

Its overseas projects include the terminal building at the Sharjah International Airport, over 20 bridges in Nepal, power substations in Abu Dhabi, buildings in Libya and a desalination plant in Dubai.

The company was founded by a civil engineer educated in London, John C. Gammon, who formally established it in 1922 after the praise he won for his association with the Gateway of India. A member of his family, Peter Gammon, still serves as chairman emeritus.

But not everything has been fine with the group in recent years.

In an order passed Dec 21, 2006, the markets watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had found that the company's promoters led by Rajan had misused the company's funds for a rights issue.

The watchdog had also probed other matters such as non-disclosure of a financial pact with another firm, resulting in understatement of losses, overstatement of assets and unauthorised use of bank accounts.

An order was accordingly passed directing Rajan and other associate firms not to sell their shareholding in group company Gammon Infrastructure for three years and refrain from accessing the capital markets for one year.

Curiously, Ajitabh Bachchan, the brother of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, was the chairman of the complainant company, Reliance Silicones India. Although the complaint was subsequently withdrawn, SEBI went ahead with its probe.


  1. Did you just post this? Anyway nice informative post. I was actually looking for the Gammon India v Union of India case. May be you can hop over to the Wikipedia article on Gammon India and improve it? :)


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