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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 FOREWORD:PURPOSE & PROCESS ................................................. 5


1.1 Imagined reality .................................................................... 6
1.2 The method .......................................................................... 8
2 THE “RSK” MAGIC ....................................................................... 11
2.1 RSK Notings ........................................................................ 12
2.2 GRK on RSK ........................................................................ 14
2.3 Sivaraman on RSK .......................................................... 21
2.4 RK. on RSK ......................................................................... 24
3 STORY BEGINS ............................................................................ 26
3.1 Story begins ....................................................................... 27
3.2 VK ..................................................................................... 29
3.3 PVKA ................................................................................. 31
3.4 VRD ................................................................................... 37
4 FIVE MASTER PIECES .................................................................. 47
4.1 Introduction ........................................................................ 48
4.2 A chronological over view-Sridhar .......................................... 50
4.3 A view from the sidelines -Sivaraman .................................... 69
4.4 A management perspective- G R Krishnamurthy .................... 141
4.5 RK’s take .......................................................................... 215
4.6 Gopinath Looks Back .......................................................... 246

5 THE LEADERS OF MEN ............................................................... 284


5.1 Introduction ...................................................................... 285
5.2 SVS Raghavan .................................................................. 287
5.3 MK Sridhar ....................................................................... 290
5.4 ES Chandrasekaran ........................................................... 298
5.5 K Ramakrishnan ................................................................ 301
5.6 Srinivasulu ....................................................................... 306
5.7 S N Krisha ........................................................................ 310
5.8 A Subramanian ................................................................. 311
5.9 VK Gopinath ..................................................................... 315
5.10 AK Mathur ........................................................................ 317

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5.11 V Gopalakrishnan .............................................................. 319
5.12 Sathya Narayanan ............................................................. 322

6 THE EXPERTS SPEAK ................................................................. 327


6.1 Boiler Auxiliaries Project- E S Chandrasekaran ...................... 328
6.2 Management of Technology in BHEL - Dr. Sharan .................. 334
6.3 Field Engineering Services – Dr. Sathyanathan ...................... 357
6.4 Industrial Engineering - Venkatesan..................................... 363
6.5 Nuclear steam generator -Ramadorai ................................... 364
6.6 Planning as a way of life -S Bala & S N Rajan ........................ 376
6.7 Quality Assuarance -Srnivasulu ........................................... 383
6.8 Thoughts from SSridharan .................................................. 389
6.9 A presentation on TQM ....................................................... 393
6.10 Approach to performance issues- Srinivasulu ........................ 414

7 SECRETARIES HAVE THEIR SAY ................................................. 418


7.1 Introduction ...................................................................... 419
7.2 Ganesh ............................................................................ 421
7.3 D.S.Rajasekaran................................................................ 429
7.4 Sivaraman ........................................................................ 435
7.5 Coral Dillon ....................................................................... 440

8 DOWN MEMORY LANE................................................................ 442

8.1 Introduction ...................................................................... 443

9 PHOTOS GALLERY ...................................................................... 448

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10 EPILOGUE ................................................................................ 485

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Chapter-1

Foreword:Purpose & Process

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Section-1
Imagined Reality

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Why did we write the “story?”

Social scientists have told us that humans have a unique capability of


creating “Imagined realities” .These are essentially mental
constructs,residing in only our minds.For something that only exist in our
thoughts, they are powerful motivators and make people do funny things.
The pull of imagined realities often catalyses extra-ordinary efforts from
ordinary people.

“BHEL Tiruchy” is one such imagined reality in the minds of many of us who
happened to work/live there. Those of us who were lucky to be associated
during the formative years of the project spanning project
conception,building of infrastructure and later beginning production,
stabilising systems/processes and then followed by expansion of capabilities
& capacities had a special bond with BHEL Tiruchy, which remains a major
influence in our make-up.

Thus, the idea of recording this exhilarating experience thru’ memoirs got
wide acceptance;the reality that many of us are reaching towards end of our
working lives and thus are in a reminiscent frame of mind, of course added
to the motivation for writing the story.

Tiruchy ,can justifiably claim to own a special ‘DNA’ -characterised by a


positive work culture, painstaking efforts to absorb & build on technologies,
spreading of income generation in nearby regions thru’ massive out-
sourcing, evolving of a township where bonhomie, respect for people & an
enriching ethos for children were taken for granted.

Tiruchy, as organisations invariably do, is facing existential type of issues


with a shrinking market, technology changes and resultant low morale etc.
Though, these writings are understandably ‘look-backs’, it is hoped that the
energy & exhilaration that they convey, will provide some motivation for the
current team to re-invent the ‘magic’,the seeds of which are lying dormant
& only waiting to be re-kindled.

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Section-2
The Method

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The idea of recording the “Tiruchy experience” thru’ narratives from those
who contributed to the creation of history there, especially during those
early years, came up casually in one of the group mails in early 2016. There
was a sense that this would be an interesting project & a sort of mental
commitment was discernible.

MK Sridhar’s enthusiasm was infectious & in his characteristic style, he came


up with a brief ‘history’ of Tiruchy. Sivaraman, who had made a lone effort
some time earlier to pen a panoramic review of his long years inTiruchy, was
also very excited. He located his manuscript filed away some where (the soft
version having got lost). GRKrishnamurthy was another willing & prolific
writer; his ‘management perspective’ bears the stamp of deep analysis,
sensitive treatment of issues and pulls no punches on occasions. RK, was
roped into this much later; but made up with a set of “episodes” - in fact
many more are expected to get added as we go along. Gopinath, after some
amount of coaxing has come up with a brilliant re-collection of the Tiruchy
saga.

An Editorial committee comprising of


Sivaraman,Mahalingam,KChandrasekhar,MR Ganesan & Sudhir got busy-
main job was to contact likely authors for their contributions. We recognised
that despite strong intentions, many of our senior colleagues have problem
to create a document,containing their thoughts. It looked as though, the
passing of many years, have dulled the memories a bit for some; for some
others the effort was sadly beyond their present physical & mental
thresholds; there were also many who felt that it is for history to judge our
efforts without what sounded like self-advertisement.

We did receive subject wise write-ups from many, which have been included.
Most of the EDs were prompt with their thoughts. The ‘soft’ format that we
are adopting to begin with, allows the flexibility to edit, incorporate& delete
as we go along. Perhaps, we should keep it open for couple of weeks for
such a ‘public’ viewing & editing.

The very method, leads to non-uniformity of style, language and some


duplications. The editor’s pen has been used very sparingly! The ‘history’
that was made during the early,formative years in Tiruchy, was truly
stupendous and deserves telling in loud voices; when it comes from those
who were ’hands-on’, the story gets a special texture & readability.

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Apart from those of you who took the pain of sitting & writing, need to
gratefully acknowlege the word-processing&formatting help drawn
unapologetically from Abhishek Naniwadekar and Harshwardhan Sisodia my
colleagues in Pune.

Disclaimer : There is nothing ‘official’ about this narrative.They are purely


personal comments,memoirs&views from people who were associated with
BHEL,Tiruchy.Please also do not look for any editorial stance,for there is
none !

Feel free to write-in (sudhirpunnoli@yahoo.co.in) with your


comments,suggestions and more importantly write-ups on any subject of
your choice ,connected to our theme.

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Chapter-2
The “RSK” Magic

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Section -1
RSK Notings

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RSK – Magic Touch …

There are innumerable examples in


organization studies of a charismatic figure
influencing an organization much beyond his
given role. Tiruchy was fortunate to have
“RSK” to set course as its first CEO(Project
Administrator and then GM). His technical
acumen, human qualities of friendliness &
openness, leadership skills and ability to
inculcate a team spirit amongst his senior
team, paved the way for a brilliant start. The
‘standards’ set by him in day-to-day
management ,endured for long length of
time, much beyond his own tenure, which was cut short by an untimely
death.
As it happens to such ‘giants’, there are anecdotes about him which has
grown into myths.
In simple terms, he managed as if he had the empowerment to do what
needs to be done; bureaucratic considerations didn’t bother him and excuses
where just not accepted. Tiruchy owes him a lot for the non-PSU culture that
we were all proud of…. Excerpts from write-ups by GRK, RK, Sivaraman
follows

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Section-2
GRK on RSK

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SHINING EXAMPLES OF RSK's SINGULAR TRAITS
(Excerpts from GRK’s write-up)

That RSK was exemplary in following a humane approach to employees. 5


Decades ago, and at a time, when the Finance Function, was not inclined to
support such measures, was all the more remarkable. The following factual
cases with reference to our own batch mates will highlight the same. Indeed,
he had the virtues of being balanced, having a sense of proportion and
magnanimity.
One of our Batch Mates by name Devanathan was an Electrical Engineer from
the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. While he was very studious and
academically oriented, he felt like a fish out of water, when he was asked to
stand and do Filing, using steel files for 8 Hours! in the Training Centre. He
came to know that he had to undergo this ordeal for at least a few more
months, in the various sections of the Training Centre.
Unable to continue these rather physically difficult and mentally different
tasks, he decided to quit the services of Boiler Plant. Accordingly, he
submitted his resignation to the Project Administrator.
In terms of the Written Bond concluded by all of us with BHEL, we had to
shell out a fat Sum of Rs. 10000/ (Rupees Ten Thousand Only), even if we
left the services one day after joining the Services of BHEL. If the Author is
right, he hardly drew the Stipend for the period 19th October to 31st October
1964.
He was of course; open to return the Stipend, if any received by him.
Obviously, he was, in no position to cough up the Bond Amount of Rs.10000.
It is to be noted that the Sum of Rs. 10000 was nearly equivalent to the price
of 100 Gold sovereigns, as the price of 8gms of Gold then, was hovering
around Rs. 100 only.
RSK noted that this young man had made up his decision quickly, essentially
because he was unable to cope with the nature of activities assigned to him.
And RSK did allow him to leave BHEL, without insisting upon his returning the
Bond Amount, according to the Agreement!!
P.L Ramanathan, yet another First Batch of Graduate Apprentices was
working in Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC), when he was selected to join
BHEL Trichy. All the selected Candidates were asked to join the Plant on the

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19th October 1964. P.L Ramanathan could not join on the specified date, as
he had to give 3 Months’ notice to NLC, to get himself relieved from NLC.
He, accordingly, wrote to BHEL asking for 3 Months’ Time to join BHEL. The
ever focused RSK was very keen that the selected candidate, PLR should join
BHEL Trichy, forthwith. Accordingly, he wrote to the CMD of NLC that BHEL
Trichy would remit to NLC, the sum amounting to PLR's Salary in NLC for 3
months and that PLR might please be relieved immediately, accordingly.
RSK had envisaged that the Advance amount paid to NLC, on behalf of PLR,
would be recovered from PLR's Stipend for 3 months.
With the Author's long experience in close to 1000 organisations in Public and
Private Sector in dozen countries including ours, in the past 35 years, without
any hesitation, the Author could state that NO CEO, on his own volition and
conviction, would now do what was done by RSK nearly 5 and a Half decades
ago !
Of course, the author has to agree that the present-day CEO of PSEs in our
country, now will do the same, if a Chaprasi from the Politician's Office/
Home commands him to do so; not otherwise.!!
Yet another First Batch of Graduate Apprentice, Mr. Chinnadurai who later on
put on the army rank of Captain under the Short Service Regular
Commission, SSRC in the corps EME, was a Weight Lifting Champion in the
university. After joining the Boiler Plant, as scheduled, he underwent a
Medical Checkup, as was done to all his batch mates.
It was diagnosed that he was suffering from hydrocele and that he should
undergo a minor operation accordingly.
Whether Chinnadurai might be asked to leave the services of BHEL Trichy or
not was hanging in balance!!
But RSK, in his own inimitable Style, ruled that the operation on him had to
be done free of cost by BHEL Hospital and the period of his absence, owing to
medical reasons, should be treated as a period with pay!!
The readers have to note the most important point that all these 3 cases
happened in a span of 3 Weeks’ time or so and were decided in favour of
Trainees; needless to reiterate that these 3 Apprentices were neither known
to RSK earlier or related or anyone else represented to RSK or for that matter
spoke to him, exhorting him to do what he did as the most compassionate
and benevolent CEO!!

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The Author is pleased to Record with Gratitude and elation yet another
instance. Since the Author was fond of attempting Poems/ Sonnets in English
as well as Tamil, the Author wrote a small Poem in English on the
Outstanding Achievement of BHEL Trichy namely, the timely completion of a
big PSE Project in TIME and within the BUDGETED COST and sent this poem
to RSK.
The Author did not stop with that. The Author had the audacity to write one
longer poem on BHEL Township based on his perception, mainly adversely
commenting on the narrow roads and not so elegantly built houses in terms
of overall looks as well as layout.!!
Again, only RSK would have done what he did.
My Poem on the Project was duly published in the house journal 'Boiler Plant
& You'.
Incidentally, a copy of the same was collected by the Author when we the
First Batch of Graduate Apprentices met together at the Boiler Plant after 50
long years The copy of this poem is attached.
As regards the author's English poem on the Township, no one from the
upper management either spoke to the Author over telephone or pulled him
up for the act of indiscretion.
It was rightly ignored and the act of writing so, completely forgotten
Needless to state this poem, also did not come in the way quick progress of
the author in BHEL Trichy.!!
By the by, only a few rhyming words of the poem written to a friend, come to
memory.‘-------the Township's impressive Panorama.
---------------Spreading foul Aroma; (The Trichy Distilleries smell used to
pervade the Township off and on) ---- Has many a Lane, which will remind
you of Triplicane!!
However, in the perception of the Author, this type of magnanimity &
balanced response was, unfortunately, not displayed in favour of him, in the
year 1982, after 18 years of service in the organisation!
Despite the author doing things which, according to his reckoning were the
right things to be done, keeping in view the long-term interests of the plant
and not to buy peace for the next 2 or 3 years when the tenure of the post
would expire, the Author was put on compulsory wait, becoming a persona
non-grata, compelling him to leave the services of BHEL for good.!!

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Despite his poem on Township, which could be termed highhanded, the
author was, in the usual course, nominated as one of the 2 Executives Team,
charged with the responsibility of carrying out an accident investigation case
involving the 14 Ton Coles Mobile Crane, operated by the Crane Operator by
name (Krishnan)!! The Crane had capsized sideward and the boiler
component handled was also damaged.
This was perhaps the first accident investigation on the asset owned by the
Boiler Plant. The other Enquiry Officer besides the author was Mr. D' Souza, a
mighty senior and who had served the Indian Railways, having carried out a
number of Accident investigation cases in the Railways.
The Charge Sheeted Crane Driver during the Enquiry was duly assisted by a
very competent Supervisor of the Transport Department. His English
language communication and presentation skills during the Enquiry were
praiseworthy.
It was a wonderful experience in gathering forensic evidence, in faithfully
recording the questions put by us, the statements of the charge sheeted
employee as also the witnesses and others connected. The overall
compilation of various Photos, Documents, extracts from the Equipment
Manual, the different versions of all the employees, the related literature
survey/ past case studies and finally our conclusion was a totally new
exposure to the Author.
The investigating team of officers was aware that their accident investigation
report, especially involving an experienced employee who was also in the
forefront of starting a UNION in Boiler Plant, could be contested and
challenged in a court of Law.
RSK PERSONALLY DRIVING DIGNITARIES IN OPEN AND WELL KEPT
V.I.P WORTHY JEEP
An important point of interest is to be highlighted here. During the period
when RSK was alive, he was always the Driver of the Open Jeep, in which the
dignitary would be asked to be seated next to RSK and driven throughout the
shop floors and other areas of the Plant. RSK would suitably stop the jeep, as
needed and explain the facilities and processes. If it is OK for the dignitary,
he could opt to get down, along with RSK and observe the people as well as
the plant & machinery in operation!!
Undoubtedly a unique practice followed by RSK, unheard of then or for that
matter even now.

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RSK AS CARTOONIST
RSK had a sense of humour. He was known to make funny written remarks
and signs on the files put up to him for Approval. He used to give his
impressions on the note or proposal sent to him on the margins of the papers
he had to peruse.

Around the time when the Boiler Plant was slated to be inaugurated, the New
Year Greeting to be given to the interested parties bearing the name of Boiler
Plant was to be designed. And RSK came up with one which is attached.

FUNCTIONS/ MEETINGS/ ADDRESSED BY RSK

RSK was a good communicator in English and always to the point only. His
talks were quite brief. He always knew the pulse of the audience. His
popularity was exponentially rising, whenever he communicated to the
employees in such forums. Mr. Anthony Dorai who joined as Assistant
Superintendent, Training was a good orator in Tamil and English. He was
also, an outstanding translator from English to Tamil. RSK would always ask
Antony Dorai to translate his English speech into, Tamil. In fact, RSK would
speak 3 or 4 sentences in English at a stretch and Mr. Antony Dorai, in turn,
would translate the same in excellent Tamil, almost verbatim!!

As a matter of fact, when the author first heard Mr. Antony Dorai translating
RSK's speech in English into Tamil, the author thought, rather concluded,
that Antony Dorai must have had a copy of RSK's proposed speech for the
function, in question, in advance!
Indeed, the Tamil Translation was so impressive and exact, especially when
he did it after listening to RSK's Speech of 4 sentences or so in English.
Later on, all the employees realized and also came to know that RSK's
speeches were always extempore and so was the apt translation done by Mr.
Antony Dorai.!!!
Later RSK started calling Mr. Antony Dorai as “PANDITHAR”, which implies a
Pandit in Tamil Language
RSK's UNTIMELY DEMISE
It is matter of great misfortune that RSK passed away in February 1968 when
the decision to elevate RSK as the Chairman of BHEL from a prospective date
had already been taken!! The Spontaneous response of almost all the
employees, in paying their last Respects to the deceased body of RSK was to

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say the least overwhelming, and tears were rolling from the eyes of one all
who came to attend the ceremony.
After a few days of RSK's untimely demise, a condolence meeting was
organised to recall the yeoman's services rendered by the visionary and
committed leader, unparalleled in the history of public sector enterprises, in
our country. This meet was held in the open-air theatre, behind the
Community Centre.
And the author remembers Antony Dorai reading out a poem in Tamil,
praising the departed personality. His first Words were 'PANDITHAR
ENDRU PALARMUN ENNAI AZHAITHAYE'. This moment of grief is still lingering
in the memories of many an employee of Boiler Plant, at that point of time.
It would not be an exaggeration when it is pointed out that scores of
employees, namely, officers, supervisors & workmen, on their own volition,
used to attend the brief meet which was organised, every year on the
calendar date of demise of RSK, in front of his statue set up inside the plant!
And this meeting was always held, well prior to the start time of General Shift
only!!
Unlike what one witnesses today, in the case of any unit Public or Private, no
member of RSK’s family had anything to do with Boiler Plant nor got any
pecuniary benefit, in any manner whatsoever, in the name of RSK/ Boiler
Plant.
This speaks volumes of the integrity, character and the high moral Standards
demonstrated by RSK. RSK, in fact celebrated the marriage of his daughter
in a temporary enclosure adjoining his residence, in the Township, in a fitting
but rather austere manner only.

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Section-3
Sivaraman on RSK

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Excerpts from Sivaraman’s write-up :

Mr.RSK was a no-nonsense, hard task master. He had asthma but he


ignored it. He used to smoke pipe. He was a father figure, a good pen-
man with a good command over language, an all-round personality - a
technocrat , a good administrator, a product of Jamalpur where the
special class apprentices of Railways are given on-the-job training, a down-
to-earth man, he encouraged sports in the campus (he used to participate in
the Tug of war event), he used to drive the Jeep/car himself, while travelling
to Madras - (There is a photograph where he drove the Jeep to take Dr.Zakir
Hussain around the Factory).wore khaki full pant and half sleeve shirt tucked
in. When the 4-Roll bending m/c (in Drum Shop) arrived in a Railway
wagon for erection, he took charge to unload the heavy rolls from the wagon.
He gave directions from the shop floor to the crane operators (I was a
witness to this).There is also photograph where he was seen operating a
Lathe to mark the inauguration of Production. His unquestionable integrity
and his leadership qualities were his strengths. He was not respecter of
persons just because they are in authority.

I remember at least three of his famous circulars which impressed me:

After a walk through the Township, he found that there were no recreational
activities, even though open spaces between blocks had been provided. Next
day he issued a circular emphasizing the need for activities which will ensure
the physical fitness of employees.

Next circular, he narrated the story of Abu Ben Adam. I do not remember
now in what connection he narrated the story.

The third entitled "Poison Pen" on anonymous letters received by him. (I


wish these were preserved for the posterity. I still hope the files of
Administration Department in the Archives may contain these circulars).

One GA (Graduate Apprentice -the term used before the term Engineer
Trainee was introduced) told me that he was called by RSK one day to his
room. He was shown an anonymous complaint received by RSK against that
person. He asked him to read the letter and in his presence RSK then tore
it and threw the pieces into the waste paper basket. But now vigilance would
have been asked to enquire and report!

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Once he came to Works Manager's (K.G.Belliapa) Office and after a few
minutes called me and dictated a letter to an Officer in the Railways
about some electrode. The letter (as was his wont) was addressed by the
first name (or pet name) of the recipient.

When he dictated the name of the electrode, he spelled it to me, knowing


that I may not know the spelling of the word. He did not stand on
formalities. He was direct in his approach. He attended a General Body
Meeting of the BHEL Employees Co-operative Stores (later closed) and
sitting at the last row was seen solving the cross word puzzle. He used to
walk up to REC or walk round the township. He used to attend the mass on
the Christmas and New-year eve ( I was told by one of the Christian
officers) and sometimes take his wife to the temple and wait outside
for her. When his daughter's marriage was conducted in his house (now
VVIP GH) he invited all the employees above a certain grade.( I also
attended the evening reception). He dressed in Panchakacham and applied
Tilak (Javvadu) to the invitees. {There was a photograph of this also).

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Section-4
RK on RSK

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Excerpts from RK’s piece:

On one darkest day for India & BHEL, we heard that RSK passed away. He
had just then come back from on overseas trip to CSSR and he took that trip
against medical advice. He was known to be ailing by Asthma or similar
ailments. The previous day, RSK had called a Doctor from our Hospital to
meet him in his office to pose as if for a discussion and this was narrated to
me by the same Doctor on the day of RSK’s demise; Doc was not to inform
anyone and to bring the injections to his office. RSK, I believe before the
Doctor’s entry to his room had affixed a square paper in each of the 2 peep
windows in his room and RSK had then locked his room from inside to get a
jab from Doctor. Doctor had got another call in the early hours of the next
morning to rush to him at his house which he did, to administer the
medicine. Doctor was feeling so bad that immediately after a month or so;
he had resigned from BHEL and moved to Tiruchi to set up his own practice.
Much later when Uma Krishnan, Rohini & her husband stayed with us at
Tiruchi in our place, Uma mentioned that at the early hours of the morning,
RSK was on top of his voice was almost yelling & beckoned - “Uma. I am
dying. Please rush.” RSK always works late hours in the ground floor and
used to sleep upstairs. By the time Uma had rushed down, RSK passed out I
believe in her hands. RSK was the First Person who I had seen after passing
away due to the intimate relationship with the great man! He was a legend
and he would continue to be in our memory for the great contribution he
made to us and so timely. When we had our Reunion of I Batch of G As, I
had remembered all the happenings with RSK when we had garlanded his
burst in BHEL along with VRD and all the other GAs. There are great men
but to be closer to feel the greatness, one must be very fortunate.

