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Radiant Rajasthan...
It should be of special satisfaction to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje: the dedication by her of the Rs 1000 crore world class sheet glass plant of Saint Gobain at Bhiwadi.

The MoU of the plant was signed in August 2008 when Raje was Chief Minister of the state earlier. The project, like many others, was caught up in the post- 2008 years of economic slowdown. Raje, back in power, dedicated this most modern float glass plant.

At the impressive ceremony attended by over 1000 in a well-decorated air conditioned auditorium, Raje made an evocative speech. Her lucid address was simple and direct. She elaborated her ideas in English followed by explaining the same in Hindi, for the benefit of the large local audience: “our effort is to make Rajasthan the most industry-friendly state. We work to realise this dream. This major project is not just for Rajasthan but for the country,” said Raje.

Rajasthan racing ahead...

Under Raje, Rajasthan has been embarking on major reforms and liberalisation. The most noteworthy relates to labour reforms. The state already has a large number of major projects that include Ashok Leyland, Cairn India, Hindustan Copper, Hindustan Zinc, Hero Motorcycles, Gillette India, Honda Motorcycles, Honda Cars, Havells India, Motherson Sumi, Visteon, Federal Mughal, VI John Group, Kajaria Ceramics...  Only a week earlier, Raje dedicated another Rs 1000 crore plant of Hero Motorcycles.

Jaipur attracts very large number of foreign tourists. Raje referred to the French having the largest tourist footfall in her state and expressed the hope for this to increase along with the flow of more investments creating more jobs.

Concerns about environment...

Chairman and CEO Pierre Andre de Chalendar expressed his appreciation for plenty of support and cooperation received from the Rajasthan government that helped Saint Gobain set up Asia’s best float glass plant. He pointed to Saint Gobain investing in India over $ 700 million in the last two decades creating world class manufacturing facilities with 90 per cent local content: “we have set up a global R&D centre in Chennai to work on cutting edge technology to produce viable and sustainable products that will consume less energy and water. We have given high priority to harvesting rainwater,” he said

French Ambassador Francoise Richier said: “there are over a thousand French companies operating in India sharing technology and helping develop science and technology together. SGGI is the best example of what French companies can do in India. We should together meet the challenge of climate change and save the environment,” said Richier.


950 tonnes capacity per day...

In his welcome address, B Santhanam, President Saint-Gobain Glass India, traced the rapid evolution of SGGI in India which today has float glass plants in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan: “90 per cent of raw material required  by Bhiwadi are sourced from the state. The plant is the most energy efficient (a continuation of the policy of Saint Gobain to ensure at least ten per cent higher efficiency in successive plants).” The Bhiwadi plant is the most modern with capacity for 950 tonnes per day of sheet glass. Santhanam pointed to the focus of the company to impart skills in glass technology, manufacture and handling. He referred to the efforts of the company to improve hygiene and nutrition levels in surrounding villages.

    Anand Mahajan, Head of Saint Gobain’s India operations, pointed to the French giant investing regularly in its Indian operations amounting to Rs 4800 crore: “SG has 27 manufacturing sites in the country in a wide range of businesses and in most of which we are the leaders. The businesses are managed by local managers, “ said Mahajan.

Talking to IE, S N Eisenhower, Director-Operations, referred to a proactive state administration that has extended handsome assistance for setting up production facilities in quick time. He made particular reference to C S Rajan (who has recently taken charge as Chief Secretary of the state) and Ms Veenu Gupta, Head of Rajasthan Industrial Investment Corporation.


Covering whole of India

A R Unnikrishnan, National Head Sales and Marketing, taking me around the plant pointed to the 800 metre long float glass line that converts silica, soda ash and other ingredients into sophisticated sheet glass of different thicknesses. For the first time robots have been employed to increase production, reduce drudgery and ensure safety and high precision.

The location at Bhiwadi, 70 km from Delhi in the National Capital Region, will enable Saint Gobain to serve the large, lucrative northern markets as also central and eastern India. With three strategically well-placed manufacturing plants SGGI will continue to be the leader in sheet glass manufacture; it accounts for over 60 per cent market share. This French giant is getting ready to celebrate its 350th year of founding  with its global R&D centre at Chennai. SGGI will continue to introduce innovative products that have helped the nation catch up with global trends in the  myriad uses of glass.



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