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Chapter-3
Story begins

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Section -1
Introduction

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The first three ‘heads’, who followed RSK, clearly had a major role in
scripting the ‘story’ and laying the foundation on which leaders who
folllowed, built further. Thus V Krishnamurthy,PVK Achan & VR Deenadayalu
have a distinct position in our narrative.
We are indeed thankful to Padma and Radhika,PVK Achan’s daughters who
facilitated the write-up from him; the day it came neatly typed and
formatted was a very happy one. I have used Sivaraman’s notings on VRD
to throw light on his personality. A piece on VK, hopefully would materialize
soon; either directly or thru an interview.

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Section -2
V Krishnamurthy

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Section -3
PVK Achan

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At the outset, I would like to thank Mr. Sudhir for embarking on this journey
to chronicle the early days of BHEL. As an organisation, BHEL was a vital
part of newly-Independent India’s foray into industry and innovation and it is
important that its story is ably told by someone like him.
My journey with BHEL Trichy started in 1961, when I was deputed to BHEL
from the Indian Railways where I was a Divisional Engineer. Prior to working
with the Indian Railways, I was an engineer with the Hindustan Construction
Company which was a company with more than 2,00,000 people primarily
involved in Military Engineering work during the Second World War. Both
these experiences and my engineering degree from The College of
Engineering, Guindy (Class of 1940), Madras University, were seminal in
helping me in the challenging years that would come when establishing
BHEL’s Trichy plant.
I was appointed as the Project Engineer (Boiler Plant) for BHEL Trichy and
Mr R S Krishnan was the First General Manager. Our task was to create BHEL
Trichy on the BHEL Bhopal Model which had just been commissioned. I
cannot but remember my meeting with Mr Mathur, the Chairman of BHEL, in
1962. We had an in-depth discussion on the modalities of creating the
infrastructure. I was given a copy of the BHEL Bhopal estimate and was
asked to follow the same as a guideline for the Trichy Project. The project
involved the construction of the plant and allied facilities, accommodation,

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infrastructure, roadworks etc. In short, an entire township was to be created
in a cost-effective manner within a specific time frame, without
compromising on quality assurance and the high standards BHEL had
adopted.
A special mention must be made about Mr R S Krishnan. An engineer by
profession, he had served in many Government of India undertakings before
taking over BHEL Trichy. A leader par excellence, he guided me during the
entire project and BHEL Trichy would not have possible without his vision
and guidance. His sudden demise was a great loss to me and the BHEL
family. We had a fine professional and personal rapport and I will always
cherish those memories.
The Project was in collaboration with Techno Export Czechoslovakia and I led
a team of Engineers to where we stayed in Czechoslovakia for six months,
consulting with the Techno Export team and understanding the technical
nuances and complexity of creating such a large and ambitious project. On
our return, Mr Krishnan and I after a series of meetings prepared a detailed
project report the highlights of which I wish to place on record.
Responsibilities were distributed with Mr Krishnan being in -charge of
production and I was given the responsibility to of other departments,
organisation and facilities in the township
To reduce construction time, it was decided that the flooring of the factory
amounting to 15,20,000 sq. ft. with a 10-inch-thick cement flooring to be
taken up on priority to reduce construction time and special foundation work
for large and heavy machinery. Hospitals, Schools and allied facilities for the
staff and workers to be taken up concurrently to keep within the envisaged
timeframe.
To reduce the total cost of construction, the following action was taken:
The fabrication of the steel structure was done at the factory site thereby
saving transportation cost.
By giving Fabrication and Erection work to the same contractor, there was
good saving in cost.
For Sewage disposal and treatment we adopted ‘Oxidation Pond ‘ method
and by locating it at a place where sewage would flow by gravity, we saved
Rs.15 lakhs in the cost of sewage treatment machines.
By adopting the 3 revised and alternate methods mentioned above, we
saved about INR 70,00,000 in the factory construction estimate amount. We
also ensured that the plan was eco-friendly, and I am proud to say that what
was a barren piece of land has more than 2,00,000 trees today.

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The fruit of our collective labour was the inauguration of the Boiler Plant by
Dr. Zakir Husain, Vice President of India on May 1, 1965. I still remember
Mr. Mathur, the Chairman of BHEL, praising our efforts. I fondly recall him
saying that he was particularly pleased with my and my team’s efforts for
the confidence and cheer with which we responded to targets set, despite
them sometimes being, in his judgement, severe.
After the completion of construction work of the Plant, I took up senior
management positions as Deputy General Manager and Senior Deputy
General Manager, overseeing the work of all departments. In 1972, I took
charge of the Plant as General Manager. During this period, the Trichy Boiler
cultivated a reputation as one of India’s most well-managed Public-Sector
Undertakings, with its industry-leading standards when it came to turnover,
profitability, efficiency and employee welfare.
I was honoured to be recognised by in June 1974, by the Rotary Club
(Trichy) as an ‘Honorary Rotarian’ for my services to BHEL and the nation.
The Trichy Municipal Council also honoured me with a special award for
helping create more opportunities for employment in Trichy and Tamil Nadu.
BHEL had become a critical part of my life and that of my family. My wife,
Lakshmi Achan, was the President of the Ladies Welfare Association and
helped many women and their families in this capacity. She was also
President of the Krishna Gana Sabha which encouraged many BHEL
employees to take up and learn music in addition to arranging competitions
and performances by professional musicians and artistes.
I retired from BHEL in October 1976 after a very satisfying tenure of many
years. Post my retirement, I was asked to act as an Advisor to all the units
of BHEL across the country for a period of 2 years and concurrently was
appointed by the Government of India as a member of its Advisory
Committee, Bureau of Public Undertakings.
I was also a member of the Governing Body of the Regional Engineering
College, Calicut for 2 years. The Kerala Government appointed me as a
Director of Steel Industries Kerala Limited for about 15 years.
When I relive the challenging and productive years, I recall the contribution
of the staff and workforce of BHEL. Their commitment and passion which
propelled BHEL Trichy to be a profitable Public-Sector Undertaking need to
be saluted.
My innings at BHEL will be marked not only by my ability, with the support
of an unparalleled team and forward-thinking management, to oversee the
establishment of a highly successful plant but also with the important

A Story in our own words Page 34


lessons I learnt by working closely with passionate and hard-working people
and the good memories that stay with me till today.

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A Story in our own words Page 36
Section -4
VR Deenadayalu

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When I think of VRD, the following lines come to my mind:
"His magic was not far to seek
He was so human...

....and wherever
He met a stranger, there
he left a friend".

His smile was infectious and made strangers friends.

V R Deenadayalu, affectionately and with reverence known as


VRD, also addressed as 'Deena', by very close friends, was associated with
Tiruchy unit of HE(I)L since inception. He was working as an Engineer in the
Department of Industries and Commerce, Govt of Madras (then). when he
was nominated by the State Govt to assist the site selection committee in
locating the Boiler Plant. Originally it was thought that the boiler would be

A Story in our own words Page 38


part of Hyderabad plant. Subsequently thanks to the efforts of Shri Kamaraj,
Boiler plant was located in TN. Tiruchy with its central location, water
resource of Kaveri, roads, railway link with a broad gauge ( in those days
only Tiruchy - Erode section in broad gauge. Both the Main line - in which
Tiruverumbur was located - and Chord line, were metre gauge.) with a Rly
Workshop nearby was considered an ideal location. The present OFT area
was the first choice. VK was part of the site selection team.

There was an interesting episode in the site selection. The team was taken
to Arakkonam first and they were not satisfied. TN was about to lose the
plant. The matter reached the ears of Kamaraj. He asked:" Did they visit
Tiruverumbur? Take them there". VRD was part of this team and the team
was impressed with the location. Kamaraj's knowledge about topography
and geography of TN helped.

HE(I)Ltd, Bhopal was the mother plant and the HQ of HEIL was in 5
Parliament Street, New Delhi.

According to PVK Achan, even before the Project Report was approved by
the Govt, KB Mathur, the Chairman asked the Tiruchy team to start the
work.

VRD was the Asst Supdt (General) and was assisting RSK in all his activities.
He did not have any office or assistants except his Stenographer. The first
assignment was to list out the machineries from the Project Report, write
detailed specification, call for tenders, get the financial concurrence and
order the machines. VRD stayed in Delhi and along with a representative
from HYD compiled the specifications etc. He recalled that even during
deepavali he did not come to Tiruchy and VK brought him sweets etc.. Supdt
Stores and Purchase floated tenders, finalised the vendors. OKS (OK
Srinivasaraghavan) was the Finance man who cleared the proposals very
fast. Orders were issued in record time that there was no time for lobbying
etc..This was a major task handled with no assistance.

VRD recalled with emotion how RSK and Mrs K looked after him in the
hospital where he landed immediately after the Inauguration was over. The
pace of work was hectic and to work with a man like RSK, to meet his

A Story in our own words Page 39


stringent demands, the tight time schedule, multifarious activities, only a
man like VRD could have adequately responded. He had to burn midnight oil
to finish the tasks heaped on him.

When VRD's colleagues in the grade of AS were called for interview to the
post of Superintendent, his name was not in the list. It was not just
disappointing but it surprised all. But when promotion Iist was published,
VRD's name was on the top. That is RSK!
His way of showing his appreciation with a mischief coupled with suspense.

VRD later became Commercial


Manager and Sr Dy GM when VK became GM after the sad demise of his
mentor, RSK. After the formation of Power Project Division at Madras and
with the transfer of PVK Achan to form the new Division, he took over as
General Manager of Tiruchy Unit.

It is very difficult to cover the activities in the initial period with precision
and in a chronological order. So many things happened at various places,
simultaneously: construction activities under Achan: factory and township;
electrical substations, lighting etc under VKV Menon, procurement and
erection of machinery and cranes; Productiom recruitment of Graduate
Engineers and staff, training of artisans, monitoring the visit of Czech
Engineers/technicians, translation of documents from Czech to English,
finalisation of systems and procedures for production activities, manufacture
of atypical equipment, procurement and erection of auxiliary plants such as
Producer gas, Oxygen, Acetylene, Compressed air plants and associated
pipeline work; laying of broad gauge railway lines from Golden Rock and
many other things like tree planting etc., all under the supervision of one
man RSK, assisted ably by other Superintendents.

Later GM's post was upgraded to Executive Director and Group General
Manager. (Later GGM was dropped)I was working with HRS Rao in QC when
he was transferred to Hardwar CFFP as GM.. And I was posted to ED's office.
This was a surprise to me. Even on the first day I was told by VRD the
nature of his work. He told me that he would be spending lot of time with
the Planning group. He expected GM and other HODs to exercise their
powers. No supplier need to meet him.

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I did not know then every Sunday will be a working day. I joined on a
Saturday and the next day I did not go to office. Then A Krishnan told me
that VRD was asking for me. Pongal and Deepavali were exceptions but
otherwise we attended office on all the days he was in town. A little
concession: not 8 to 8 schedule, but 9 to 2 on Sundays and holidays.

Just before I joined ED's office the National Volleyball tournament was held
in our campus. It was huge success.Later the Children's Exhibition was held
which drew thousands of students from rural schools. RK (WRI) brought toy
train, S Raman was also associated. The Computer was displayed and
horoscope was s great draw. The National Chess Tournament was a great
success. Arrangements were made in Community Centre and because of the
great efforts of RK/WRI, a big digital board was set up in Mount Road ( Anna
Salai) displaying every move.

The establishment of Arivalayam was a great legacy of his leadership. Mrs


VRD met a few mentally retarded children in the Vinayaka temple and
wanted to help such children. Christoffel Blinden Mission extended a helping
hand and the Institution flourished under her direct supervision. The District
administration showed interest as outside Madras it was the only institution
in those days which provided education and training to such unfortunate
children at an affordable cost.. Only the parents know the pain and BHEL
showed to them they can be trained and made independent at least in
carrying out their daily activities. Special teachers were recruited and
specialists were engaged for admission and periodic evaluation.

VRD told me once that by paying one more crore to Central govt will make
no difference whereas that one crore spent locally would make a great
difference.Corporte Social Responsibility was unknown in 1970s. VRD
thought the Public Sector units had a responsibility to the society living
around. He provided water supply to adjoining areas by installing taps near
the township boundary, built small bridges for easy access. He established a
centre for giving work to employees widows in the North Gate. The
establishment of Labour Coops was an innovation.

He encouraged ladies welfare centre and its various activities. Four lane
traffic was limited to big metros in those days. VRD planned to widen

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Truchy-Tanjore (State) highway between REC and Palpannai. Bhel was
willing to share 50% of the cost. But it was very much delayed. Ultimately
when it was widened it was possible only for the stretch from Belec theatre
to Kattur. Again RK/WRI coordinated with Highway officials. When VRD
asked me to write a letter to Chief Engineer, Highways, I gently reminded
him that it may require Board's approval. He said he will speak to CMD. That
was the confidence and the kind of relationship he had with Chairman.

It was during his stewardship that SSTP was established and also
Ranipet.Two things I remember about BAP.. Warrier the then CMD (formerly
Railway Board Chairman) offered to approve the project immediately if it
was in the vicinity of Boiler Plant. But VRD wanted the plant set up at a new
location. He did not agree to the suggestion of CMD and the latter had told
VK how insistent was VRD.

C S Raghunathan of LRP coordinated with State govt officials. After visiting


several sited, Pondicherry and Ranipet were zeroed in. State govt was giving
pressure to finalise the site. Raghunathan was at his wit's end. One day as
we descended from the first floor, Raghunathan was telling ED that a
decision was to be taken that day. VRD asked me my opinion. I told him that
Ranipet was better. He asked why. I told him, Ranipet was in Tamil Nadu
whereas Pondicherry was not part of TN. It was decided then and there that
BAP would be located in Ranipet. VRD mulled, pondered over issues
thoroughly and once he took a decision no one can change.

VRD was eager to showcase and encourage the local culture whenever
opportunity occurred. He offered paddy garlands and garlands made of
cardamom.Tanjore plates, icons of Nataraja and Sivakami, paintings on rural
life, Cheroots from Woraiyur, khadi silk, Imambasanth mangoes from
Srirangam, sandal wood carvings and many other gifts with local flavour was
presented to the guests. Garlands made by boys of Arivalayam was used. No
fancy flowers from Bangalore, the locally made Sendu was offered. Kamath
of LRP prepared small write-ups on the features and significance of the
Tanjore Art Plate and the Nataraja. It was printed and given along with the
gift. It was a value addition.

Guests were taken to Grand Anicut for dinner on the Kaveri river bank. They
were told about the design and history of this engineering marvel.Top

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officials from collaborators were taken to his house for a special fare on a
banana leaf:Idli, sambar etc. A Krishnan used to say most of the tricky
issues were solved during these one - to - one dinners at
home.Entertainment was arranged in Kaveri GH by way of Karagattam ,
Quawali etc.

Model Room was modernised and a mini theatre was added. A slide and
sound presentation was arranged. It took several months to finalise the draft
material of the sound bytes. Every word was analysed. LRP under A Krishnan
prepared several drafts. Even after the release of the first version, we were
asked to critically analyse the material.The grand OM with the slokas on five
elements was most inspiring.

Truchy's role during floods will be ever remembered by the citizens. One
evening I received a phone call from an officer living in Tillainagar that flood
waters was entering the city. I conveyed this to VRD in his house. He
immediately called for an emergent meeting of Union leaders , Security
personnel and Civil Engineers. Teams were formed and swung into action..
Fire Service Personnel did an exemplary job. Sand bags, rafts were made
available. Food packets we're readied and distributed. The rescue operation
was closely coordinated with revenue officials. As the floods receded a list of
medicines required was prepared and RM Madras was asked to procure the
medicines. As the road and train services were blocked, VRD spoke to the
local Correspondent of The Hindu to fetch the medicines by the plane owned
by The Hindu.
D V Subramanian and I went to Trichy airport in the early morning to receive
the medicines. It was always ensured that the local authorities were given
the due importance.

The Tiruvanaikoil temple was flooded and our fire service personnel pumped
the water. The libraries of St Joseph and SRC were flooded damaging the
books. Giant industrial fans were lent to dry the books.

The local Rotary Club honoured VRD for the services rendered. He accepted
on behalf of all the employees engaged in the operation. Similarly Bhel
teams volunteered and were deputed to Rly accident sites.Once there was a
fire in a village where many of our workers lived. Vessels, bedsheets, ration
were distributed to the affected. After this incident, a Committee - Grama

A Story in our own words Page 43


Valarchi Panikuzhu - (Village development group) under Chief of Admn was
formed.

VRD told stories from the freedom movement on Independence day and
Republic days to inform and inspire the younger generation.He procured four
sets of the Complete Works of Mahatma Gandhi and gave it to the libraries
of Township Higher Secondary Schools. The one set which was kept in the Sr
Con Hall was given to YWCA (the then) Higher Secondary School.He took lot
of interest in the Township schools. He approved the appointment of extra
teachers to aided Schools, over and above the govt teachers. Shawls were
presented to teachers in Tiruchy (through DEO) on Teachers Day. A high tea
was organised in the Township schools for the teachers who were presented
with a gift item.Teachers were given medical treatment in BHEL hospital.The
construction of MD Auditorium was another land mark. It was originally
designed for air-conditioning but there was delay and cost escalation which
forced to drop sir conditioning. VK opened the building and KRParameswar
and MR Naidu were also present.

The Stadium was improved over the years. Friendly cricket matches were
organised.When a request was made for books by a group of employees
from Kattur who opened a library, I was asked by ED to select the books
which were gifted to the library.REC and BHEL.had very close cooperation. It
was a model of Industry-Institution relationship. Prof Manisundaram started
part-time engg courses for Diploma holders and many Supervisors of Bhel
were benefitted. PG courses were started in REC on Power engineering etc.

Several leaders visited the Plant, including RVenkataraman, EVR Periyar,


Veeramani and Kanchi Mutt Seer Shri Jayendra Saraswati swamigal.
Dinamani Editor Sivaraman also visited. Whenever a visitor arrived at the
GH he was received and photographed by our team Sivakumar and Gopi.
Before they arrived the photographs were displayed in the Board in Bldg 24.
Sometimes it was an overnight job. There was pride in the staff and there
was generous appreciation from ED.The team work was most impressive.
Drivers, GH staff, attendants, Union leaders all cooperated to make every
visit most memorable.

VRD was a pioneer in the establishment of BIM. He worked along with the
then District Collector Srinivasan, an MBA himself and VK and PSM.He later

A Story in our own words Page 44


became the Chairman of the Board of Governors of BIM.There were many
invitations from all over the State to preside/participate in functions. He told
me clearly the he would attend one function a year and that too only in Engg
institutions.He encouraged the work done by Sri Ramakrishna Kudil, an
orphanage, and off-loaded certain products. Similarly we had a tie up with
Seshasayee Instt of Technology. We off-loaded some products and two
wards of employees were admitted to SIT.

He was on the Board of HMT, BHPV. He was nominated as a member of the


Syndicate of the Anna University. He was Chairman of the Technical
Teachers Training Institute and Plastic Research Institute.

He was the main source of inspiration for the establishment of Welding


Research Institute and OHS.There was a fire in a village nearby where many
of our workers lived. Vessels and ration were . It was after this a Grama
Valarchi Panikuzhu ( Village uplift group) was formed with union and
management representatives. Chief of Administration was the Chairman of
the Committee.

RSK day was observed on his death anniversary every year and his statue
garlanded and wreaths placed with two minutes of silence, before the
general shift.
When there was scarcity of cement for the construction of houses by Bhel
employees in BHEL Nagar, ED spoke to Dr Collector and arranged special
quota for this work.

Employees belonging to Muslim community requested for allotment of place


for a Mosque. VRD asked OV Mohamed (of Civil Township ) to earmark a
place. A piece of land east of the present Adi Parasakthi temple on the banks
of the lake was chosen. That evening when I visited the Vinayaka temple, I
found flags marking the location. Next day I told ED that the place was
suitable for the Mosque as the temples will have annual festivals and fire
displays, processions which may interfere with the prayers in the Mosque.
Immediately ED called Mohamed and changed the location. The land was
surrendered to the State govt by Bhel and it was reallotted to the Mosque.
He always listened to suggestions from his staff and others.

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In another instance, when the Stadium was remodelled I suggested
provision of dressing rooms, bathrooms etc. These were added.Again, when
he chose the name for the School for Mentally Retarded children, Anbagam
was finalised. I informed him that that Anbagam was the name of the HQ of
a political party, he changed to Arivalayam. Ironically later that party built a
new HQ and named it Arivalayam.

There were many more such incidents, but I want to mention three of
them:Once a physically handicapped worker represented about problems in
his visit to Pune to fix the new prosthetics. ED met the employee, then
spoke to Varadarajan, the Personnel Manager and ordered exemptions
required for this purpose. On another occasion, the Dentist informed ED
about a case of oral cancer. ED immediately asked to Doctor to take the
patient and fly to Bombay for treatment in Tata Cancer Institute.In another
case, an employee was terminated for some malpractice in TA claim, when
he was deputed to a site carrying materials. He met the employee and after
knowing the facts, asked me to prepare a draft order to reduce the
punishment from removal to reduction in rank.

He encouraged young executives to shoulder higher responsibilities. He met


every Engineer who proceeded abroad for training in the works of our
Collaborators and impressed on them the importance of the visit.

This is not the end of the story.But I have to stop somewhere. It was my
proud privilege to work with such leaders who treated us as colleagues, not
subordinates.

-- Sivaraman Srirangam.

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Chapter-4
Five Masterpieces

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Section -1
Introduction

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The contributions from MK Sridhar, S Sivaraman, G R Krishnamurthy , R
Krihnamurthy and V K Gopinath which follow can be called the ‘anchor’
pieces of our ‘story’.
Sridhar’s is a chronological tour through Tiruchy’s organisational journey. His
attention to details, objectivity and clinical approach to people & events are
what make it valuable. His passion for the ‘story’ to be published has been a
major factor ,fuelling our enthusiasm.

Sivaraman had taken upon himself the task of putting down his
reminiscences quite some time back. He had the benefit of viewing the
unfolding of history from interesting angles(his height allowed him to look
down the shoulders of many stalwarts !); add to this his talent for keen
observation & an easy prose and we have a panoramic description. He tends
to be emotional/passionate on occasions; but that does not detract from the
relevance of what he says.
GRK has donned the ‘hat’ of a management expert and analysed the growth
and accomplishments of Tiruchy. Starting as a bright and sprightly graduate
apprentice of the first batch,he had the opportunity to be part of many
events and moments, as he progressed his way thru’ departments.
He has a photographic memory which has helped him to describe events
from early years.
RK has chosen a unique methodology of narrating the ‘story’ around, what
he terms ‘episodes’. He ,perhaps, holds the record of being the only
candidate , who lighted a cigarette during his job interview; he of course
went on to light many fires during his tenure there.
Gopinath has produced a most comprehensive and well-written overview. He
has taken pains to walk thru’ many areas and more importantly bring to
notice contributions from scores of professionals. The vista that he covers is
truly impressive.

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Section -2 A chronological
overview-Sridhar

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AN OVERVIEW OF BHEL TRICHY’S GROWTH 1962-1986
AND
GLIMPSES OF BHEL HISTORY - M.K.Sridhar

Early years of ‘command economy’ …

With hardly any major industries present at the time of independence in


India, in early 1950’s just after independence ,Pandit Nehru decided to set
up a number of industries in public sector , in line with the then prevailing
mood of socialistic pattern of development and also since not many private
investors were willing to enter this field of heavy industries. Accordingly
three steel plants under Hindustan steel,HMT,ITI ,BEL etc were set up in
early 1950’s and after them one to make electrical equipments . Accordingly
HEIL came up in 1956 at Bhopal for the manufacture of electrical
equipments for power generation, transmission and distribution with
technology from AEI-a group of prominent British companies.

Initial steps with ‘Eastern block’ support ….

6 years later in 1962 Government felt the need to expand the mfg capacity
in this field by setting up more manufacturing plants at new locations which
would also enable more areas getting industrialised. With India having
excellent political relations with Soviet Russia and east European countries
at that time, India being able to buy goods and services from those
countries on rupee payment and reluctance of western country’s companies
to do business in India, Indian govt accepted the offer from Soviet Russia
and Czechoslovakia to set up new plants with technological inputs, mfg
equipments and services coming from themStates after states vied with
each other for getting the new plants located in their state. The requirement
of the Czech plant to manufacture boilers and turbo sets was 6000 acres of
land ,access to a water resource and availability of adequate skilled labour
andengineers .After touringthe country the Czechs recommended
Ramachandra puram ,30 km from Hyderabad for setting up the plant for
manufacture of high pressure boilers ,boiler auxiliaries ,steam turbines and
turbo generators of 30,60 and 110 mw size.

Tiruchy squeezes into the plans …

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Thanks to late Kamaraj who was close to Pandit Nehru, the Czech proposal
was split and Trichy was chosen as site for manufacture of high pressure
boiler and auxiliaries retaining Hyderabad for turbo generator sets
manufacturer.This splitting met with resistance from AP govt, but it proved
a wise decision as technology for manufacture of high pressure boilers and
for turbo generators are totally different and have nothing in common and
nowhere in the world these two products are made in a single location.
Manufacturing both of them in a single plant would have created many
problems.It also enabled more areas to be industrialised in the country.
These plants were incorporated under HEIL at that time.

Skoda Exports in action….

Technology for Trichy plant to come from Czechs was for design and
manufacture of 30, 60 and 110 m.w coal fired boilers and also for industrial
use. First Brno engg works represented by Skoda exports that were quite
prominent in those days were the major technology providers. Outlay for
Trichy project was 18 cr rs and for Hyderabad 27 cr rs .The trichy plant’s
initial capacity was to manufacture of 12 boilers of 60m.w per year or
equivalent.

The plant location was selected near village of Tiruverumbur about 13 km


east of trichy, as it was a barren non agricultural land and water supply was
not a problem as river Cauvery was closeby and plenty of under ground
water was also available. A DPR was accordingly prepared by Skoda export
based on information provided by HEIL on site conditions, market
requirement, skill availability etc .Mr Zdanak Kuchler (affectionately referred
as Kuchelar) was Skoda export’s resident representative.

‘RSK’ takes charge ….

Thus Trichy plant under HEIL became the first and only mfg unit in the world
to manufacture boilers and all it’s auxiliaries-mills,fans,gas cleaning
eqpts,structures and valves-all at a single location-a unique feat .Late Mr
R.S.Krishnan, affectionately referred to as RSK with a long experience in
railways was appointed as CEO, and subsequently designated as project
administrator (PA) To start with top ranking engineering graduates fresh

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from college as well as experienced engineers were selected by a UPSC led
team and sent for training in various fields of specialisation in industries in
Czechoslovakia. So were supervisory personnel with previous experience.
They were trained in czech language by late Mr Chatterjee ,who also
translated quite a number of documents and drawings to English .Starting
salary for fresh engg graduates was rs 400 per month after 2 years of
training.

A number of tests were conducted with coal from madhya pradesh collieries
at Bhilai to provide the basis for design of boilers in Czechoslovakia under
late Mr Rama Prasad.

Land acquisition went off smoothly and construction work for both plant and
township started in mid 1963 .Training centre was first established and
artisan trainees were selected from various industrial training institutes for
specialised training in the needed crafts. Employees were travelling from
Trichy town in both - a few company owned and public buses.

Project activities completed on schedule and within budget….

Plant construction progressed smoothly in all areas-mfg shops,


administrative buildings, engineering building ,canteen ,various gas plants
,central laboratory, substations etc as per schedule. Ultimately the plant
construction was completed within approved 18 cr Rs without cost over runs
and as per time schedule under the guidance of late Mr R.S.K- a rare feat.
Thus trichy unit still under HEIL became first of the three new plants ready
to start manufacturing by mid 1965.

Kailasapuram also takes shape ….

Township later named as Kailasapuram started functioning from mid 1964


with assured 24 hours water supply from borewells on the bank of Cauvery
near Vengur, full fledged hospital, shopping centre, community centre for
employee’s recreation and an officers club. Several schools in English and
Tamil medium including the prestigious one by Montfort brothers of Yercaud
later named after RSK also started functioningIn November 1964
Trichy,Hyderabad and Hardwar units were separated from HEIL since it was

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proving unwieldy and incorporated as BHEL .Mr K.B.Mathur was appointed as
1st chairman giving up his post in HEIL.

Even before full completion of of plant construction, partialproduction of


valves started first in early 1965 and first valve was handed over TN water
supply dept. The unit was formally inaugurated in June 1965 by vice
president Sri Zakir Hussein in the presence of Sri C.Subramanyam,
Industry’s minister Triloknath singh, and chairman K.B.Mathur ,function
being held in bldg no1.The designation of CEO was changed from project
administrator to general manager.

THUS BHEL TRICHY WAS BORN WITHOUT MUCH BIRTH PAIN

Inflow of initial orders

Soon after plant inauguration,Trichy unit received it’s first order for 2 nos
60 mw unit from TNEB for Ennore power plant and there after similar order
from UPSEB for Harduaganj power plant. About 3000 tons of boiler
components were produced in 1965,the first year of production ,against
30,000 tons to be achieved at full capacityWhile the above contracts were
being executed ,orders started coming for higher sized 110 mw capacity
boilers from APSEB for Kothagudem, TNEB for Tuticorin ,UPSEB for
Harduaganj,BIHAR SEB for Patratu,Punjab SEB for Bhatinda etc. Orders were
also received for 100 mw boilers at Obra in UP and Badarpur to match 100
mw turbines from Hardwar and 120 mw boilers from Gujarat SEB for Ukai
and Gandhi nagar to match 120 mw turbines from Bhopal. The100 and 120
mw boilers were designed completely by our own design engineer’s efforts
in the absence of technology transfer agreement with Czechs for that size.

Limitations of Czech design….

A few words here about Czech boiler design.The boilers were designed based
on coal properties from Madhya Pradesh collieries tested at Bhilai steel plant.
The boilers were indirect fired with intermediate storage of pulverised coal in
bunkers and then transporting it to boiler thro’ a vapour fan which made the
operation a bit more complicated with too many auxiliaries involved. The
auxiliaries consisted in all 1.Ball mill 2.Classifier to segregate and send back
coal not fully pulverised 3.PA fans and Vapour fans , 4.Cyclone separator

A Story in our own words Page 54


5.ESP and 6 Tubular air preheaters. Furnace water walls were plain tubes
without fins and covered with refractories. With these draw backs and
absence of 200 mw design for which demand started coming, it became
evident that continuing with Czech technology for a long time was not
feasibleThough Czech design boilers had these drawbacks, GOI had no other
options at the time of agreement, because of rupee payment, close political
relations with Czechoslovakia and reluctance of western country boiler
makers to come to India. After about 20-25 boiler contracts were obtained
,around year 1969, customers started asking for 200/210 mw boilers, as
well as new specifications which could not be met with Czech designs and
BHEL,Trichy had to scout for other boiler technologies.

Our indebtedness to Czechs ….

While Czech technology had the above drawbacks, their personnel’s whole
hearted support ,when we were beginners in running a boiler mfg plant
should never be forgotten .Whatever short fall in their technology, Trichy
unit should be grateful for the Czech technicians who came to Trichy and
worked along with us as if they were also one of us and in totally alien
conditions. Special mention must be made about:-

a.Karel Drapal their chief ,affectionately called by us as RAJAGURU (teacher


of CEO) whose guidance helped us a lot in running our operations when we
were all still beginners and

b.Their welding technologist-a Dr in metallurgy,whose name I do not


remember who trained our welding engineers and HP welders from scratch
in high pressure welding, alloy steel welding, heat treatment of welds etc
which laid the foundation stone for BHEL Trichy becoming forerunner in
welding technology and of steel and producing highquality welds,high pr
boiler mfg is impossible. Mention must also be made here of contribution of
late Mr H.L.Prabhakar in developing welding expertise among our engineers
,supervisors and welders which together with that of Czech welding
consultant laid the foundation for BHEL ,Trichy to become country’s leader in
welding technology.

The first set of boiler components were flagged off early 1967 to Ennore as
the site got ready to receive the same.

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RSK’s departure ….

28th February 1968 happened to be a gloomy day for BHEL, Trichy with Mr
R.S.Krishnan,who was due to become CMD shortly, passing away. Dr V.K
took over as GM. The affection of employees towards Mr R.S.Krishnan was
reflected with contributions coming from all employees for installing a bust
of late RSK in the plant. The CBSE affiliated school which became famous
after a few years were also named after him.

The year 1968 saw completion of supplies for the first 60 mw plant at
Ennore about 3 years after contract was received. With a comfortable order
book, rated capacity of 30,000 tons of components per year was also
achieved 3 years after formal inauguration .The year also saw Trichy unit
getting it’s first of several contracts for industrial boilers, (oil fired) ,from
Madras fertilisers whose consultants M/S EIL were somewhat sceptical ;the
unit was successfully commissioned 3 years later.

Tool down over Bonus payment ….

To promote a distinct public sector ethos of workers participation in


management , several committees with elected worker’s representatives and
nominated management personnel were constituted and regularly met and
resolved issues-works committee, township committee, hospital committee,
canteen committee etc. However this year also saw the first industrial unrest
- a Tool down strike over bonus payment issue and lasted for 4 days. It was
resolved by forming a joint committee at corporate level consisting of
recognised union representatives from all units, corporate HR personnel and
national level trade union representatives to regularly meet and discuss
issues.

A Story in our own words Page 56


First export order…..

A significant step was taken in the year 1969 by BHEL; Trichy by competing
for NEB, Malaysia’s 2 x 60 mw oil fired boilers for their Tuanku Jafar power
plant at Port Dickson, which was funded by World Bank against stiff
competition from all over the world. Though BHEL’s price was competitive,
NEB’s consultants –Preece Cardew and Rider were sceptical about BHEL’s
ability to execute. BHEL gave several additional guarantees, won the
contract and executed it to the fullest satisfaction of customer and
consultant and under consultant’s supervision.

Satisfied with our performance, NEB, Malaysia later placed repeat order for 3
-120 mw boilers at same location .Much later NEB came to BHEL, Trichy for
converting these boilers to gas firing.BHEL Trichy also got contracts for 3
120 mw boilers for their prai power stations and 2 120 mw boilers for NEB’s
pasir gadang power station

Expansion of manufacturing capacity to 2000 MW/annum along with


Combustion Engineering technology………

With demand for power generation in the country growing up by leaps and
bounds and more electricity boards planning power plant additions it became
evident that Trichy unit had to expand and accordingly expanding to 2000
mw/year was initiated .Demand started coming for 200/210 mw sets as well
as new technical requirements. This necessitated acquiring new boiler
technology and technology transfer agreements were signed with
Combustion engg of USA for latest boiler designs of 200/210 and 500 mw
units ,APCO,USA for rotary air preheaters ,KKK of Germany for fans and SF
Sweden for ESPs. All these agreements were signed with complete rights
during and after expiry royalty period.

Some of the salient features of CE boiler design are 1.Flat fin welded water
wall panels, , 2.Ultra violet flame scanners,3.Triple S combustion safety
system,4.direct conveying coal from mills to burners thro’ PA fans along with
air for combustion ,bowl mills ,etc.

A Story in our own words Page 57


Sub-contracting of non-pressure parts and indeginous development
drive…..

Along with this a major decision was taken to increase mfg capacity without
further investment by outsourcing of simple, non pressure
components(called subcontracting at that time) and manufacturing pressure
parts, mills and fans only inside the factory .It also made the plant cost
competitive. Worth remembering here late Mr A.K.B Lakshman’s efforts for
this purpose in developing ancillary industries,training them etc, which laid
foundation for Trichy’s growth as a manufacturing hub which is what it is to
day .While for a few years these ancillaries were depending on BHEL for their
business, over a period they were able to get business from others also.

Also in line with the philosophy of Import substitution promoted by GOI at


that time (more or less same as make in india advocated today),an
indigenous development cell was formed under materials manager
,developing vendors in India for bought out items, castings and forgings etc
meeting the specifications. A good number of companies grew by this effort.
Few prominent ones are-Everest engg works ,Coimbatore, Ramakrishna
steel foundry, Coimbatore ,Sivananda steel foundry, Chennai, Bharat forge,
Pune ,IL Kota etc. Import substitution was also successfully achieved for
alloy steel welding electrodes thro’ Advani Oerlikon, Mumbai and D& H
Secheron,Indore.

A Full fledged data processing centre with 3 large main frame computers
from ICIM was installed with British aid for the first time in India replacing
the punched card machines .Variety of programmes to process and meet
technical, managerial, and administrative and finance dept’s requirements
were developed.

Entry to Nuclear power sector

The year 1971 saw Trichy unit making foray to Nuclear power sector
obtaining a contract from DAE for steam generator for the 2nd 235 mw unit
at Rawatbhata ,Rajasthan .A new nuclear production shop was set up and
these were manufactured to very stringent quality standards under direct
surveillance of DAE engineers. Satisfied with it, BARC requested Trichy unit
to manufacture steam generators and a few more components for their

A Story in our own words Page 58


sodium cooled fast breeder reactor at their reactor research centre in
Kalpakkam to be manufactured under much more stricter quality
requirements .Messrs Stein Industrie ,France provided required guidance in
this regard.

Later after the Pokhran test, Canada stopped permitting their designs for
future nuclear plants and BHEL developed a new and better design for steam
generators with assistance from Kraft werke Union of Germany for the
subsequent 235 mw nuclear power plants at Narora ,Kakrapara, Kaiga etc
.A perfectly clean new clean room was constructed for this purpose. These
had to be manufactured to very stringent requirements to handle radio
active heavy water flow in the tubes .Several of our engineers Messrs
Krishnamachari, Ramadurai, Sundararaman, Arunagiri, and Sururi etc went
to KWU and their vendors Messrs GHH in Germany for training in design,
manufacture and quality assuarance. They ensured that all the strict quality
requirements were fully met with and these steam generators have been
working satisfactorily for over 3 decades.

Few years later Trichy’s engineers developed own design successfully for
steam generators for the 500 and 700 mw nuclear power plants at Tarapore
and Kakra para....

A knowledge-center for “Welding technology”…..

Other major activities in the year 1971 were opening of Trichy branch of
Indian Institute of Welding,inaugurated by Chairman O.S.Murty which
thanks to late S.K.Mazumdar’s enthusiasm became very popular all over
India,8 years later Welding research Institute with UNDP aid was set up at
BHEL campus.60 mw units at Ennore and Harduaganj etc started feeding
power to grid. Engineers were sent for training in CE,USA,SF Sweden and
KKK Germany in various areas of specialisation.

Orders were placed for new equipments required both for expanding
capacity to 2000 mw/annum and to enable manufacture to CE design such
as PPM, induction pr welding,on line inspection of welds etc. New system of
Component code and Despatchable Units as per CE practice were introduced
for monitoring execution of contracts.

A Story in our own words Page 59


Dr VK left for Delhi as CMD at corporate level in April 1972.

Stepping into 200 MW units

Contracts were recieved for 200 mw sets starting with Obra TPS in Uttar
Pradesh followed by Ukai,Wanakbori in Gujarat, Korba ,Satpura, in MP,
Badarpur in Delhi ,Tuticorin in TN, Koradi, Nasik, Bhusawal in Maharashtra
,Vijayawada in AP etc .Computer aided design of boilers with all calculations
,sizing , etc thro’ computer programmes of CE were initiated.

At this stage customers started complaining to ministry of power and heavy


industry about BHEL becoming a monopoly and dictating price despite these
contracts being won by BHEL with competition coming from Messrs
AVB(later ABL), a company set up at Durgapur by Messrs ACC and Babcock
& Wilcox of UK. Also BHEL’s price all along was comparable with landed cost
of imported boilers from foreign suppliers with customs duty added.

A phase of major organisational changes at corporate level…

With Dr V.K at helm of affairs several organisational changes took place.


Bhopal unit which was with HEIL got merged with BHEL. Two posts of
director finance (Mr S.V.S Raghavan who later became CMD) and personnel
were created at corporate office followed by Director-technical and later on
Director - commercial. A corporate marketing group was set up and BHEL
started negotiating with customers clubbing boiler,turbo generator and feed
pumps put together as a package unlike earlier practice of separate offers
.Erection dept was shifted to Chennai as a separate profit centre headed by
an ED under Power projects division. Bowl mill manufacturing was shifted to
Hyderabad unit and tech transfer agreement signed with CE for manufacture
of NIehard Rolls for the bowl mils at Hyd’bad unit foundry. Chennai port
clearance operations were transferred to a new R.O.D .An R& D division with
lab at Hyderabad was set up.

Next phase beginning in 1974 with Induction of Dr Sharan with a long


experience with Sulzers,as director technical, saw BHEL Trichy becoming an
R & D centre also in addition to a boiler manufacturing base. An R & D dept
was established with a lab and development of prototype Fluidised bed boiler
of 20 tons per hour taken up .The prototype which could run with poor

A Story in our own words Page 60


quality of coal not suitable for conventional boilers was built and operated in
1976.Subsequently several orders for FCB were received incl a prestigious
10 mw one from Tisco using their colliery rejects at Jamdoba colliery.

Inspection of non critical components were out sourced to IIQA .Plans were
initiated for expansion from 2000 mw/annum to 4000 mw with idea of
shifting Boiler auxiliaries to a new location.

A look back on office technology during those days …

It is now amusing to think that circulars to employees in those days were


printed using cyclostyling machines. Urgent external communication was
thro’ telex. Hotline was installed for communicating quickly with corporate
office in Delhi .Important developments were communicated to heads of the
department’s thro’ periodical meetings and they in turn communicated to
executives under them.

The year 1975 saw manufacture of CE design 200 m.w boilers starting with
new equipments installed. In the following year post of CEO’s of units were
upgraded to executive directors.

Stepping into EPC contracts and Trcihy unit’s role

BHEL obtained EPC contract for 2 nos 120 mw oil fired units in Tripoli west,
Libya on a turnkey basis including civil work with Trichy supplying boilers.
The boiler had to be manufactured under direct inspection of the consultants
Messrs Kennedy and Donkin. Trichy unit was also awarded rebuilding
contract for 4 nos of 60 mw oil fired units supplied from France which were
damaged in an explosion. Late Mr M.A.Hakim from Trichy was selected as
chief for this project execution at site. BHEL was also awarded another
turnkey contract on EPC basis by MSEB for their 210 mw power plant at
Parli. Again another Trichy executive Late Mr Rajkumar was given the huge
responsibility of executing the project –both first times by BHEL

Birth of seamless steel tube plant ….

As a step to vertical integration, plans for in house manufacture of seamless


tubes upto 100 mm dia was initiated along with CFFP at hardwar for castings

A Story in our own words Page 61


and forgings (make in India). Also trichy’s R& D complex expanded with
setting up Coal based atmospheric gasification plant, fuel testing facility and
DIPC-direct ignition of pulverised coal to reduce oil consumption.

Some steps towards social welfare…

A few major employee and social welfare measures were initiated at this
stage such as Arivalayam for mentally retarded children in township,
outsourcing some simple work to ladies welfare centre to help ladies in
township who were in need of some monetary help .Examples - making
envelopes, bread etc. Also occupational health centre to conduct studies on
hazards from working environment in various kinds of industries and
professions and prevention of the same was set up with aid from UNThe year
1977 saw piping operations shifted to Chennai with establishment of piping
centre and technical tie up with Mannemann seifert of germany. Except
fabrication of large diameter pipes in Trichy ,all other sizes were out
sourced.

Boiler drum for Libya was despatched by Libyan ambassador .Valves


technology changed to that of Dressers and Safety and safety relief valves
added to product mix. Incremental pipe bending of large size pipes
introduced for the first time in India. BHEL,Trichy became the first
manufacturing unit in India to get ASME symbol for manufacturing

NTPC – a demanding customer….

Establishment of NTPC posed new challenges to BHEL since their plants were
built with World Bank financing wherein offers from abroad were exempted
from customs duty. BHEL had to gear up to face competition from suppliers
abroad accordingly .Won the contracts for Singrauli, Korba and Farakka 200
mw units, but lost Ramagundam. Also entire execution from proposal till
commissioning had to be done under surveillance of NTPC with ex BHEL
executive Mr Sundara rajan heading their team.

Apart from contracts for boilers to elec boards ,contracts from several
private and govt owned companies in Steel (Rourkela,Vizag),Aluminium
(Hindalco,Nalco,Balco) Fertilisers (GNFC,RCF,MCF,NFL,FCI, etc), Petro
chemicals(SPIC,IPCL,GNFC) etc were also obtained both for captive power

A Story in our own words Page 62


and process steam. They were all executed to customers full satisfactionFirst
200 mw boiler at Obra was commissioned in 1978 .Contract for the first 500
mw unit in the country from Tata electric company at Trombay was obtained
.A year later production in SSTP started with technical know how from
Mannessman demag meer with push bench process followed by hot and cold
rolling and with blooms as feed stock. Ranipet was chosen as the site for
boiler auxiliaries and land acquisition initiated both for plant and township
with Mr ES.Chandrasekhar as leader.

Next major mile stone was establishment of W.R.I with UNESCO aid. An
8000 ton press from Germany with financial assistance from KFW, Germany
was selected to change drum forming from rolling to pressing in line with CE
practice

Successfull execution of turnkey contracts

1980 saw the Tripoli west 120m.w units commissioned after facing very
tough challenges, to the satisfaction of customer. Late R.S.Babu played a
major role in solving a crisis caused by leakage in boiler site welds during
commissioning, which would have caused embarrassment to BHEL.
Reconstructed French boilers were also commissioned. A few months later A
few months later Parli project(coal based inviloving more EPC work) was also
commissioned Employee strength at this time was about 18000.

1981-83

In 1981 NTPC scaled up their plants to 500 mw and again BHEL faced stiff
competition from suppliers abroad for it’s world bank aided projects .Bagged
Singrauli , Korba,Talcher and Ramagundam Concept of total quality control
from concept to commissioning was introduced along with training of
artisans on quality assurance under late P.N.Armugam’s guidance throh
quality circles,A separate valves business group was formed under GM- late
Mr R.Krishnamurty bringing different functions- engineering ,marketing
business development, materials management and manufacturing together
in this group to work as a team ,as in the earlier set up these functions
pertaining to valves ,tagged on to big brother boiler were not receiving due
attention affecting valves business growth. This had the desired effect of
substantially improving valves business.

A Story in our own words Page 63


200 mw Parli TPS in Maharashtra undertaken by BHEL as a turnkey, EPC
contract including civil works , supply, of BHEL and non BHEL equipments
,erection and commissioning was successfully completed and plant started
supplying power to the grid. The chief architect for this project was late mr
K.P.Rajkumar from Trichy unit .Satisfied with this MSEB awarded similar
turnkey contract for their Khaperkheda project a few years later

The present design of dampers in ducts were not fully closing and providing
100% isolation for equipment maintenance and this was one of the several
major customer complaints about BHEL equipments. Changing the design to
one of 100% closing gates from Messrs DDA of USA and replacing it in all
the sites helped to overcome this major complaint from customers and was
highly appreciated by them.

With commissioning of 8000 tons press changes in drum mfg took place-
shell pressing instead of rolling and sub arc welding instead of electro slag
welding which were in vogue for 15 years

Supply of 500 mw components to Tata electric at Trombay was completed to


the full satisfaction of the tough customer headed by Mr Chinnappa and Mr
Manektalla.

Improvement in plant load factor and customer confidence

With a large number of units operating Trichy unit had been facing a barrage
of complaints from customers, CEA etc on high downtime of the boilers
leading to low power production. Complaints went right upto Minister for
Power in Delhi .Frequent boiler outages were quite high resulting in low plant
load factor around 30-40%. Mainly tube failures, fast tube erosion ,fast ID
fan blade erosion, non performance of electro static precipitators, damper
leakages ,very fast wear of bowl mill rolls ,PA fan shaft breakage etc. A task
force set up consisting Messrs S.Sridharan, S,Ranganathan, A.Subramanyam
and A.V.Narayanan ,after systematic analysis of failures established major
cause for failures as poor quality of coal fed to boilers with high ash content
,Highly Abrasive ash ,Properties of coal fed to boiler different from what was
tested earlier and envisaged etc. Based on this analysis certain components

A Story in our own words Page 64


of boiler were redesigned to suit this coal-lower flue gas velocity, different
materials, different design parameters ,changes in component sizing ,higher
size ESP,PA fans converted to Radial etc. These changes resulted in weight
of a 200 mw which was about 8000 tons going up considerably. These
changes were incorporated both in new boilers as well as retro fitted in
excisting boilers without charging customer. As a result plant load factor
went up to around 65-70 % from earlier 30-40% and BHEL’s image got a
big boost in the eyes of GOI ,CEA,NTPC and all electricity boards .Since then
boilers operated quite smoothly and outages came down to what is to be
normal levels. In this regard BHEL should be thankful to Dr Tata Rao,
chairman APSEB and doyen of thermal plant operation.

Regular interaction thro’ systematic and organised meetings with all


customers particularly Electricity boards were initiated and became a regular
feature, some times overseen by Union minister of power. This enabled
valuable feedback and do course correction which improved customer
satisfaction and customer confidence on us.

Another major complaint on BHEL was prolonged erection time of boilers at


it’s sites. This was due to different erection sites following different erection
sequences of boiler and trichy’s supplies not matching their varied
requirement .Unwanted components lying at site and wanted components
not received. Here again a task force constituted with Mr B.M.Verma from
PPD and Krishnamachari from Trichy unit evolved a mutually agreed
sequence of erection and trichy unit planning it’s production and despatch
accordingly. This helped to speed up boiler erection considerablyOrders were
obtained from ONGC for regular supply of Christmas tree and well heads for
its’ various sites. First set was handed over a year later.

A separate plant for Boiler Auxilliaries…

The year 1984 saw Ranipet plant operation starting and Inaugurated by Sri
R.Venkataraman, the then vice president. Tower type boiler with no second
pass was designed jointly with stein industrie, france for Vijayawada TPS
phase 2,to reduce ash content going to ESP. Also concrete supporting
structures were used -idea of Dr N.Tata rao Contracts for retro fitting of in
house developed DIPC were received from Satpura and Vijayawada TPS to

A Story in our own words Page 65


save oil consumption. Higher size fluidised bed boiler design with Circulating
FBC developed along with a german company. Tie up with Toa valves, japan
for manufacture of higher size valves signed.

Remembering Mr Theobald

Mr S.L.Theobald ,long associated with Trichy plant ,first as Boiler inspector


at Trichy and then as chief inspector of boilers ,Tamil nadu at Chennai,
retired from service. He was associated over nearly 20 years with Trichy unit
and worked as if he was one of us, never delaying attending to any tests,
never delaying paper work, no red tapism, ready to come for inspection at
our beck and call etc. Trichy unit owes him a lot for it’s growth Business
from Trichy to other units and to Trichy from other units

IN 1985 with Hyderabad unit tying up with GE and getting into gas turbine
business both in India and abroad ,Trichy also got into matching HRSG
business, with a technical tie up with a Netherlands firm. Also developed
lignite fired boiler design jointly with EVT of Germany for the Nyeveli TPS
and later got a few more lignite fired boiler contract from Kutch lignite and
Rajasthan.

All these years Trichy unit’s business growth automatically helped


Bhopal Bangalore and Hyderabad units get additional business without
marketing efforts on their part by way of Motors, Furnace control systems
and bowl mills purchased from themBefore concluding ,it is worth touching
upon a few general observations-some positive and some negative, most
negatives corrected in due course

NEGATIVES

1. Starting with first tool down strike in 1969,till 1990’s there were frequent
Strikes, inspite of establishment of several committees with elected labour
representatives and nominated management personnel-Works committee,
Township committee, canteen committee, Joint committee with other BHEL
units etc to look into grievances .This was probably due to formation of multi
unions each affiliated to a political party and vying with each other for one
upmanship led by CITU affiliated union. Fortunately the work stoppages
were for short and for brief periods. After the opening of economy and

A Story in our own words Page 66


reforms initiated by PVN Rao an M.M.Singh in early 1990’ the unions
realised that for their own and company’s survival they had to ensure
smooth running of plant and work stoppages practically stopped as it
happened all over the country.

2. The 6 m.w atmospheric pressure coal gasification project started and


commissioned in 1970’s has remained stagnant even after 40 years. The
technology which would have given some solution to reducing CO2 emission
from coal based power plants thro’ scaling up and further studies, hasnot
been pursued further and appears to be practically given up.

POSITIVES

1. Excellent work culture ,working atmosphere in the plant very informal


,free communication ,no rivalry among executives/ supervisors to claim
success or pass on any failures , good understanding and informality
horizontally between depts. and vertically between different levels, all
working towards achieving objectives thro’ team work, absence of passing
bucks for any short comings etc-- Rare qualities to be seen in public
sectors.Executives were readily willing to stay beyond normal working hours
if neccesary and willing to work on Sundays also if needed.
Another positive point contributed to positive work culture was abolition of
govt laid out procedure of getting financial concurrence for every decision
involving financial expenses,but instead inclusion of a finance representative
in the committee, who also was responsible for ultimate outcome.This, gave
engineers freedom and flexibility to function and take quick decisions.

2. Life in township was all thro’ very peaceful and calm, isolated from
frequent agitations; bandhs etc causing hardships elsewhere in the country
.Most families knew each other. To relax after working hours various cultural
organisations frequently arranged entertainments, cultural programmes etc,
apart from officers club and community centre .All these factors enabled
employees to concentrate on work without much worries about family safety
From mid 1990’s what was once a barren town ship ,was converted to a
thick green forest with planting of 100’s of trees ,increasing CO2 absorption,
thanks to Mr S.N.Krishna’s initiative.

A Story in our own words Page 67


3. But looking back,a very major positive point was the quality of education
given to wards of employees by RSK and other schools which enabled most
of the wards to get admission in professional medical and engg colleges, and
grow up in their professional career smoothly .Quite a good number of the
wards have migrated to USA and other countries and well settled there.
Substantial improvement from generation to generation, thanks to the
township schools

A Story in our own words Page 68


Section -3
A view from the sidelines -
Sivaraman

A Story in our own words Page 69


THOUGHTS OF SHRI S.SIVARAMAN ABOUT BHEL

Preface
The thought of writing the history of BHEL occurred to me long back. I had
shared my views with some of my close colleagues. I made some beginning
while I was in Administration but I could not proceed due to personal
constraints. In fact a man came from Corporate and held discussions with
some senior officials in Tiruchy, but nothing came out of it. Perhaps the
project was aborted. A new impetus was given recently by an erstwhile
colleague and I have started on an exploration of the past - of course
with trepidation and doubt about my ability to do adequate justice,
especially due to my own personal limitations, a fading memory
(particularly about dates , years), etc.

I begin with a warning. This narrative is purely based on my memory and I


have no records with me to lay my hands on. I have left all my collections
at BHEL itself - except for my personal papers.

.........may lack cogency and not strictly chronological.

It is purely based on my personal perceptions - may be colored and biased to


a certain extent,though I shall try to be as objective as possible.Even though
I may drop some names - those of living and dead - my aim is to write about
the organization as such and not about individuals, even though the
organization itself is nothing but a collection of individuals. Again I may
delineate elaborately on certain aspects and I may altogether leave certain
aspects. I do not have a clear plan at this stage - whether to go strictly
according to sequence of events or take one aspect and exhaust all of what I
feel. This account may not be entirely based on my first-hand knowledge,
but may be interspersed with what others had told me and which I felt to be
true, though I cannot vouchsafe for its authenticity and objectivity. I am
careful about this - but others may differ - but as I have no axe to grind, any
such statements may be ignored or accepted at its discounted value.

I think it may not be possible to avoid using 'I' in this reminiscence. But in
the final edition this will be discarded by the editors.(We have chosen NOT to
do this !- Ed)

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Finally a word: Post retirement, people are forgotten. In fact the erstwhile
colleagues avoid the

Retirees.I am flattered that some officials of BHEL still think of me as capable


of this effort.

I do not want to speculate at this stage as to the purpose to which this


history (after publication at a distant date) would be put to use, whether by
researchers of "PSUs", 'Organizations' or by future generations of executives
of BHEL. 'History repeats itself' is the adage. But it may not repeat
in the same fashion - in the same way. It may appear in a different hue,
with a different mask, with a different dress or make up. Only a discerning
and a keen student or observer may relate the 'present' with the past and be
able to take appropriate lessons from the past, apply those lessons to the
present to avoid the pitfalls or recognize the opportunities. Yesterday when
a friend telephoned and discussed about this project, he emphasized that
this should be organization - centric and not personality centric. He also
told me that BHEL is now passing through a critical stage in its
growth and development. It has overcome the initial problems of
globalization and liberalization and has received several bulk orders which
will keep it in a comfortable position for the next few years. But he
anticipated that with the retirement of several senior officials in the next
three years, there may be a dearth of talented and experienced manpower
capable of steering the organization further and keep the momentum. This
concern is genuine and should be addressed. But so long as the organization
is dynamic and has clear goals, it generally throws up executives of caliber.
But always there are some who are good, some bad, some indifferent, some
talented but perverted. 'After Nehruwho?’ was the perennial question in
the 60s.History of the Indian nation has provided the answer. Men may
come, men may go but the organization goes on and on. But this question
and other related questions are to be studied exhaustively by HR Experts
and a road map laid for development (after due process of screening and
identification) of individual with potential to lead and guide. But this is
another matter, among many others; this 'history' may trigger discussion.

This preamble has become long in spite of my efforts to keep it short. The
same fate may be expected to the narrative also. But I pray your

A Story in our own words Page 71


indulgence. As for the narrator itself, I have spoken in dots and dashes - in
shorthand and had only indicated certain aspects - certain trends, certain
characteristics and some of the problems faced during early years. It needs
elaboration by persons of competence. This narrative is neither chronological
nor on the basis of Divisions/Departments.

I first heard of a big factory coming up at Tiruverumbur in the early sixties.


I was then working in the Personnel Department of the Railway Workshop at
Golden Rock. It was a very good Work Shop - the best layout, I was told.
It employed about 6000 workers. There was one Personnel Officer and One
A.P.O assisted by about 50 clerical staff. The work at the Office was routine
and hence dull. I was looking for a change. I cycled to Tiruverumbur with my
friend to see the new factory. I could see nothing from the road, except
heaps of earth. Then I read in papers about the inauguration of the Training
Centre by the Three Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and
Kerala . Other offices were functioning at the Ceylon Immigration Office at
Subramaniapuram.When there was an advertisement in the papers calling
for applications for the posts of Sr. and Jr. Stenographers for HE(I) Ltd,
Tiruverumbur, I submitted the application through Proper Channel (GM,
Southern Railway, Madras) with a Postal Order for Rs.21.! It was not
forwarded to HE(I) Ltd and when I checked up with HE{I)L, the selection
was over. Perhaps it was in 1963. Within a few months, there was another
advertisement and I responded again. This time I was called for the written
examination. This may be in early 64 and the Offices had moved to the
temporary shedsin the site. Roughly the location is just opposite to the
Rolled Product Stores (then it was the Construction Stores) and where now
the OHS buildings are located.(Only one shed is still intact and used as the
place to keep exhibits safely).There were about 7 to 8 asbestos sheds.

The offices were : PA(Project Administrato..- - Shri R.S.Krishnan's Office),


Dy PA (Shri P.V.K.Achan's Office), Plant Designs (headed by Shri
Ramasubramanian), Services {Electrical etc.) headed by V.K.V.Menon,
Personnel, Finance, Canteen (by Delights of Tiruchy) and Bank- SBI, Pay
Office, some open space for ball badminton and Toilet Complex. This was
all. The other senior officials were:
V.Ananthakrishnan, Supdt I Training, P.T. Venugopal, FA & CAO P.Sivan,
ADO /Establishment,
P.A.Menon, Asst Supdt

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HRS Rao, Supdt./ Lab.

Most of the senior officers were housed at the Kajamalai Colony. There were
many Czech Consultants. But when I came to write the shorthand / Type
writing examination, I came to the Personnel Department and I knew only
about the canteen in which only Vada and Cool Drinks were available. About
230 / 260 candidates appeared for the test on Dictation,which was in
batches.Mr.P.A. Menon dictated apassage from The Discovery ofIndia
{which I had read - even owned two copies - paperback edition by
Higginbotham’s, Price: - Rs.4.50!). I had a speed of 100 words/minute. So I
found it easy. After some weeks, I was called for the interview. Mr.Menon
and Mr.Sivan were in the Committee.I was selected. I resigned my job in
Railways and joined HIM (I) Ltd on 25.04.64. I was drawing Rs.128/- in
Railways. My pay in HE (I) L was fixed at Rs.130/-. For the benefit of
Rs.2/- I had resigned a Central Govt job with free pass/pension facility!

Leaving aside the personal aspects, let me go into other details about HE
(I)L at that time. Heavy Electricals (India) Ltd was one of the many PSUs
established in pursuance of the Industrial Policy of Govt. of India (1956) to
enter the Core manufacturing activities to promote industrial development in
the country. Steel was given the first priority. HElL had itsHead Office in
Bhopal where it had a Plant. At that time, if Iremember correct,
Mr.Swayambu was the CMD. In early 60s, it was decided to establish three
manufacturing facilities at Tiruchy, Hyderabad and Hardwar. Tiruchy Plant
was built with the Technical Collaboration with Skoda and Czech assistance.
Tamil Nadu Govt. under Kamaraj took great pain to bring the Plant to
Tiruchy in the midst of claims from other States. Tamil Nadu Govt allotted
some 2000 Acres (?) between Tiruverumbur and Navalpattu. Originally, it
is learnt that TN Govt offered -the land where now the OFT is situated.
Only later the present location was decided and the land given to HElL
for a price (consideration) of Re.1/-. Mr.V.R.D was the person (who was
then working in the Industries & Commerce Department of Madras Govt.)
who was nominated to coordinate with HElL on matters of site selection etc.
Then HElL appointed Mr.R.S.Krishnan (who was the Chief Mechanical
Engineer of Indian Railways and working with the Durgapur Steel Plant) as
Project Administrator and Mr.P.V.K.Achan (the Divisional Engineer, S.Riy,
Tiruchy) as Dy P.A. Mr.V.K. coordinated the activities at the Head Office
level. When RSK moved to Tiruchy (perhaps he spent some time with an

A Story in our own words Page 73


Office in Delhi), the team visited Czechoslovakia to finalize the Project
Report, etc. How and for what reason, the Czech collaboration was chosen by
the Govt. HElL is not known to me. But it seems that CE/USA and other
boiler manufacturers refused to collaborate with an unknown Indian
company. At that time ACC-Vickers - Babcock was manufacturing boilers in
Durgapur. The Czech could offer technology for 60 and 100/110 MW boilers
with credit facilities and on rupee payment. Also the Central Govt. at that
time had encouraged trade relations with Russianand other EastEuropean -
Govt. owned companies (. Engineers were recruited and given language
training (Czech language).Later they were sent to CSSR for training on the
various aspects -product, design, manufacture, services, etc. The
establishment of Training Centre as the very first activity shows the
importance attached to HR (the term was not in vogue then).Artisans with
ITI qualification in various trades were recruited and trained. Mr.Antony
Dorai from Alagappa Engineering College, Karaikudi was assisting
Mr.Ananthakrishnim.

Besides the new recruits, engineers from Steel Plants, Civil Engineers from
Railways and PWD joined, some on deputation. The bulk of Accounts people
came from Railways and some from Defense Accounts.

It was a mixture of different cultures in the beginning - predominantly from


Railways and the Steel Plants. The bulk of civil supervisors who were surplus
at Bhopal where the construction work was over, came on transfer to
Tiruchy.BG lines were laid and a separate line from Golden Rock was
laid to bring construction materials and heavy machinery. These were
utilized later for dispatch of boiler components to power stations. It was a
period of hectic activity. When I joined, part of Building -1 had been
completed, work on Buildings 5 & 6 had been taken up. Construction work
of the Factory and Township was going on. Several Czech experts had
come and were living in the Township around the Czech Club (present
Kailasapuram Club}.Facilities by way of transport and communication were
minimum. There were a few buses from Tiruchy Junction to Thuvakudi.
Town buses stopped at Tiruverumbur While machinery erection was under
Mr.M.R.Naidu, Mr.Hakim was in charge of cranes. A full-fledged
Metallurgical Lab was under construction and Mr.HRS Rao was its Supdt.
Recruitment was going on in full swing. The Company had a few jeeps and
2/3 buses. I was living with my brother in Golden Rock and in the absence

A Story in our own words Page 74


of bus service, I was cycling daily from Golden Rock to Factory.I tried once
or twice to come by train. It was difficult. I was posted to Gas Services Dept
under T.P.Raja who was reporting to Mr.V.K.V.Menon. Raja was from Steel
Plant, Durgapur. M/s.Ramasubramanian, Hakim, Sridhar were also from
Durgapur.
Mr.RSK was a no-nonsense, hard task master. He had asthma but he
ignored it. He used to smoke pipe. He was a father figure, a good pen-man
with a good command over language, an all-round personality - a
technocrat , a good administrator, a product of Jamalpur where the
special class apprentices of Railways are given on-the-job training, a down-
to-earth man, he encouraged sports in the campus (he used to participate
in the Tug of war event), he used to drive the Jeep/car himself, while
travelling to Madras - (There is a photograph where he drove the Jeep to
take Dr.Zakir Hussain around the Factory).wore khaki full pant and half
sleeve shirt tucked in. When the 4-Roll bending m/c (in Drum Shop) arrived
in a Railway wagon for erection, he took charge to unload the heavy rolls
from the wagon. He gave directions from the shop floor to the crane
operators (I was a witness to this).There is also photograph where he was
seen operating a Lathe to mark the inauguration of Production. His
unquestionable integrity and his leadership qualities were his strengths. He
was not respecter of persons just because they are in authority.

I remember at least three of his famous circulars which impressed me:

After a walk through the Township, he found that there were no recreational
activities, even though open spaces between blocks had been provided. Next
day he issued a circular emphasizing the need for activities which will ensure
the physical fitness of employees.

Next circular, he narrated the story of Abu Ben Adam. I do not remember
now in what connection he narrated the story.

The third entitled "Poison Pen" on anonymous letters received by him. (I


wish these were preserved for the posterity. I still hope the files of
Administration Department in the Archives may contain these circulars).

One GA (Graduate Apprentice -the term used before the term Engineer
Trainee was introduced) told me that he was called by RSK one day to his

A Story in our own words Page 75


room. He was shown an anonymous complaint received by RSK against that
person. He asked him to read the letter and in his presence RSK then tore
it and threw the pieces into the waste paper basket. But now vigilance would
have been asked to enquire and report!

Once he came to Works Manager's (K.G.Belliapa) Office and after a few


minutes called me and dictated a letter to an Officer in the Railways
about some electrode. The letter (as was his wont) was addressed by the
first name (or pet name) of the recipient.

When he dictated the name of the electrode, he spelled it to me, knowing


that I may not know the spelling of the word. He did not stand on
formalities. He was direct in his approach. He attended a General Body
Meeting of the BHEL Employees Co-operative Stores (later closed) and
sitting at the last row was seen solving the cross word puzzle. He used to
walk up to REC or walk round the township. He used to attend the mass on
the Christmas and New-year eve ( I was told by one of the Christian
officers) and sometimes take his wife to the temple and wait outside
for her. When his daughter's marriage was conducted in his house (now
VVIP GH) he invited all the employees above a certain grade.( I also
attended the evening reception). He dressed in Panchakacham and applied
Tilak (Javvadu) to the invitees. (There was a photograph of this also).

The project cost was Rs.23/- Crores. There was a saving in the Project cost
and the project was completed on time. Mr.PVK Achan, the Dy PA who was
in charge of construction activities, told me on a later occasion, that many
innovations were adopted to save time and cost. Flooring work and work on
roofing of the shops were undertaken simultaneously - saving time. When
the final cost figures were scrutinized by Bureau of Public Enterprises, it
could not believe the very low cost. The cost was lower than that of Bhopal,
executed a decade back. The shop floor concreting was so strong that when
a girder (crane girder) fell from a height of 30' there was no damage (This
happened when we were housed temporarily in Building V Annexe and
when a beam girder was being hoisted manually by Moplah gang of the
erection contractor). Generally flooring work was undertaken after the
roofing work was over.

A Story in our own words Page 76


Project Planning had anticipated future expansions also. When after several
years waterlines were laid for MHD, etc. the existing mains were found
sufficient.

Company Bus picked up employees' wards to schools in Tiruchy Employees


was picked up at Tiruverumbur station. But public transport had not picked
up till much later. But employees could hire Company car / bus for personal
use. Employees combined to go to Tiruchy to see movies andreturn.Cars
were used to pick up &drop at station at reasonable charges.But a policy
decision was taken not to run company buses to pick up and drop employees
fromdifferent localities. Bangalore model was not adopted after great
deliberation. Houses in the Township were allotted to Departments
and the Departments recommended the names based on work
requirement. Employees weregrouped as Technical and non-Technical and
separate seniority was maintained, later when a common pool of houses
was adopted in preference to departmental allocation. Again though single
storey houses were built earlier, later houses with first floor were built. NLC
was the only major PSU in Tamil Nadu at that time and BHEL learnt some
lessons from it. Learning from the experience of other PSUs was a major
factor in finalizing the Policies of the Company.

It was a heterogeneous group- people drawn from various departments of


Govt and private firms were working together. There was a large pool of
knowledge and experience with different cultures merged and a new
(BHEL) Tiruchy culture evolved. Officers in the Railways were (in their
offices in Railways) very much conscious of their rank. But here they
worked shoulder to shoulder with the lowest grade worker. May be it was
because of the environment surrounding a construction site. But accounts
people were a unique lot. But the basic discipline in respect of construction
like ‘M’ book, tender procedures were strictly followed. 'Trust but verify' was
followed. At the stage of site leveling work, (prior to construction) there
was some misdemeanor by some contractors and some PWD engineers and
there was a case in the court later. I don't remember any BHEL staff was
involved in the case.

More than a hundred engineers were trained in CSSR in the factories


of the collaborators. Mr.V.R. Rama Prasad was the Chief. He spent more
than a year in CSSR. Training was on the design and manufacture of boiler

A Story in our own words Page 77


components and valves. The period of training varied according to areas of
specialization.

When I joined in April, 64, the Engineers had started returning from CSSR.
About to 7/8 Engineers joined Services Department, 2 in Gas Services and
others in Electrical.

Most of the shop floor machines were imported from CSSR under the
collaboration. There was a joke circulating that the price was based on the
weight of the machine. The Artihma machines were for data processing.
Even printing (Press) machines were included.

There was a sea of difference between what I was doing in the Railways
(even though it was a workshop) and here. I could not forget the first day.
As soon as I joined, I was asked to come to the room (small corner room in
the AC Shed with an A/C struggling to cool the hot April air) of
Supdt/Services, Mr.V.K.V.Menon, Mr.Raja was also there. They started
dictating the Specification (for Tender form) of the Acetylene Plant. I had
never heard of the word Acetylene and many other Technical terms. Typing
drafts after drafts in the mechanical typewriter and then cutting stencils,
taking copies, arranging - this work continued for several days. But both
Mr.Menon and Mr.Raja were kind. Raja was jovial. In his room he will
offer me cigarette and when I refused he will taunt me: 'You don't smoke
;why don't you sing a song', jokingly.He guided me gently and I learnt
from him the rudiments of the purpose, function and role of Gas Services in
the overall factory context. The same thing for Oxygen and Producer Gas
Plants. The compressors were a simpler affair. Then, the Engineers, after
training, Mr.V.Venkateswaran (who later moved to Production Engineering
and died in harness) and S.Narayanan joined us. I was the only
office staff for Gas Services. Services (mainly Electrical) was a bigger affair
with about 8/10 ladies and two stenos.

Factory electrification wasmainly done by GEC. Gas/air pipelines were done


by Stewarts and Lloyds - site fabrication and erection.
Then came the Recruitment of operators for Gas Plants - whether
to recruit Engineering Diploma holders or Science graduates was a
matter for consideration and discussion. Finally Science graduateswere

A Story in our own words Page 78


decided upon for operation and Mechanical Diploma Holders as Supervisors
for maintenance.

The factory was inaugurated by Vice President Dr.Zakir Hussain on


01.05.1965. The function was held in the First Bay of Building-1. Sweet
packets were distributed to all the employees. In the evening there was a
dance drama by Kalakshetra Troupe in the open auditorium of the
Community Centre.

Shri VKV. Menon was very methodical in his work. He used to go round the
factory and when the tapals {Dak) were put up on his table (around 30 to
40 letters a day), he will call his steno and dictate replies to all the letters
and at one stretch! Absolutely nothing was kept pending.

The highlight of the pre-production activities was that everyone was busy on
their toes – the Engineers, clerical staff, the accountants, the training
staff. There was no dull moment. The group I worked with was compact,
most with some experience. Eager to put forward their best and to learn.
Firm foundations were laid for a positive, energetic work culture. Most of the
staff except the Contractors' workers, drivers and others - were white
collared and dedicated. Ego problems were not yet evident, no comparisons,
no promotions yet. There was a healthy competitive spirit, each vying with
the other to complete the job on hand. The job was new,the place was new
with little distractions and there was challenge.Finally the employees were
seeing with their own eyes the factory coming up - the change in the skyline
- the open spaces within and without being filled up with new machines and
structures.

The first new year greeting card was designed and drawn by RSK himself. It
was a caricature of RSK with a big belly with a message: "I shall deliver a
boiler soon" or words to that effect. Construction and erection were going
on. All the three production blocks (1, V & VI) were built and equipped and
the Annexes were getting ready.It was an exciting phase and everyone was
possessed. Typing had to be done on manual typewriters and the same
matter had to be typed several times.

It was physically exhausting. STD was not yet introduced only Trunk calls
had to be booked and every one was shouting into the mouth piece;

A Story in our own words Page 79


audibility was poor.Working under asbestos sheets during the summer
months and later when the westerlies blew with vigor throwing sand in the
eyes and into the office- all were endured and accepted without complaints.
I had written about RSK's circulars. I just now remember one more and I
add it here lest I forget: He was going round the inward Stores area. There
the bolts and nuts were being counted and SS Tubes measured for length.
He issued a circular that the bolts and nuts may beweighed and S S Tubes
rolled over measured slopes and length judged. Nothing escaped his eyes
and no work was mean. He was a workaholic tempered with humor and a
down to earth disposition. I was a distant admirer way below in hierarchy
and a non-technical man; should get several anecdotes from his closest
colleagues who are still his admirers.

There was some tussle (not cold war) between the PA and the FA&CAO -
both Titans. FA&CAO Mr.P.T.Venugopal never considered himself subordinate
to the PA. He never got his leave sanctioned by the PA.He only kept him
informed. Whenever there was difference of opinion between the PA and
FA&CAO the matter was referred to the Chairman for his
decision.Mostly it may be a difference of opinion on vital matters with
financial implications. Later when I had a brief stint in the office of
GM/Finance, before moving to ED's Office, I had occasions to go through
papers relating to such differences and the reference to the Chairman. But
the working relationship between the two was perfect, cordial. Each
recognized the knowledge and the authority of the other. Each was sure of
their own strengths and sure of their correctness of their respective stand.
It is not the question of who was big but who was right and ultimately
what was good for the organization. But in many matters- not so
serious in his opinion- the FA&CAO made his remarks /comments and did
not precipitate the issue. Besides the technical training in CSSR for
Engineers, many officers were sent to NITIE, Bombay for training in
various aspects of management. About 40 to 50 executives were sent in
batches as production activities had not picked up. The FA&CAO
felt that we should select people with experience in various areas /
fields rather than recruiting freshers and sending them to training at
Company's expense. But Shri RSK stood his ground as he was convinced
that training in the latest tools of management was necessary and
even for persons with experience in one area may be trained in an allied
area so that his efficiency may increase. This continued for some time till

A Story in our own words Page 80


our own Training Centre was ready to train our executives in house. (At that
time Training Centre was busy in training Artisans in various trades for
engagement on the shop floor. There were several batches of Artisan
trainees. Many of them would have retired by now).

The scale of pay at that time was almost on par with Govt. of India pay
scales with a marginal variation. The designations for officers were as
under:
Administration Officer -
Accounts Officer Assistant Engineer Rs.400- 950
Asst. Supdt. Rs.750 - 1250
Superintendent Rs.1300 - 1600
PA, Dy PA, FA&CAO were on deputation. Prior to 1.9.65 there were
Superintendents only in Training Centre (Ananthakrishnan) Central Lab (HRS
Rao) and Services (VKV. Menon).
On 1.9.65, the following were promoted from Asst Supdt to Supdt
V.R. Deenadayalu (General)
Ramasubramanian (PEIIED)
Nagappa (MSTR)
Sawhney (Valves)
Hakim I Cranes
M.R.Naidu I Erection (M&S)
D.Jayachandran (Medium & Light Fabrication)
H.L.Prabhakar (Heavy Fabrication)
ASN. Rao, Lab and K.P.Rajkumar (Transport) and Abdul Azeez. (Eiec - later
Data Processing) were promoted to Dy Supdt. (1100 - 1400) grade - a newly
introduced scale of pay.

(As the increase in pay for the promotes from AS to Supdt. was more than
Rs.300 p.m., they were given an increase of Rs.300/- and after one year
fixed at the minimum of the grade viz. Rs.1300/- as per GOI rules!).

There were discussions about the promotion Policy. Some of the staff who
joined earlier to me was promoted to the next higher grade after one year of
service.Then it was decided that the promotions would be after 18 months of
service. I appeared for the Sr. Steno test after 18 months.

A Story in our own words Page 81


In the meantime, around August, 65, a Works Manager was brought on
deputation from Railways. He was Mr.K.G.Belliappa. He was working as Dy
Chief Mechanical Engineer in the Chittaranjan LOCO Works. I was posted to
his office as Jr. Steno.His office was the present WM's Conference Hall
in 2 & 4. The present WM's room was occupied by Mr.Drapal, the Czech
counterpart of the WM.I was sitting in the space in between the two rooms.
There were many Czech Consultants - each attached to a particular
functional area. At that time, CSSR was under the control of USSR. There
was some sort of uprising at that time. The Consultants were reserved. I did
not know whether they enjoyed their freedom here. Conversation in English
was difficult. It was slow and halting. I wanted to know more about their
country from the Asst to Mr.Drapal. But nothing I could learn.

Mr.Belliappa was a strict disciplinarian. He became notorious even in the first


few months. He came to Office early (around 7.50 am) and used to stand in
one of the gates. He just collected the tokens of employees who came after
8 AM. Punching had not been introduced then. The collected tokens would
be given to the HOD. I was coming by cycle from Golden Rock till I was
allotted quarters in the Township. One morning I was a bit late and when I
crossed the space in front of the main canteen, WM saw me and just asked
me what the time was. It was 8.02 or 8.05. I told him. With just a stare
he went away. That was the first and last time I had come to the Office late .
Later it was always 7.55 or 7.57 at the latest. Once I heard him telling:
"When the work starts at 8 am, it means, you start working at 8 am. Not
arriving at 8 am. You should come early, make preparations like cleaning
the machine, change clothes, getting the tools, etc. and the Work should
start at 8 am. Unless you come early, this is not possible".

I had skipped some events in between. The office timings during


construction stages were 9 am to 5 pm. Later there was some discussion
whether to adopt Golden Rock timings of 7 am 11.30 am and 1 to 5 pm with
half a day on Saturdays. But it was finally decided to have the 8 - 4.30
timings with Saturday full working day. For some time it was 44 hours a
week. But it was increased to 48 hours a week. Whether to have a different
timing for Bulding-24 staff was also considered. This idea was also
dropped. It was decided to have uniform timings for effective functioning.
Building-19 canteen was opened. One Mr.Menon was the Manager.Food
items were served untouched by hands. Ice creams and Sweets were

A Story in our own words Page 82


available on all days for 25 paisa each. We could get sweets I vadai etc. and
carry them home.

The Design engineers started to come back from CSSR. Like theCzech
experts, each one of the Czech- returned design engineer carried a bag.
It was almost a status symbol. We do not know what the bags contained
(cats!).
Mr.Belliappa used to go to shop floor directly from his 'duty' at the Gate.
He will come to his office only at 11.30 am. He will go home for lunch at 12
noon and came to Office by 1 pm. He will stay in the office till 5 pm.On my
joining his office (only one Attendant was available) he asked me whether I
was married when I said 'No', he asked my age. I was 27. He said that I
should marry soon!

(I was promoted as Sr. Steno on 1.9.65 and the betrothal had taken place
on the same day! - just after a few days, after my boss 'ordered' me to
marry.)

Mr.Belliappa told me to maintain in the Office only TWO files - NOT MORE
THAN TWO, he emphasized. He hated paper work. After one year he asked
me how many files I had. It was three- one more than what he wanted. He
will return most of the papers - IOMs - back to the sender with his remarks
in red ink.

He held two meetings every week - one on machine erection and the
other on production. He used to order coffee from the canteen and paid the
cost from his pocket. He used to give me a cheque every month as an
imprest for his personal expenses. The monthly canteen bill was paid out of
this personal imprest cash.I submitted an account every month.

He insisted not to have any minutes of the meeting and he wanted to work
based on mutual trust. He was also a product of Jamalpur Workshop.

He took some drastic decisions. He closed some private canteens


functioning inside the Factory where some workers were found during
working hours. He also regularized the canteen timings, tea points, tea
timings, etc. He wanted that no lady should work inside the factory
premises. Many lady clerks were transferred to Bldg-24. He walked every

A Story in our own words Page 83


inch of the Factory every day and held discussions on the shop
floor.On many papers his endorsement would be: "Discuss at the shop
floor". He did not like one department writing to the other with copy to the
WM. "Why don't you discuss and sort out issues" was his comment. He
considered the paper work unproductive and caused delays.

One important decision taken at that time was the rotation of


supervisors and engineers among the departments - Training, Production
and Inspection.

Mr.Belliappa was sent to CSSR for three months. (He had entrusted to me
the jewels for safe custody). He met V.R.Rama Prasad in Prague. He had
told VRR: "My steno is free. You can utilize his services till I return".
When Mr.Rama Prasad told me about this, I joined his office unofficially and
worked for a few days. But as he was given a stenographer and I reverted
to my office. He did not want me to remain idle during his absence.

When the work of typing (cutting stencils) Inspection Instructions was


getting delayed for want of Typists, WM ordered V.G.Jagannath to send all
the papers to me for typing. I typed about 50 to 60 pages of these
instructions.

When the typing of TCs was delayed in Central Lab., he asked HRS Rao to
send the TCs to me for typing. He found in me a willing worker and knew
that I had not much of work. Again he did not want the departments to offer
excuses for not delivering in time. For some time this continued and after
that it stopped. The HODs realized that they can ask their stenos also to
work as Typists when the occasion demanded. Previously the stenos did not
want to do the job of a Typist!

One major incident I should mention. There was some request from HO for
making some collection for drought / flood relief in the Northern States. PA
had issued an appeal to all the employees and asked Admn. to place hundi
boxes at different location for employees to drop their contribution.
Accordingly, the staff from Administration had placed Hundi boxes inside the
Factory buildings. WM had seen the boxes and immediately called the
Admin. Staff and questioned them. They showed him the PA's Circular. He
ordered them to remove all the boxes from the factory and put them in his

A Story in our own words Page 84


office. When they hesitated he told them he will speak to the PA. All the
hundi boxes came to our office. He later told me that he was against any
such collection in the factory as there may be such claims from others and
ultimately lead to indiscipline and I wonder any other man would have dared
to defy RSK's orders. Perhaps RSK himself did not make an issue of it. The
boxes went back to Bldg-24. This was the first and last attempt to place
hundis in the factory.
There was an agitation by the Artisan trainees in the Training Centre and
there was tea boycott in the factory on the day of RSK's daughter's
marriage. W M felt very sorry and shared his anguish with me for choosing
that day for the agitation.

Model Discipline and Appeal Rules was circulated to HODs. Jayachandran


suggested that the powers to suspend an employee should rest with his
immediate superior officer even though he may not be the authority
empowered to remove him from service, as suspension on some occasions
could brook no delay. This was accepted.

By this time the suggestion scheme had been introduced. In each building
suggestion boxes were located with forms nearby. Admin was responsible for
collection of the forms and for evaluation. I found that in some departments
separate personal files were being maintained for employees in the
department. I considered this a duplication as individual personal files were
maintained by the Personnel Branch. I put up a suggestion for abolition of
such a system. This was accepted by the PA and a Reward of Rs.25/- (what
an amount in 60s) was given.

One major job work was received from Hindustan Photo Films, Ooty. It had
received a big drum from Germany and its surface was damaged. Instead of
re-exporting and getting it repaired by the suppliers, it was sent to our
Factory. The big highly polished drum was loaded in the lathe in the drum
shop. The work was finished and it received appreciation. The cheque
received from HPF was enlarged and was exhibited in the Sr.Conference
Hall.

"Standard Hour'' was the measurement/yardstick to measure shop


production. How many standard Hours of job was completed was reported

A Story in our own words Page 85


to WM/PA There was some attempt to cook up the figures by an HOD and
this received sharp reprimand from the WM.

During this time GAs were recruited directly for Tiruchy and the first batch of
15 joined for a 2 year training. They received only a stipend of Rs.400/- and
no DA etc. (as is the practice now).Pattabhiraman, PLR, G.R.Krishnamurthy,
Chinnadurai, Vasudevan, Narayana Bhatt, Ibrahim, R.Krishnamurthy (WRI)
are some of the names I could recollect.
I should mention before I forget that staff numbers were given in the early
days - starting with RSK as No.0001, Mr.Achan 0002 and so on. My no. was
1876. I also forgot to mention the death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
in May, 64 for which a condolence meeting was held. Chinnadurai and
Ibrahim were sent for short term commission to the Army (during Chinese
War?).They returned as captains. It was part of the Agreement (with GAs)
that they should accept such a deputation.

Services Dept. first moved to Bldg.-V annexes and later to Bldg-2 & 4. Bldg-
24 was completed and Accounts and Admin, Purchase also moved in.
"Sales"' was headed by two Sales Officers (Not commercial, not marketing
but just Sales). One Mr.Santhanam and Mr.Cavinathan were the Sales
Officers. There were only 3 floors and the IV Floor with the seminar hall was
added later.

Before I proceed further I would make mention of parallel developments in


other areas. It was decided bythe Co. Administration that no land would be
allotted for construction of temple (church or mosque) within the Township.
But a parcel of land was out of the CO's boundary and was poromboke land
(the present temple location). At first a Pillayar was 'found' on the banks of
the lake (opposite to the present temples, across the road. Slowly it
attracted devotees and a thatched shed was put up. We used to bring
flowers to this temple from day one. Later the land was assigned by the
Revenue Department to Sath Sangh for construction of the temple. Later
Ayyappan, Murugan and Adi Parasakthi temples were built one by one. When
the place for church and mosque were demanded the specified area was
given back to the Govt. and the community got it from the Govt.
In 64/65 there was a meeting of employees held in a hotel (Ashok?) in
Tiruverumbur for the formation of a Union. I also attended the meeting
Mr.M.Meenakshisundaram attended the meeting. There it was decided to

A Story in our own words Page 86


form a union with no affiliation to the political parties or the central trade
unions. It was to be a non-political union. Some months later, WM asked me
my opinion about Meenakshisundaram. I told him about his intention to start
a non-political union and I found him sincere and serious about the union
away from the political party influences. WM told me the management was
thinking about the recognition of a Union. I told him we should favor such a
union with no political party affiliation. It is history that Boiler Plant
Employees Union under Meenakshisundaram was the only recognized union
for a long time, till the Joint Committee was formed and elections held for
representatives from different unions. Four unions were recognized later.
This created inter union rivalries in spite of the obvious advantage the
management had because of the division (instead of unity) among the work
force. But it would be a temporary gain. Like a responsible opposition, a
single union with the backing of a majority of the workers would add to the
strength of the management.It is a moot point why when the election to the
Joint Committee were held even unions which got 10% and above of
the votes were recognized.May be for strategic reasons. Only persons like
Mr.A.P.Ayyapa - the most successful and a perfect model of a head of
Personnel - can throw light on this issue.That was a very crucial decision at
the highest level.HRexperts can take this up as a case study. But right or
wrong, now it may be difficult to undo it or change the practice and restrict
the recognition only to one union which has a majority vote in the
elections. Now more than the politicization of the unions, it is also divided on
caste basis. Whenever there was a split in the political party a similar split
took place in the trade unions at the micro level. A separate study/
research/ treatise on the trade union movement in BHEL, Tiruchy would
be a useful addition while the history is written. In terms of man days lost
due to disruption by the trade unions, Tiruchy's record would be most
enviable. In spite of a large number of unions and lack of
independence for the unions themselves (from the central/party leadership
on crucial issues - especially unions like CITU affiliated one) and severe
intra/inter union rivalries, Tiruchy management has been successful in
steering the company towards achieving its national goals- by adopting
mostly fair means; may be by placating / yielding when times demanded.
Even though one or two trade union leaders were terminated / transferred
(Vivekanandan, Aravindakshan)- certainly not for their union activities, by
and large the management had adopted from the beginning, very
correct means, even at times when the union members indulged in violence

A Story in our own words Page 87


or were unreasonable and unyielding. The management was indulgent,
granted the reasonable demands, bargained hard and on matters vital or of
principle firm. The 'carrot-mostly' and 'stick-rarely' policy had paid rich
dividends. In spite of protests, demonstrations, strikes, fasts, etc. they came
back to the table for negotiations.The main reason is that they were aware
of their weakness. Majority of the workers were non-unionized, even at the
lowest level -even though they may vote, participate in some token
acts of protests, they felt that the management was reasonable and fair.
They did not like any confrontation, or the agitation to prolong. Perhaps it is
the culture of the place - south in general. Even the TU leaders who were
very vociferous in the gate meetings and abused the management, they
were careful in not damaging the fabric. In private, they appreciated the
problems of the management. Management perfectly understood the need
for such a rhetoric and strong language at the gate meetings - as the need
of the unions to survive in a highly competitive field. It was mere sound
and fury to make their presence felt. Even at the worst times ,low ebb in
the relations - the gate meetings attracted hardly 100 to 200 workers.
Active membership was very low. The unions did not like the check-off
system for this purpose. Workers did not mind voting in a secret ballot
(membership subscription paid by the leaders themselves) to the party of
their choice.

But very few workers would be willing to identify with a single/particular


union and allow the management to deduct the subscription from the salary.
Only a few committee workers, attached to some ideology would do so. It
will be a microscopic minority. It was always a win-win situation. The views
of the management and the union, differed on many issues and there are
problems which continue unresolved for decades, but there was a Lakshman
rekha. Though not always the Management consulted the unions on vital
issues or before important policy decisions were taken. The unions know the
restrictions of the Tiruchy management - Corporate Office and the Govt - the
decisions of which could not be violated.

I had mentioned earlier that for 6000 workers in Golden Rock workshop
there was only one Personnel Officer.There was one Asst. P.O. but he was in
charge of the colony and participated in the DAR proceedings as an enquiry
officer. But Tiruchy and other units of BHEL had scores of Officers at various
levels. The clerical staff at GOC was around 50-55 including for pay bills

A Story in our own words Page 88


(manual) at that time, leave records and pass facilities. There was a
Discipline Section with 5/6 staff and a settlement section with 3 clerical staff.
Entire receipt and dispatch of tapals for the whole factory was with
Personnel Branch. Thus we may assume that the strength of the clerical staff
was equal.But the entire workshop was under one Dy CME (Manager rank or
1300-1600 of those days), assisted by three WMs and 5-6 AWMs. Perhaps
standardization was the key. Railway Board took the decisions and the local
GM, or Pos had little elbow room. The role of the local unions was restricted
to strictly local issues- sanitation, tea, timing, etc.). After the All India
Railway strike- or after 50s the role of the local unions was very much
restricted. But in BHEL, in spite of the Corporate Office, the local
management had a very large amount of freedom in shaping the future. The
local chief had lot of discretionary powers to dispense favors. But
instead ofcomparing BHEL, Tiruchy with GOC, a comparative study with Padi
factories may be worthwhile. But still I feel that while we had the power
and the opportunity we could have opted for one majority union and check
off system. But here the 'we' refers to Corporate Office.

However I know I am not the best judge. I have devoted more pages for this
than I had intended because this is one of my pet subjects and Tiruchy being
often quoted as the best example in labour relations. I had taken some
liberty in airing my views. I reiterate that the write up on BHEL, Tiruchy
would be incomplete without a chapter on Personnel -labor relations by a
veteran like Mr.Ayyapa. There are one or two instances, I shall mention
later.

Even at the initial stages it was decided that nonames would be given to
roads,sectors in the Township. The main Township was called the Northern
Township. On the Southern side of the road were the separate hutments
for sweepers and the security colony. There were the A Sector and the EA
Sector.

The main problem in the Township was non-availability of milk especially


during the lean season. There were very few private vendors and the Co-op
milk was available only in a limited quantity. Transport was another
problem. Town buses started from Junction bus stand behind Ashby hotel-
now there is a water tank in the place. Town bus from MG Gate was
available only up to Tiruverumbur (26), Junction pick up - drop services had

A Story in our own words Page 89


not come into vogue. Once after having waited for more than one hour we
went to V.Kottai and returned by the same bus. Buses to Training
Centre/Township bus stand had not begun .Even when I joined in April, 64;
a small hospital had started functioning in one of the Quarters- A-Sector.
Present Health Office was the Hospital. Medical tests for new recruits were
held here- except X-ray (for Technical Staff) and eye test. Reimbursement
scheme was available. A field Medical Centre with one Doctor started
functioning in the present OHS premises. A township Hall was constructed
(the present BHEL MHSS) and marriages and other functions were held here.

A Coop. Store was started and functioned in a very small way in A-Sector
shopping center. State Bank Pay Office which was in the temporary shed
moved to the Shopping Centre (the present Co-op Bank).

Mr.SVS. Raghavan had joined as Dy FA&CAO. PT Venugopal was a very strict


man - he paid for the local calls made from his office / residence phones.
After BHEL, he joined ONGC as Director/Finance and became the CMD of
ONGC. After retirement from ONGC, he went to the World Bank.

One interesting story about PTV in Indian Economist would reflect his
character fully. When Venugopal retired from ONGC he wanted to sell his
car as he thought he could not afford to maintain a car. There was an offer.
If he received the money in cash, he would get more, if by cheque, he would
get less.He preferred the money by cheque.
After WM left for CSSR, I was reduced as Jr Steno for want of a vacancy. In
those days sanctions for the no. of posts was strictly enforced. 19 posts of
Sr Stenos were the sanctioned numbers. I was the 19 and half .Some how
there were 20 Sr Stenos and 1 9 sanctioned posts. Therefore I was reduced
to the post of Jr Steno! After 3 months when WM rejoined, I was again
promoted. Perhaps mine was the only such case in BHEL history.

In the meantime, I do not remember when HE will was merged with BHEL -
a newly floated company. From day one I started using the acronym
"BHEL" in all the IOMs I typed.

In the initial stages when the Punching system was introduced, two
categories were exempted from punching- stenos and attendants. Of course

A Story in our own words Page 90


categories of staff from foreman upwards were exempted from punching.
Much later the exemption in respect of stenos and peons was withdrawn.

SVS Raghavan in his capacity as President of the Emp. Coop Stores


expanded the Stores in a big way. The present Chinthamani was where the
Coop stores functioned. It earned profit and the prices were cheaper. But
after SVS went to Delhi, the stores became sick and was wound up.

A Co-op. House Building Society was started for BHEL Employees. The area
between E-Sector and Thuvakudi (the present Ambedkar Nagar) was
identified for allotment of plots. A subscription of Rs.100/- was collected.
Plots were numbered and beneficiaries identified. But a hitch developed.
Perhaps the land was private patta lands acquired by Govt. for BHEL use.
When BHEL was not to use the land for its benefit, it should surrender the
land to the Govt. (to the pattadar owners) and it cannot alienate it for some
other purpose. On this controversy the Society was closed whereas in
Hyderabad there was some successful activity by a similar society. In
Tiruchy it failed and it did not identify some other land for development. We
were told in the case of the Co-op. Stores, there was some
mismanagement (corrupt activities) by the elected Directors. But nothing
was done to revive it.

While on the subject, I may mention about the ‘Amudham’ Society also. It
was doing wonderfully well and there was always a queue for its meals and
it sold at least 1000 Kg’s of sweets on the pay day at its peak. But it failed
and subsequent attempts to revive once or twice with fresh Boards failed
again due to mismanagement.

However the only exception was the Co-op. Thrift Society (later Co-op
Bank) Mr.Tharathu was the first Secretary and it started in a small way and
grew to its present stature due to the diligent management.

Mr.VK joined Tiruchy Unit, may be in 1968. He was closely associated with
Tiruchy (Of course with all the three new plants) from the beginning as
Chief/Planning & Devpt. He joined Tiruchy Unit as Sr Dy GM next in
hierarchy to RSK. Perhaps by the time RSK was designated as GM and Achan
as Dy GM. Other than civil, Finance & Personnel (!) all the other departments
were to report to him. He looked very young ; may be he was 45-46 at

A Story in our own words Page 91


that time. There was resentment among those who were directly reporting
to GM. There was a rumor that RSK will move to Delhi as Chairman and VK
will be the GM.

Some other development took place. In his confidential report for


K.G.Belliappa, RSK had written (in the Rly format) against column:
"Relationship with Subordinates: "there is scope for improvement".Perhaps
WM's way of functioning was not liked by some of the officers (who were
called the ‘Durgapur group’) who were earlier reporting directly to RSK. KGB
took some liberties with some senior officers by calling them by their first
name which they did not relish. In Railways the subordinates were very
disciplined and there was are respectful distance between the superiors and
the subordinates. Here the dividing line was thin. But the major point was
this : RSK used to call & speak directly to officers under the WM , over the
head of the WM. Neither the officers nor the GM kept him informed of the
instructions. Sometimes WM was kept in the dark. The WM had not
resented the GM's actions. But he wanted the officers receiving
instructions from GM, to keep WM informed. The resentment was growing.
Same officer had complained to GM and this resulted in the above
remarks in the CR and was not meant to spoil the career. But the Railways
took a serious view of the remarks and 'conveyed' the same to KGB. He
was angry that it was a serious blot on his career. He dictated me an
appeal to Railways to be sent through RSK.

He brought out instances of differences and explained his position with


regard to his relationship with subordinates. The draft was sent to GM.RSK
made some correction, and the final reply was sent through GM. But the
Railways did not yield and the remarks stood. The gap widened and at one
stage it dawned that they cannot work together. RSK advised KGB to
apply for the termination of deputation on personal reasons. KGB said: "I am
happy to work here. If you think we cannot work together, you may
ask for the termination of the deputation". RSK warned him: "If I write a
letter asking Railways to take you back, it may spoil your career. Instead
you make a request and I shall recommend". But KCB was adamant: "If you
feel you cannot work with me you may write so. I am not worried about
the consequences. I want the truth to be known".

A Story in our own words Page 92


Such a letter went and KGB was posted to Perambur Workshop. An end of
an era - it was destined to end in that way. Both RSK and KGB were Titans
and they collided. Those who are keen may learn many lessons from this
episode. There were many under currents. At least one man wanted to
directly report to RSK and it was approved. KGB said in so many words he
did not like it.

Sometime earlier KGB asked me about the promotion in BHEL. What would
you do, if you were in Railways! I told him 'I would not mind waiting for ten
years if that were the policy! There was a perception that officers were
promoted to higher positions before they are ready to shoulder
responsibilities. But the difference in responsibilities is not much between
each level i.e. it may not be much between E1-E2 or E3.In BHEL promotions
are part of the incentive to retain manpower in a competitive field. But this
is not so in Railways. This turnover of executives in private sector and in
PSUs like BHEL is high compared to Railways. But Railways has its own
compensation - power and authority, privilege passes and pension + post
retirement passes. May be the discretion and decision making at lower
levels is less. In BHEL authority is spread over many layers. In Railway, it
is all concentrated at higher levels. They stay at various levels for longer
duration and are transferred often. But the modern factory with new
technology cannot be compared with Railways with 150 years of existence.
But it should be admitted that there is scope for reduction in the absolute
number of executives at various levels. Again there is the problem of
promotees and direct recruits. Inaction is another question to be addressed.
The earlier decision to transfer people between Production, Training,
and Quality was given a go by. That decision was taken to have a common
seniority of supervisory staff. But now the promotion is based on department
and the no. is decided separately for each department. If it is based on the
total number and the percentage of the total persons considered and the
best among the whole lot would give all persons equal opportunity.
Otherwise, under the present method the not-so-good is promoted in some
department while the better ones loses in the number game. Departments
have become watertight compartments. All executives I supervisors f
departments where transfers are possible should be considered as one lot at
various levels (as is being done at E4/E5 levels) may be a better system so
that the company loyalty rather than departmental loyalty will prevail and
the best and only the best would get promoted.

A Story in our own words Page 93


The CR system was introduced early and the formats used for executives in
each unit were different till recently. Several committees had recommended
different versions and several changes had been made. But it is not the
question of formats or the scientific/objective basis for the assessments
made, but how the feedback system functions or how the assessment is
made use of are more important. Except the final assessment in one word
'outstanding' etc. the other pages are almost ignored. Again the CRs are
taken out only when the promotion is due (except in case of adverse
entries).A summary assessment is made for the two/three/four years and
decisions taken. The assessing officer and the assessed officer should sit
together every year - should be the culmination of the system. Of course
this is done in some well established companies.

This in turn leads us to the larger question of the role of HR (Personnel) in


manpower planning, assessment, development, deployment, growth,
counseling etc. Now it is just a record keeper. It has absolutely no
role, as a specialist function in grooming the individual. It has to assist the
HOD {line staff) no doubt but it has its own role to play. Professionalism is
missing and it plays a second fiddle.

While at the early stages creation of new posts was strictly controlled by no.
of posts sanctioned (with financial concurrence) over a period of time this
discipline was thrown overboard. Though ED was entrusted with planning
and assessment of manpower requirement, depending upon the personalities
it had to yield. A strong WM/Chief of Production could run rough shod over
any norms and get sanctions. At early stages the Project Report of the
CSSR experts was the basis for positioning men at least in
production/services area. It was the Bible. For a long time the Govt.
Auditors raised their objections based on the projection made in the Project
Report {the black book) (We should retrieve at least one set of these
documents). There was adhocism in later years. Even the projection made in
'Planning' document produced during VK's leadership was given a go by.
Though it is conceded that no document has a permanent validity and
changes occur far too frequently to adhere to any single plan for ever.
Business strategies may change according to business environment and
exigencies like new product / services, fresh priorities or thrust areas, but
each change in the technical / commercial sphere should take into account

A Story in our own words Page 94


the manpower requirement, relocation, retraining, etc. ; this is not done .But
the violations are more. There is some rigidity in the matter of relocation of
personnel. There will be some resistance but creating additional posts
without first attempting to relocating the existing staff (maximum
utilization) will lead to disaster. Otherwise where was the need for VRS -
as a measure of retrenchment of surplus staff - but not as a strategic
measure to meet the competition, technology upgrading, reducing
redundant activities by way of rationalization, etc. Was the surplus due to
rationalization of the operations or due to wrong policies adopted in the
past?Now VRS may not be the complete solution in terms ofstrategic
operation. Undeserving may stay back, the cream may go or the
undeserving may be given an incentive to get out of the company. There
willbe imbalance. Unless conscious, calculated, planned weeding out is done
- there may be chaos. VRS is not a panacea, an ideal solution. At least from
now on, a clear cut, no nonsense recruitment, deployment policy is required,
if we have learnt any lessons at all. If 500/1000 persons had gone on
VRS and there is no dent, that means the company had been paying all
these people all these years unnecessarily. Once PSUs were thought to
be established to provide employment opportunities (one of the social
goals) now the situation had changed.

When a State Minister visited the canteen in 70s, he appreciated BHEL for
employing company employees in the canteen and for running it
departmentally and did not let it out on a contract basis. We had company
security for Township security, sweeper, (sanitary staff, Gardeners, all in
company's roll. Co-op Labor Society was a later innovation. It may not be
correct to judge the past with the present yardstick. Schools, Hospital,
Township were part of the Project. The company's social overhead was not
a matter of concern in the good old days. Now maintenance of such
systems is itself a problem.

I have deviated much from the main theme. The central theme would be
whether it will be feasible to promote people to meet the strict functional
requirement only.

I shall continue with the story. With the exit of Mr.Belliappa - he had not
handed over charge to anybody.He just relinquished his post. When I met

A Story in our own words Page 95


him at the Railway station for a sendoff, he said : 'You should not have
come here. You will be branded'. But no such thing happened.

Mr.VK was given additional charge of Works Management. I continued in


WM's Office. For some time the papers were received in our office and VK
came to Bldg-2&4. But this stopped after some time. Once VK came and
wanted WM's room to be converted as Conference Room. He wanted me to
speak to Mr. Rajkumar to arrange a suitable furniture.I told Mr.Rajkumar.
But nothing was done. Next time when he came he asked me to arrange for
Tables and chairs from the Central Library. It was done immediately .VK
wanted the customer meeting to be held inside the factory. A meeting of all
GMs of various BHEL Units was held at Tiruchy during this period.

After a visit to CSSR, VK dictated to me his tour report continuously for over
an hour or so. It was a privilege to take down his dictation. With an even
voice and speed he dictated and there was no hesitation and the
language and the choice of words were appropriate and functional, with
right emphasis, not a flowery or an ornamental language and no
exaggeration. He had no notes except a few visiting cards for his reference.
Then came the great shock - the death of RSK. He had asthma and he was
a chain smoker. He smoked charminar and also the pipe. We were told that
he had asked the Doctor to come to his office and he was administered an
injection. He carried on his work. He never went to the hospital.

His body was laid in the then GM's bungalow. All the employees paid their
homage. He was cremated in the BHEL crematorium . It was a shock to
all of us. We were remotely connected with him. He led by his
example and his dynamism and practical wisdom were well known.
There was a condolence meeting in front of canteen.

Even while RSK was alive, VK was given the Chairmanship of the Works
Committee. The Committee was an elected Committee with some
nominations. There were not many contestants. Almost all the demands
made by the members were met and approved. One Mr.D.Srinivasagopalan,
a friend of mine was a member, and he moved many subjects which were
approved. VK had an open mind and very soon earned the goodwill
of the employees. The subjects / items were not of a serious nature but
which caused problems to the employees. For example, there was a rule

A Story in our own words Page 96


that the leave can be availed to the maximum of three spells.This
caused some hardship and when brought up, was simply accepted -
perhaps it was increased to 5 spells. The minor irritants were removed
without much ado.In the absence of a strong Trade Union movement this
was an opportunity to settle the grievances. The WC members could meet
VK at any time and represent. RSK by his nature was a bit distant and he
was occupied fully.Minutes of the first five meetings of the WC would reveal
how magnanimous the management was.There was a feel-good factor and
very soon VK earned the gratitude of the employees. He was accessible.He
was a good listener; he remembered the names of employees.He wanted the
executives to dress well and wear shoes. He was methodical and had an
uncluttered mind and a keen intellect.He was sharp and pleasing.He could
gauge men easily. He had a vision for the company. He brought with him a
whiff of fresh air. Tiruchy when compared to Delhi where he worked was
conservative and the atmosphere was rural. RSK's letter couched in good
English were typed not so elegantly and had a few corrections by hand by
RSK. For him the contents are more important than the format. But VK
wanted his letters to be typed even with the alignment of right hand
margin - a difficult thing in a manual- mechanical typewriters. But
Mr.Venkitadri was an excellent secretary and he proved more than VK's
expectations. VK wanted perfection and excellence in everything. His
aesthetic sense was projected, displayed and found expression even in
small details.

Let me go back and write about the cultural, social religious and welfare
activities.

The Community Centre was considered the hub of social, cultural activities.
Annual sports was conducted for many years. However, the Anniversary
celebrations of the Training Centre was well organized, every year. There
were sports and cultural activities in these annual celebrations. At least
for about ten years, these celebrations were held independently of the
sports events under the auspices of the Training Centre, for other
departments. Exhibitions were held on Technical and Scientific subjects and
the working model of the boiler was a revelation to the novices in boiler
operation.

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Mr.Antony Dorai was the force behind these activities. An excellent penman
both in English and Tamil, he was also an able Engineer with a very clear
analytical mind.More about him later.

The community center had a library, facilities for indoor games like carrom,
shuttlecock (later addition), Table Tennis. But cards and Thambola (in
Sundays) drew a special crowd. The library was good in the beginning.
Slowly by the time we left there were only old books - not much addition - a
neglected area. The weekly cinema in the open air theatre drew large
crowd. The only cinema in the beginning was Ganesh Theatre (now
Ramakrishna Tapovanam Middle School). The thatched theatre has gone but
the name subsists. We went to Tiruverumbur Elite Theatre (newly
constructed then). Of course a group of people hired the company bus to got
to Tiruchy for pictures.

The Krishna Gana Sabha was started for the benefit of music lovers.
S.Raman & later T.G.Krishnmurthy built the Sabha assiduously. There were
concerts by well-known artists.MS had come to CC open air auditorium
once. Earlier there was another concert by MS in Thevar Hall arranged by
BHEL.

Ladies Wing was part of the Community Centre. Much later, four cultural
societies functioned in CC. The Muthamizh Mandram, Telugu Samiti,
Kannada Sangha and Kerala Samajam. Very good programmers were
conducted by Telugu Samit. Individual rooms were built for these Societies
in the CC premises.

The security staff had their own club (with Mathar Sangam of their
own).They held sports and Bada Khana every year. Fetes were held under
the auspices of CC. But sports activities declined. Annual sports became
Inter Departmental events and then only Inter Unit and Inter PSU sports
were held. Two major events were the Independence and the Republic Day
Parades - flag hoisting - display byschool children etc. These attracted
considerable crowd. Some dramas by in house troupes were held. Ladies
wing led weekly meetings - but the attendance was minimal mainly from
ladies from higher 'social' levels.

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When the Czech experts left Tiruchy the club premises was given to
Kailasapuram Club.(Their houses were fully furnished and the furniture
items including water heater, fridge, beddings, cots, blankets were given
to employees at fixed prices by lots. There was some objection to this
practice. Later auctions were held. Blankets were sold through the Co-op
Bank. I got one for Rs.35/- and it is still in good condition!) Welfare
supervisors were appointed even in 65.They visited shop floors regularly and
the grievances were settled. The Personnel Department inside the factory
with one PO was housed near WM's Office. During early stages PB prepared
the Pay bills and sent them to Accounts. The Arithma machine, card
punching machines etc. were all housed on the way to Bldg-24 Canteen -
the present Valves Subcontracting Dept. That was a new addition for
computers. Computers were there till the new building was constructed.
Canteens were started in Training Centre, Bldg.-24. When Building-50
and 79 were constructed canteens were added there also.A ladies welfare
center was started to train girls in Tailoring, Typing. They also ran a crèche
and Bala Vihar.

RSK School was started in 1964 and YWCA Middle School and Boys High
School by Ramakrishna Tapovanam were started. From the beginning, it was
clearly laid down that while BHEL would provide infrastructure facilities, the
School will be managed by veterans in running the Schools. In the beginning
Schools were self-supporting and the Agreements provided for no grants in
aid.

The first CMO was Dr.Palande and later Dr.Ramachandra from Rlys joined.
Dr.Rao was a very good administrator beside an ENT Surgeon (FRCS). A
lay secretary was working to look after Hospital administration. To this
day Hospital is working well. There may be some grievances but the
service and the cleanliness and hygiene are excellent. Reimbursement
was stopped and after RSK Dispensary in Tiruchy, a Dispensary in Kattur
and Security Colony were opened. Medicines havebeen standardized in
consultation with CMC, Vellore. Doctors were sent to Seminars for updating.
One or two deaths had caused uproar and the expectation of employees are
high .The Committee on hospital management with representatives from
Unions discussed the general grievances. One main grievance is about
reference to outside hospitals. Perceptions differ. I was told by a prominent
citizen in Tiruchy in 80s that some Doctors in outside hospitals poison the

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minds of employees when they go there for treatment - about the poor
diagnostic skills of BHEL Doctors, quality of medicines, etc. In matters of
health employees expect quick & magical remedies. In BHEL Hospital very
strong medicines are avoided.When employees suggest medicines, line of
treatment and demand referrals, friction arises.

Canteen prices are stagnant for more than 30 years. A Committee under
SVS studied and recommended that the cost of fuel, labour and supervision
and vessels /building etc. would be borne by BHEL and the cost of raw
materials to be recovered from employees and prices increased to meet the
increased cost of raw materials. But this was never implemented. The
Joint Committee accepted the consideration of the revision all the time of
pay revision but it could never be implemented at Tiruchy. Some Units
revised the prices but not Tiruchy.

VK was appointed as GM. Mr.Achan was Dy GM. By that time Venugopal


had gone to ONGC and SVS became FA&CAO.Belliappa had gone back
to Rlys and Works Management was attached to Achan.I think by this time
VRD became the Commercial Manager.VRD was very close to RSK.All
important technical aspects of the Project was entrusted to VRD.He was
most congenial,hardworking and could meet the demands of RSK.As
AS/General and S/General he was party to all the important decisions.
hewas aloof from the controversies and was the conscience keeper of
RSK.However, there was no air about him and his humility never left him
even after he became the CMD of MRL. His close relationship continued
with VK also. He had the greatest regard for RSK and VK and he rarely
referred them by name. His loyalty to RSK and VK withstood all
vicissitudes. It was unwavering.Even today when he talks about them there
is some glow in his eyes (moisture?) and we can feel the emotion in his
voice. He had the genuine affection and admiration for their abilities. With
RSK it was almost a Guru - Sishya relationship. But he never imitated
them. He was independent - fiercely independent. VRD was a very deep
man. He kept his opinions to himself. (I am changing tracks). So much
changed after VK's assumption as GM. Chronology fails me and events are
more important than its sequence.

When he came to Tiruchy as Sr Dy GM (as he himself told a meeting


later), he brought with him the Govt. approval for the second phase

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expansion with the Czech collaboration. The site leveling work for Bldg-50
had started. But there was a change and CE Collaboration was obtained (A
story goes that earlier in 1960s, C E refused to discuss collaboration with
BHEL. But in the years, BHEL had proved its capability).Even during the
early years the capacity of the company to absorb new technology was
admired by Czech experts. Many Czech experts were sent back ahead of
their time. The standard hours was the standard/yardstick adopted in
the early years and we had excelled Czech standards.

The technology was new no doubt. But except for the design and
fabrication of pressure parts, the other technologies were comparatively
related to general fabrication practices (unlike technologies related to
Turbines, motor etc.). Training of workers at a very early stage helped very
much. There was a good mixture of the young and the old (the fresh
engineers and workmen along with experienced men) and every one was
keen to learn and to teach.

One great revolution {which I could sense) started with the change in the
letter head of the company. The letters and the font became bold and it
was standardized.(Marketing) Commercial was taken seriously. The first
Malaysian order changed the whole vision. It was a moment for
celebration, hope and ecstasy, self-confidence and self-assertion. VK's
negotiating skills are legendary. He had a personal magnetism - which he
was aware and which he fully exploited for the goal of the company. His
vision for BHEL extended beyond the shores of India or beyond the role as a
fabricator. He wanted BHEL to be World No.1 - a global leader and he
achieved during his stewardship. Very few of the Technocrats had the ability
to dream, visualize and achieve - realize the dreams during his lifetime. He
was a planner par excellence. He thought on the positive aspects and he had
the ability to lead and inspire. He interacted with employees at all levels,
listened with care and attention. He was suave, condescending without the
other man feeling his littleness in his presence.

He was ruthless at times when he felt there was a need to weed out. You are
awed in his presence but his manner put you at ease. He showed genuine
concern and went out of the way to help employees in distress or in need of
help. He relieved the pain and anguish by his smooth and comforting words
- He also acted - not mere lip sympathy.

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(Last week I met an ex-employee at the RSK Dispensary. He recalled the
halcyon days and described it as the 'Golden Era'.It was not an
exaggeration).There was a great swell of enthusiasm,feel-good environment.

Besides the CE Collaboration, agreements were signed with leaders in each


Product line : Mills, Fans, Air heaters, Valves, ESP. It was highlighted again
and again that Tiruchy was the only Factory in the whole world which
manufactured all the boiler components under one roof. He saw far ahead,
far high and horizon was no limit - nor the sky.

A new WM (Mr.Kelkar, deputationist from Rlys) joined and I was moved to


Training Centre from where a person much senior to me was posted to
WM's Office. Mr.Ananthakrishnan, Supdt /Training resigned and in his place,
Antony Dorai who was in charge of Indigenous Development Cell was
asked to hold additional charge of Training Centre.

Even during RSK's days serious efforts were on to develop raw castings
for valve production. Ramasubramanian who was close to RSK spearheaded
the activities relating to the placing of developmental orders on
SriRamakrishna and Sivananda. Moving out of WM's Office, I slowly lost
contact with the key players and worked at fringe departments like Stores
and Quality for some years.

While at Training Centre I worked under Antony Dorai. Dorai's command


over English was well known. One had to experience it to believe. He could
dictate for almost one hour without any break.Sentences were long and
complicated and he never faltered. He never asked to read the earlier
portion to continue. His sentences reminded me of Aurobindo's English.
One sentence , one paragraph with ten lines was a normal affair. While
taking a dictation I used to enjoy and used to wonder how he would
conclude the sentence. He was a true Christian with a large heart and a
genuine concern. I had never heard him raise his voice or shout at people.
People could freely walk into his room and discuss matters. He met people
with ease and confidence. He was open to suggestions and he was a great
organizer. He had trust in people. He was a serious Christian but he also
believed in Rahukalam, etc.RSK affectionately called him 'Antony Pandithar'
for his fluency in Tamil. Let me go back to the narration. RSK's statue was

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installed from contribution from the employees. Model Room was
renovated. Public Relations and Publicity work really started (R.K.Swamy)
specialist in Advertising was brought in.The Seminar Hall in IV Flor was
constructed. A new post of Materials Manager was created (previously it
was Supdt/Stores and Purchase) and one Mr.Vinayagam from NLC was
appointed. But he could not continue for long. For sometime SVS held
additional charge of MM. I moved to Stores under Mr.Seshadri. The most
important development during this period was the installation of many
cranes- material handling equipment all over the Stores area. Mr.Seshadri
was a very senior officer and was working in HEC Ranchi. He retired after a
few years.

Bldg.-50 and the canteen nearby came into operation.Changes took place
in the Design Organization. A facelift was given to the Drawing Offices. The
main thrust was the change from a Manufacturing organization to an
Engineering organization. Not merely a fabrication unit .BHEL should be
capable of designing boilers for several needs of its own. BHEL engineered
boilers was the ultimate aim.

Ancillary Development was one of the aims of BHEL. Outsourcing non-


pressure parts from the small scale sector located nearby was aimed
at.Provide raw materials, technology, inspection facilities, even inspection
instruments and continuous monitoring and guidance to develop local
talents.It was a unique concept.Elaborate guidelines were drafted.,covering
Min. land, shed size, min. machineries etc. It gave BHEL enough support
to achieve very high turnover without much additional investment or
expanding capacity. It could achieve a turnover of 1,65,000 MT in a year
only because of this. This should be a separate chapter - an important
one - when the history is written.(A.K.B.Lakshmanan is the authority
on this. Also KBS). The fortunes of these small scale industries in and
around BHEL are closely tied up with the fortunes of BHEL and it rises and
falls in a cyclic pattern.While BHEL could withstand the decline in its order
book position with its inbuilt resilience, the ancillaries became sick and
moribund. The umbilical cord has remained for a very long time and the total
dependency of these units on BHEL has resulted in the stunted growth.Only
a few had become totally independent. There are other problems like
quality, misuse of raw materials (accounting etc.) painting, welding – surge
loads – non-uniform loading pattern, price, payment etc. Many units

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have no permanent labour force, have not added a single new machinery
and are not in a position to meet the documentation needs of ISO 9001
regime. Some work for 10 to 15 days a month. Low wages cause large
labour turnover and quality suffers. How far the original aims in the
development of these industries were fulfilled is a moot question. At
that time, it was thought the flow of orders to BHEL would be continuous.
The near insolvency of the state EBs was never thought of. Liberalization
was not even in the horizon.

Even many private sector companies who clamored for dismantling quota -
permit -license raj, once the liberalization process started, wanted
protection! But BHEL effectively faced the changed scenario because
of the foresight of VK. It could compete in the world wide competition
because it entered into collaboration with world leaders. Thirty years back,
absorbed the technology, could cut costs and the time frame even when
reducing the work force. But for his foresight and vision BHEL would have
gone the way of HPF, etc.

There was churning in the organizational set up.People changed places,


people who were once considered pillars were relegated to the background
and new faces, new talents young and bright minds surfaced. Even some of
the second generation leaders moved away from the center. Spotting and
developing talents is the strength of the leader. Even Tirukkural speaks of
this. Even in the best of times men left the organization. But developing
second line and third line is a constant endeavor. In that respect BHEL has
so far succeeded and there was no dearth of talents.

The Tenth Anniversary (1975) was celebrated and the hand clasp at the
Tanjore Road entrance was opened. A wrist watch was given to all those
who had completed 10 years of service.

By this time I had moved from Stores to Central Lab to HRS Rao's Office. He
was the father of the Central Laboratory. MR.Rao (even though there was
another Rao (ASN) when RSK called Rao it was HRS Rao. RSK had a great
liking for Rao. He was very methodical, dedicated, scrupulous, analytical and
he checked every detail himself. He insisted the Lab Technicians to wear
white coat - clean white coat ! He wanted the equipment to be kept clean
and shining. He was very proud of the set up. Visit to the Lab was a must

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for every visitor. He purchased lot of books and standards and wanted his
staff to remain update. NDT and Inspection (Boiler and Valves) were part of
his domain. He also went round the Lab and Factory every morning.

Incoming inspection and testing of raw materials, were bottlenecks. The


testing and attestation procedures and inspection by Boiler Inspectors and
other external inspection agencies are the other responsibilities. HRS. Rao
was nominated in the Central Boilers Board as a representative of the Boiler
manufacturer (BHEL is the major boiler maker).A meeting of the Central
Boilers Board was held in BHEL, Tiruchy.

I was given the responsibility of maintaining files & correspondence


regarding meetings of the Central Boiler Board. The CBB functioned as
part of the Ministry of Industry. The Industry Secretary was the ex-
officio Chairman of the CBB. There was a full time Secretary. There
were several sub-committees to the Board. The Board met once in a year.
The Indian Boiler Regulations formulated under the Indian Boiler Act was the
bible -it was old. With the adoption of CE technology, it had required
some revisions. The procedure for amending the Regulations was a tedious
one. It has to be scrutinized by a Committee which met infrequently. All the
other members of the CBB were not conversant with the changes in the
technological field. All the CIBs of states were members and most of them
are drawn from other departments. (TNCIB comes under PVVD). They
looked with suspicionany proposal from BHEL. The Secretary-cum. Tech
Adviser was sympathetic but he had to carry the CIBs along with him. BHEL
cannot brook any delay.

Mr.Rao was a member of the Committee to draw ISO Regulation on Boilers.


He attended the ISO meeting in US. He undertook the responsibility of
drawing up a draft. We spent several months on this draft. Rao was assisted
by A. Srinivasulu and Reddy of Inspection. Sitting on the floor of the
metallography lab we would be surrounded by hundreds of Standards;
IBR - IS, BS, DIN, JIS, ASME, ASTM, etc.(Mr.Rao was M.Sc (Physics) and
had a Met. Degree from IISC).The other activity that interested Rao was the
certification of Indian Steels for use in Pressure parts, where creep tests are
required.He wrote long letters quoting several authorities that there is no
nationality for steel.Any steel which met the chemical and mech.
properties would automatically meet the creep test requirements also. He

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held discussions with NML and also set up a creep testing equipment - the
material to be kept at high temperature and pressure (tension) for 100,000
hours.

He won the National Metallurgical Award for his paper on an Indian


steel.When Mr.Rao was promoted as DGM he was asked to report to
another DGM (M.K.Sridhar) and he accepted. Later Rao was transferred to
CFFP, Hardwar. He became GM there and later transferred to Ceramics
Plant, Bangalore. At the initial stages testing of Indian coals for determining
its properties had to be done at Dhanbad. Rao spent several days there.
When the tubes supplied by the lTC were rejected, he had to undertake
elaborate testing.I had picked up some technical knowledge because of my
association in the Lab. Rao took me to the meetings of the Boiler Board in
Delhi! I do not remember dates. But major changes took place. VK
moved to Delhi as the Chairman to be elevated as CMD immediately
thereafter SVS went to Delhi as OSD -made Director (Finance) sometime
later. PPD was opened in Madras and Achan became ED & GGM. VRD was
posted as GM, Tiruchy. After becoming Commercial Manager, VRD was
SDGM for some time.If RSK, PT. Venugopal, Achan, Belliappa combination
worked at the early stages, VK,SVS, VRD combination worked well in the
next phase.

PA Menon who was Personnel Manager was transferred to Hardwar. There


was a rumor he was working for supporting the formation of an Officers'
Association in Tiruchy and that was why he was suddenly transferred.
Later he was asked to quit.

VK in one of his speeches bidding farewell at Tiruchy mentioned that he


came to Tiruchy with Govt’s approval for extension of Agreement with CSSR
- but later when this was dropped and CE Collaboration ensued he has been
replying Audit queries on it. CSSR did not have technology beyond 110 MW
and VK fore saw the need for going up to 600 MW units.

For the first time Production bonus was given. (I got about Rs.6721-). The
BPEU took a procession inside the Township to hail this. Even during RSK's
days an attempt was made to declare 'Township' as Township like
Courtalam / Kodaikkanal, instead of bringing under the Panchayats etc.
The State Govt. declined the request. Perhaps NLC had the 'township' !?

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This had implication like paying Prof. Tax, etc. even though Panchayat
had no responsibility towards roads, lighting in the Township. Tiruchy
Township was named as Kailasapuram after the first Chairman Kailash Bihari
Mathur. But the Postal authorities did not agree to the name as there is
one Kailasapuram in AP. So it is only Boiler Project Post Office even now.
Several changes took place in the corporate set up. For a long time the HO
was at 5,Parliament Street.It moved to Kasturba Gandhi Marg. It became
Corporate Office.Dr.Sharan was inducted as Director (Engineering). It was
talked that VK obtained special permission to pay Dr.Sharan more than the
CMD ! A post of Director / Commercial (or Marketing) was created and an
lAS Officer was posted.(I forgot his name now.He became the CMD of
Maruti after VK). VK took with him several bright young engineers to Delhi.
He was always keen on building a good team.Several policy booklets were
issued - Purchase Policy, Works Policy, etc. A booklet on Engg
reorganization was issued. Product and Development were separated to
give a boost to innovation, research and development. R&D set up was
strengthened. A separate Corporate R&D Lab and establishment was set
up to centralize certain activities and to coordinate among Units.MHD
was setup. Research on alternative fuels other than coal/oil/gas was
initiated - once through boiler, Combined Cycle Demonstration Plant, etc.
SSTP was inaugurated by TA.Pai, Min. of Industry. The idea was to
conserve foreign exchange as the sudden upward revision of oil prices
created a panic situation whereby the Boiler Plant would not be able to
import tubes for boilers.
The meeting of the Parliamentary Consultation Committee for the Min. of
Industry was held at Seminar Hall.The present furniture at the Seminar
Hall - the tables, public address system were arranged for this meeting
(more about it later).
Piping Centre was established. The idea was not only to meet the
piping requirements of the Power Stations- but also the general piping
requirement of the country. It was supposed to be a separate product in
itself to find market outside the Power industry. I am not a technical person
to assess its impact. But in my personal opinion if it had taken a serious
note of its role, the Piping Centre should have equipped itself to design
pipelines like HBJ pipeline and the present efforts to lay pipelines all over
the country for transporting petroleum products (instead of tankers). But
Piping Centre had confined itself to the Power piping.

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Similarly the SSTP Plant.It was almost sick from the beginning. What was
wrong with the Plant ? None was able to identify and rectify. Mr.M.K.Sridhar
tried his best. He used to say 'the more we produce the more we lose".Of
course the pricing - the landed cost of imported tubes was equal to
the raw material cost. Attempts were made during the project stage (when
I was with HRS. Rao) to develop steel plants in India to produce billets
required by SSTP. Perhaps the Project was conceived with local billets in
mind. But the cost of indigenous billets was prohibitive. May be Indian
billets are used to a large extent. But the special pricing system (transfer
price) adopted by Boiler Plant and the inability of the SSTP to compete in
the other market were factors. But whether we had the best technology
available, whether the machinery & equipment could meet the demand,
whether the labor policy required for the operation of a process steel
plant was fully adopted (the Boiler Plant operation was different from the
discipline required for the operation and maintenance of a process plant like
SSTP - but working side by side and the employees are mostly from Boiler
Plant and the inability (?) of the unions to understand the difference all
combined ,conspired to an unsatisfactory situation (plant / machinery,
technology, raw material cost, pricing system and workers' discipline).
Successive GMs and EDs tried their best. (I am not sure of the present
position. Separate chapters on SSTP by Mr Jayachandran and Piping Centre
(by?) would fill the gap and would throw more light on the ticklish issues
faced by the two units, which will be a case study for future.The whole
object is not to blame anybody but to draw useful lessons from the past.
The success story of Boiler Plant stands in contrast to the problems faced by
Ranipet, SSTP and the Piping Centre. In case of Piping Centre, it was not
problems like SSTP and BAP - but whether it has fulfilled its mission
/objective or it was expected to grow only at this rate? Why no teething
trouble in Boiler Plant?Except for a brief period when the failure rate of tubes
was high and the problems with 210 MW boilers (500 MW was much
smoother than 210 MW), and some public criticism, there was not much of a
problem. I know I am deviating from the story, but the idea is not a mere
recording of the events chronologically but to analyses the past with a view
to learn appropriate lessons. At least it was with this in view I had intended
to study the past.

While on the subject, R&D has not kept pace with the growth and the
reputation of the company. Is this related to restrictive policies of the

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company in regard to remuneration - not enough to attract the cream from
the market? The uniform scales of pay and restriction in fixing the initial pay
at the time of recruitment and for their promotion are certainly a bar. I
remember well when attempts were made to recruit IIT engineers very few
turned up.(I may also mention one more incident : VRD tried to recruit
a national chess champion. He was posted to Piping Centre. But rules did
not permit us to pay him more than a clerk's salary. He left. Even Railways
recruit such persons to the level of officers. That is why we could not boast
of a single national level player in any field - like Rlys, Airlines, and Banks
apart from private sector).The idea of setting separate Plant of Boiler
auxiliaries was to develop an independent product line and market apart
from captive needs. This was true of SSTP and Piping Centre. The success
of these units could be gauged from the percentage of outside orders to the
total turnover.Dr.Sharn was a very dynamic man. We have heard of him
arriving by the evening flight from Delhi. At Madras Guest House he used to
discuss till the early morning flight to Tiruchy. I had accompanied him
during his visit to the R&D facilities.Mr.T.C.Parthasarathy the Elec & Tele
Communication engineer was at hand to record the proceedings so that it
may help us in transcribing our notes. T.A. Pai spoke very fast- more than
200 words p.m. It was a tough task. We do not know the names of MPs,
we were seated at the middle and even though name boards were there,
there was no time to note down. It was a real challenge. We were afraid
that if we made mistakes we will be hauled over hot coals. To our surprise
and worry nothing had been recorded! We were a little lax that after all the
proceedings were taped. Skipping dinner, we typed whatever was possible -
using our imaginations to fill the gaps- and handed over the script. The work
was over by the wee hours of the next day. But nothing happened. We
were relieved. It is a classic example of the maxim that if anything could fail
it will fail- here at the most crucial moment. It was not a total fiasco as
otherwise it would have brought bad name to BHEL.
Before joining GM's Office, I visited Hardwar to see whether I could join
there.I had an occasion to meet Col. Wahi the ED in his office late in
the night. (He became CMD/ONGC later). We heard interesting stories
later of his practice of holding post-dinner meetings to review progress and
his style of functioning.

At Ayappa's office I had no work as he had his own staff. At Chakrapani's


office I had some work. He used to dictate letters walking all over the

A Story in our own words Page 109


room. I had to strain to hear his words. Otherwise it was an interesting
experience. Thus before coming to VRD’s office, I had exposure to Services,
Works Management, Training, Stores, and Laboratories, Quality Personnel
and Finance and also a week in Designs!

I do not know how and why I was picked up. There were many aspirants and
I was not one. In the first meeting with VRD (he had become ED & GGM by
that time); he told me that he would be spending 70 - 80% of his time with
the Planning group. As I understood it as ED he was a member of the
Corporate Management and GM was responsible for the Unit's performance
and development. Later 'GGM' was dropped. But it has now become another
level in the hierarchy, a stepping stone to ED's post.Within the next one
week a German team came. Only Coral Dillon and I were in the Office. Coral
was the anchor and I had to go out and do errands wherever necessary.
VRD was very nice and considerate towards me and soon we understood
each other. He used me as a sounding board.

The school for the mentally retarded had just then started functioning and a
name had to be selected from the list of many submitted. The name
'Anbagam' was selected by ED. I told him the DMK's office in Madras was
'Anbagam' and he wanted me to check with RM, who confirmed it.Then he
chose 'Arivalayam'.But it is an irony after several years, DMK's Head
Quarters was named 'Arivalayam'. Arivalayam was one ofthe many
institutions created by VRD. His wife was the force behind him in this
regard. It was a unique institution and R.Krishnan's contribution to its
further development and eminence is worth mentioning. R.Krishnan was a
tireless worker and his dedication to the cause of the unfortunate children
was complete and total and with the backing of the first family it grew from
strength to strength. Trained teachers were appointed, hostel was added
later, a vocational section was added to train the students in simple
vocation; envelope making, garland, greeting cards, end covers for tubes,
etc.

I shall briefly mention some of the other projects.WRI was established with
U N aid as also OHS. R.Krishnamurthy and Dr.Sadananda Murthy were the
forces behind these projects. Welding has a great role to play in the
manufacture of boilers. Initially aWelding Technology Centre was started.
Even now it performs certain functions directly connected with Boiler Plant

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regarding standardization & procurement of electrodes. But WRI has a wider
role. Tiruchy isthe most natural location for the research in welding. It has
now made a foray in the field of manufacture of electrodes. How far
the Indian industries have made use of its service is an important question.
Like the National Labs in chemistry, Physical Lab, Metallurgical,
Mechanical, Coal, etc. it should play a preeminent position. But in the
absence of the central grants like the other Labs under the Ministry, WRI is
fully supported by BHEL, except the earnings from consultancy.

Dr.Murthy devoted himself entirely for the cause of the OHS. He faced
several obstacles but with the support of ED he built the Institution.Both left
the institutions they had built. People had some shortcomings and the
organization has to overlook, if otherwise they were serving the main
objectives.Building a Kingdom was often thrown as challenge and it had to
be looked at the broader perspective. Of course no one is indispensable
(as RSK mentioned in a circular in 60s) and the institutions cannot
grow under crutches. We cannot say, if 'he' had continued. No one is
permanent but the institutions should make progress and grow in spite of
the change of men at the oars and the helmsman. Only time can tell
whether the men who had conceived and built could not have made
better progress than what has been done after their departure. 'I' tried
to introduce a Diploma / Degree course in OHS in association with the
Bharatidasan University after discussing with Dr (Prof) P.S.Mani Sundaram
who was the Vice Chancellor. Though he agreed in principle there were
some obstacles which could not be overcome. A conscious decision was
taken to make OHS independent of the Hospital administration and its chief,
to give it a distinct role of its own. Some of the veterans doctors who were
trained abroad had left. OHS was originally named as a National Model
Centre for OHS and was to train, Doctors propagate the concept and help all
industries in various sectors like coal, petroleum, cement, steel to establish
OHS centers and also to help the small scale industries in and around
Tiruchy.I think it only serves BHEL, Tiruchy, now. Another attempt was
made to start an institute for pollution control as manufacturers of
Electrostatic Precipitators.But corporate office thought otherwise. Local
villages were adopted for water supply and for our voluntary agencies
helping in education.

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The MD Auditorium was built. As per the original concept, it was to be an A/c
auditorium. Because of the delay in construction (hike in cost), it
could not be air-conditioned. The stadium was completed in phases.

The Tanjore highway was converted for four lane traffic. Originally it was
from REC to Palpannai. BHEL was to pay 50% of the expenditure. But the
State Govt. was reluctant. Later when it ultimately accepted the cost had
escalated andonly a part of the original scheme could be executed. BHEL
was to pay Rs.30 Lakhs. It was a very bold decision at the Unit level.
When ED dictated to me a letter to the CE/Highways giving consent, I gently
reminded him that we have to obtain corporate approval, he simply said, "I
shall speak to the Chairman". The consent letter was sent without corporate
approval. S.N.Rajan who was in P&D in Delhi told me sometimes later that
ED had asked him to draft proposal and it was later approved without much
fuss.

The flood relief work carried out by BHEL in Tiruchy and suburbs during the
floods in the Cauvery and the Coleroons drew much appreciation from the
public.Flood waters entered residential areas like Thillai Nagar, Chatram,
Srirangam temple, Tiruvanai Koil temple, colleges like St.Joseph's and
SRC.E.Meenakshisundaram who was working in BHEL, Tiruchy telephoned
ED's office one evening about the flood. I informed ED in his house.
Immediately Security, Civil and Administration departments were alerted
and a meeting was held in ED's house. I planted myself in the Office and as
we received more reports, rescue team were formed and many
employees joined. One of our Officers Mr.Kamath from LRP was nominated
to coordinate with Revenue officials. Security, Fire Service especially with
volunteers of employees went to seriously affected areas and rescued
people who were marooned . For two/three days the floods and the
rains continued. Meanwhile, relief operations by way of distribution of food
packets went on from day two. Canteen staff and volunteers worked night
and day to prepare thousands of packets and were distributed to people
stationed in schools and kalyana mandapams. Next in priority was supply of
medicines and prevention of epidemics. RM in Madras was alerted and he
was asked to procure large quantities of medicines.But transportation
became a problem as both the road and train services were disrupted.The
local correspondent of The Hindu (Mr.Ramanarasu) contacted The Hindu
Office in Madras for transportation for the medicines by The Hindu plane

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(coming daily from Madras with the Newspaper for distribution). On
their agreeing, the medicines were sent by the Plane. One cold morning
myself and D.V.Subramanian went to the airport around 3 a.m. and received
the medicines. It was a humanitarian assistance to the local population and
it was appreciated very much. ED was later honoured by the Rotary Club.
Throughout it was ensured that we were helping the district administration
and perfect liaison was maintained. Though BHEL earned the name and the
goodwill, we worked not as an independent agency but only to help the
district administration. The Govt. appreciated this gesture. Teams of fire
service personnel with fire tender were sent to the Srirangam and T.V.Koil
temples to pump out water from the praharams. SRC College and
St.Joseph’s lost many precious books from their libraries. Industrial fans
were given to them to dry the books damaged in the flood waters. This was
the high point in the cooperation between the Management and the
employees. When there was a Railway accident near Ariyalur (when one of
our executive, of the Commercial Department died), BHEL team went and
helped Railways.

Children's Exhibition in the Training Centre grounds was held in a big way.
Science exhibits and computers were in display. There was an amusement
park also (R.K. of WRI was in charge of this area).S.Raman coordinated with
schools. MGR participated and appreciated the efforts. There was a large
turnout of students from rural areas. It was a big success.

Another event was the International Chess Tournament held in the


Community Centre. It was part of the international circuit and the points
earned were taken into account to determine the standing of the players.As
there was no air conditioning at the CC Hall wet khas khas Thatti with big
fans were arranged. There was big publicity and press reports were sent
daily.

But the real coup was the putting up of an electronic Board in Mount Road to
exhibit the moves.Again R.K of WRI was in charge of this effort. This
was very much appreciated by all chess lovers.

One regular event was a friendly cricket match between the Unions and
Management or between SSTP and BP. The match lasted for the forenoon

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session and lunch was arranged in the CC. VRD, Ayappa, Sridhar and all the
Trade Union leaders participated.

When there was a demand for a separate Girls' High School at the Township,
there was some hesitation at the corporate level to have a separate High
School for Girls. So for some time, it worked as a part of the Boys' High
School, but separate buildings were put up and after sometime the Girls'
High School started functioning as a full-fledged separate High School. It is
not merely a question of co-education or a separate school for girls.But also
the question of number of students.If there was to be one school the school
would have become too big and unmanageable. Corporate Office sometimes,
sitting in Delhi, does not understand the Unit's problems and hence this
situation to circumvent.This is only an example

REC and BHEL were established almost at the same time. Prof. P.S.Mani
Sundaram as the Head of REC (and later as VC of the Bharatidasan
University) had established a very good rapport with BHEL and the
institution - industry cooperation was firmly established during his tenure.
New courses on Power Plant Engineering and Welding, NDT, Safety
Engineering, were established in REC and BHEL engineers took classes in
REC. The part time BE course was a boon to BHEL Supervisors.

When there was a demand for Quarters, a Scheme was framed for
employees building their own houses near the Township. Bhelpur model
township scheme was framed and at that time there was a cement
scarcity and permits are to be obtained from the Collector for getting
cement quota. VRD wrote to Shri Srinivasan, the Collector {he later
resigned and joined Indian Express - he was an MBA from Honolulu, where
our Planning Engineer G.Narayanan also studied) and got bulk permit for the
construction work.

The MD Auditorium was the brain child of VRD. Though there was some
delay in finishing the building it will be among others the standing
monument of VRD's vision. Originally it was planned with AC facilities with
ducts etc. But due to delay and cost escalation, the air-conditioning had to
be abandoned. Independence Day Park was expanded to cover the full
length of the Township. Illumination and band music were arranged on
Independence / Republic Days.VRD thought that PSUs with its management

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and administrative skills could do much for rural development. A village
was adopted for development.

Water taps were provided in the nearby hamlets.Small bridges were built.
He used to say : "one crore of more money to Union Govt. may not mean
much. But the same one Crore may mean so much progress in the nearby
villages". This was this philosophy which reflected in his action.

He had great regard for Teachers and he was keen that the schools in the
campus should provide quality education to children studying there.
Additional teachers were appointed in Govt. aided schools at BHEL cost
to cope up with increasing number of students and to maintain a
reasonable Teacher / Pupil ratio. (The Scheme is in vogue even now but the
emoluments of such teachers have stagnated for the last several years).

Sept5- Teachers' Day was celebrated in all the Schools and a high tea was
arranged when all the teachers participated. Gifts were given.Of course
accommodation was provided to some teachers in each school and medical
aid was given in BHEL hospital A donation by way of shawls was given to the
teachers in Tiruchy through the DEO. (The high tea and the donation of
shawls were suspended after some time).Sweets were distributed in the
Leprosy Colony in Devarayaneri (Tiruchy - Tanjore Highway). The scale was
reduced later!)Employment of widows of employees dying in harness was in
vogue in the early days. But this could not be continued. To relieve the
problem a vocational center was started in the North Gate Cycle shed, where
through a co-op. society they were engaged in tasks like ammonia printing
etc.Tracing work was also offloaded. Another social welfare measure during
VRD's period.
A Labour Coop Society was formed and it supplied labour to BHEL - instead
of labour contractors. Another innovation. This experiment he carried out
most successfully in MRL.

When the need for an arts college was felt (for Township and boys/girls of
the nearby villages), BHEL gave several acres of land.But being a Govt.
College, there was no growth for several years. When there was a demand
for a mosque in the Township an area opposite to the temple complex (the
present day deer park - northern end) was earmarked. One evening when I
went to the temple, I saw some flag poles marking a boundary. When I

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enquired I was told about the mosque to be built there. Next day I broached
the subject to VRD and told him it may lead to problems as during the
festival season in Ayyappan temple, there will be lot of noise and this may
lead to friction. He immediately accepted the point and the present site was
chosen. Of course the land was surrendered to the Govt and re-allotted to
Mosque. This is only to show how he was receptive to ideas from
subordinates.

The Ranipet expansion also took place during VRD's period. When the site
selection was going on - in consultation with State Govt. officials - he laid
three or four conditions. Apart from land with sufficient water supply, good
roads, BG Track and within a radius of 50/60 KM from airport.
Thus, Tuticorin, Pondicherry and Ranipet were short listed. Tuticorin was
later dropped. Between Pondicherry and Ranipet, Ranipet was chosen as it
was within Tamil Nadu. During the discussions on the layout one point
which took a long time to decide was the location of the Administration block
whether to have it outside the Factory as in Tiruchy or inside the factory.
The initial years of Ranipet saw the problem of land owners whose land was
acquired for the setting up of the Plant. The State Govt, unlike in the case
of Tiruchy Plant, did not give the land free of cost.

VRD told me an interesting story about the location of the Plant,


much later. Mr.Warrier was the CMD at that time. He had told VRD that the
approval for the new Plant would be given immediately if it was located at
Tiruchy itself (like SSTP) ! In spite of our desire to get the approval early,
VRD did not accept the proposal. He stood his ground and insisted that the
Plant was to be located at a place away from the mother plant at Tiruchy. At
last VRD succeeded. It seems Mr.Warrier had told this incident to VK and
wondered how tough a man was VRD !

(I forgot to mention about the establishment of Death Relief Fund -a unique


scheme first introduced in Tiruchy Unit and later adopted by all the other
Units) and the introduction of Grievance Redressal Procedure.While the DRF
is successful the Grievance Redressed Procedure has fallen into disuse. The
chapter on Personnel and IR has to discuss this issue more fully and this will
be a remembrance).

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At least two instances of humanitarian gesture by VRD I would mention
There was a worker with artificial leg who wanted to meet ED. We checked
his back ground and the reasons for requesting a meeting with ED. He has
been asking to be sent to Pune (to an Army Centre) to change his artificial
limb. There were administrative problems. (No rules no Precedent!) He met
ED explained his case and his request was granted and it was also decided
to refer such cases to the Artificial Limb Centre, Pune, at periodical intervals,
as per the recommendation.(I think he was given leave, TA, DA and
reimbursement of the charges for a fresh limb).

In another case, the Dentist suspected oral cancer in an employee and


recommended that he should be referred to Tata Cancer Centre. There was
no precedent. But ED allowed the employee to proceed to Bombay and the
Dentist was asked to accompany the employee. For Psychiatric treatment a
Doctor in Madurai was identified (Dr.Venkoha Rao?) and cases were referred
to him. When an officer requested for a transfer to Madras to get specialist
treatment, this was acceded. {This may be a normal policy now. But I
refer to the first instances).

On the conduct of children’s Exhibition, Volley Ball Tournament, Chess


Tournament etc. there was some criticism at the local level - wastage of
resources and some amount of resentment at the corporate level. This he
ignored.

Some off loading was done on SIT, Ariyamangalam. BHEL in turn got two
seats in the Dip. Course for BHEL employees wards. First to be admitted
was Personnel Recruitment Krishnaji's son. When there was a demand from
a Personnel Officer for his son, the preference was given to the son of the
clerk (Krishnaji).So also some off-loading work was given to Sri
Ramakrishna Kudil, Tiruparaithurai, a free orphanage.

Building-79 was planned and designed for eight floors and three floors were
built at the first instance.

The CE technology absorption was going on and Production Engineer


Department was reorganized as OP&C. Engineers were sent to CE for 500
MW boilers in large numbers. SVS who was on a visit to Tiruchy gave a bulk
approval for so many man days.

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The HO became CO under VK and it slowly started assuming more and more
control over units. Slowly there was an erosion of the freedom of the Unit
Heads. Under VK the unit chiefs enjoyed his confidence like VRD, Naidu and
Wahi we don't know much about Bhopal. But we were told that when VK
took over, there was stagnation and a huge back log of promotions at
Bhopal - compared to Tiruchy. It was on the verge becoming sick.

VK played a crucial role in bringing it back to life. K.R.Parameswar became


Chief of P&D and the Planning group was strengthened. So also the finance,
monitoring and other areas.VK, SVS made a very good team. One
supplemented and complemented the other. There was unity in thinking
and vigor in execution. SVS issued a circular (printed and circulated
among the executives) suggesting a long scale instead of promotion. It was
interesting. (It will be a revelation if we can get a copy of the same). One
more innovation was to have some technical people identified who will
not have the financial and administrative powers. I forgot the exact
designation, but Dr.Vasudevan and S.Sridharan had such designations.MHD
was established with the support of DAE and Russian technology.

There was some initial success. But finding suitable high temperature
material blocked its further progress as an alternative to coal fired
systems. The entire investment has gone waste and the Project abandoned.
Of course the death of Dr.V.R.Rama Prasad was a death blow to the Project.
The successive GM, could not revive the project. From the beginning it was
attached to R&DIHyderabad and Tiruchy Unit provided only the
infrastructure.

A new EDP Centre came up. N.T.Srinivasan (of Accounts - who later
went to Corporate Office and became Chief of Bureau of Industrial Cost and
Pricing) was the brain behind and A.Krishnan prepared the Project Report
and was responsible for the execution.

LRP assumed importance during VRD's period. It became the think tank and
the technical wing of ED's Secretariat. A Krishnan became the trouble
shooter and spent lot of time after office hours with ED. It was a 12 hour
routine. 8 am to 8 pm. Besides I had to go to Railway Station / Airport

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to see off / receive, to go to GH during VIP's visit to coordinate the
shop visit etc.

The old (Govt) mindset of the Finance (previously Accounts) people was
changed by SVS. He told once that if the chief wanted to serve liquor (there
was total prohibition of serving liquor in PSUs) the Finance should not raise
objections and it was their duty to find out the means of accounting it.
In Tiruchy liquor was served when foreign dignitaries were given lunch
I/dinner. The licence was obtained in the personal name of the GM/ED and
liquor was purchased from Chintamani. It was kept under lock and key in
the Kaveri Guest House and the key was in the personal custody of ED.
Ramalingam the GH Manager told me that VRD will give a silent signal -
when to serve and when to stop.

But VRD entertained the CE Chief and others in his house with Indian
special food and served in a plantain leaf arranged in the lawns of his
house. As AKrishnan used to say most of the ticklish issues were discussed
and resolved during such private dinners, VRD hosted in his house. VRD
in his characteristic way used to introduce us (me and Coral) to the CE
Chief and others. There was complete and total understanding. It was
Coral's daily job to give ED of the list of appointments, engagements and the
list of persons who rang up / wanted to meet ED. I used to take dictation
or prepare drafts and Coral would do the typing.

VRD wanted all facilities to be given to officials of State and Central Govt. He
was weary of politicians. Though he met them and took them
(important ones) to the factory, he rarely yielded to the pressure from
politicians for favors. When a PA to the Minister (State) wrote to him asking
for reappointment of an employee removed from service, he asked me to
write a letter explaining the case and expressing regret. The letter went
under my signature !VRD asked us to purchase four sets of collected works
of Gandhiji - three for each. One of the Hr. Sec. Schools and one set for ED's
Office. (This was later given to the Mat. HSS) . He also purchased three
sets of Encyclopedia Britannica for the three HSS. When KV Jagannathan
wrote to him a letter that some of his Tamil books were available for sale, he
ordered three sets for the schools.

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He wanted his speeches during Independence day and Republic Day
parades to highlight the sacrifices made during the freedom struggle. He
wanted a story out of the history of the freedom to be told to the students.
He was the best PRO, yet shunned publicity. He was discreet in accepting
/ responding to invitations for public functions. He told us that he would
attend one function per year from a technical institution. He visited Karaikudi
once. He listened to people but never indicated his mind. He took his own
time to assess and to come to conclusions.But he was very firm. I had never
seen him ruffled. He never arranged more than one meeting per day. He
never allowed crowded programmers.He never met the suppliers'
representatives. He has told us that they should meet MM and if there was
any problem they can meet GMO(FB) and that was the end. There was no
need for courtesy calls.

There was one major strike during this period. A private bus met with an
accident in the level crossing on the road leading to Bldg-24. The bus was
carrying employees after the shift. I think two employees died. This led to
strike. The main demand was that BHEL should run buses. This was
not agreed to by the company as its policy was that employees
should use the public transport and it would ensure with the State Govt. for
more buses. Talks were held with State Govt officials and the Contract bus
system came into vogue. BHEL gave some loan to the CRC (then so
named) and new buses were purchased. Routes were finalized. The
parking space opp. Bldg-24 I Main Gate was arranged. R.Krishnamurthy of
WRI coordinated with Personnel Branch. During the strike VRD went
to Madras for discussions with State Govt. Mr.Sridhar took charge in his
absence. He used to stand near the hand clasp to help willing employees
came to factory. His presence at that point had a telling effect. It was
reassuring and employees came to work in large numbers. But in the
meantime a settlement was arrived at and the strike withdrawn.During
another strike we stayed in the Office for more than three days.

For running two canteen services, outsiders were brought. (This was
done on one or occasions).Employees suspected that we are harboring
workers in Bldg-24.After the second shift they marched to Bldg-24 and
opened doors of rooms to verify. ED's Office Peon Kaliaperumal
jumped from Commercial Conference Hall to the ground. He was
also attacked.He had a knee injury. At that time we (Antony Dorai,

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S.varadarajan,Jayachandran, Rajasekaran, A.Krishnan and myself) were in
Sr Conference Hall / ED's Office, Chairman's Room. I moved to Junior
Conference Hall. When I heard the noise - banging on the doors - I
jumped to the ground level as I was alone. C.S. Raghunathan and Kamath
were in LRP discussing. The workers did not disturb them. They had kept
the door open.

There were large scale stone throwing in the Township and officers were
targeted. Some officers had blood injuries. A flower pot was thrown at the
DSP near Bldg-24. He escaped. There was dissatisfaction among the
executives. In a meeting held in the Seminar Hall there was a demand for
filing cases against the employees / union leaders.. In the meantime,
messages were sent to Corporate Office and Ministry of Industry.(Mr.VK
had become the Secretary to Govt.) VK wrote a strong letter to the
Chief Secretary (Mr.Karthikeyan). Mr.Devaram was the DIG at Tiruchy at
that time. Of course the police explained it away. Later the cases were
withdrawn as the Govt. wanted it and many were not willing to testify in a
court. The management also felt that it was not prudent to prolong the
case which will embitter the relationship. Again there was resentment
among the executives. A detailed strike plan with the Police was drawn up.

It was also laid down that employees in Township should came via Double
carriage road etc. There was a very good communication network
among the unions. Contract buses became vulnerable. Manjathidal bridge
(Kailash Nagar area - full of plantains and the striking employees threw
stones. At every bus stop there was problem for the employees to board
the bus. RK (WRI) positioned himself in a hotel room in Tiruchy and
monitored. The buses were diverted via OFT. There was some stone
throwing at the buses which came in a convoy with police escort.After the
incident (of employees entering Bldg-24 end attacking) armed guards were
posted for some years, to Bldg-24.But the strike situation were very tricky.
The strikes / bandh were held for different reasons - on many occasions
extraneous to company affairs - Ceylon problem, Hindi agitation, the
annual(!?) CITU calls against the Central Govt. etc. It all depends whether
the State Govt. supports it or not. When only the opposition calls for
bandlh / strike, the Police will help and there will be split among the
unions.But where the State Govt. calls for a bandh, it would be prudent to
stay away. There is no use blaming the Police. We cannot expect them to

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protect every individual. Prosecution or even Departmental action is not
possible in all cases.

We have to live with them and work with them. The first demand after every
strike would be withdrawal of cases / action and regularization of absence.
The management has to wait and almost all the cases gave in - except
the maxim : "No work No Pay". Disciplinary action was rare. It never
pays. But in the initial stages persons like Vivekanandan, Aravindakshan
were either terminated or transferred for other causes. Of course Ayappa
could throw more light on the policy adopted and the rationale behind it.

Regarding the transport problem a plan was prepared to run a train by the
BG siding to be extended from RPS up to Bldg-24 (opposite to Bldg-53 on
the RPS side) and a station was to come here. But Railways could not agree
to this proposal as the BG Railway line (the only BG line at that time) had to
cross the Goods Yard and reach GOC from where the siding starts. It was
not technically feasible to lay such a line - space near the yard was also a
constraint. It was dropped. It may be feasible now.

The fatal accidents in BHEL were rare, thanks to the efforts of Safety
Engineering. Safety exhibitions, safety equipment, awareness campaign and
the Safety stewards scheme-involving employees. The British Safety Council
Chairman (I forgot his name) came and appreciated our efforts. The sword
given by the British Safety Count was won more than once. Safety awards
at the State I National level were a regularly wo11. VRD encouraged A
Doraiswamy in all his efforts.

Also the Training Centre won several medals at the national level in the
competition held for Artisans. The medal-winning Apprentices were absorbed
in the company.

The collapse of the Nuclear Building under construction was a major


accident. Fortunately no one was hurt. There was a faulty design or the
construction did not meet the standards.It was a tall building and the roof
collapsed. An enquiry was held by a very senior civil engineer (Mr.Ghelot)
and action was taken against a few engineers including
Mr.Veeraraghavachari.

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At least two major changes took place at Delhi.

VK became Secretary to Govt. and SVS, the CMD of BHEL. VK was


negotiating with Siemens for an 'umbrella agreement' for various products
and services for maintaining the primacy of BHEL in the power and allied
sectors - for continuous updating of technology etc. This was not to
the liking of some in BHEL. And a booklet was published by the CPI{M),
MP, P.Ramamurthy criticizing the Agreement with Siemens. This was
'reviewed' in The Hindu. The booklet was circulated in large numbers.
The Communist lobby criticized the Agreement and made an issue and
raised a hue and cry about it.
For some reasons,not known, SVS was relieved from the post of CMD, BHEL.
VK acted as CMD till the new man was posted. The parting of ways of SVS
and VK was a blow to BHEL and especially to Tiruchy Unit. It is
another matter that this Agreement with Siemens was in fact entered into
through not as an umbrella Agreement,but in phases, in parts. The
communists had a field day during the Indira Gandhi regime. Their
programmes were implemented by the Indira Gandhi Govt. as it wanted to
show its socialist learning. Nationalisation of Coal Mines, Banks, Insurance,
sick Mills - all scripted by communists and enacted by the Congress.
Communists even supported the imposition of Emergency in its early days.
But the opposition to MNCs like Siemens was the cause of this controversy.
I am not aware about the products covered - mostly Hardwar
products. How far the criticism was justified - whether BHEL could have
grown or attained the present status without the Siemens technology - or
in other words, whether the Agreement has caused harm to the interests of
BHEL as a company or to the nation; whether we gained or lost; whether
the 'umbrella agreement' would have served the company better - would
have to be analyzed and answered by men in the know of things.It is not
only whether the Siemens technology was costly or prohibitive, but also
whether it stood in the way of BHEL developing / acquiring other
superior technology. There is a price for everything and we can get nothing
free. The policy of VK was to get the 'best' in each field and then to develop
them as in-house capabilities. Perhaps BHEL could develop
Siemens / CE technology at lesser cost in-house- but the time factor is
significant. BHEL by going in for foreign technologies at the early stages
had 25 years before it faced real competitionfrom MNCs - at the time of
liberalization / globalization. If BHEL, Tiruchy's example / experiment

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/experience is any guide, we can gain much from such association
without surrendering our individuality or interests. We should be a little
magnanimous in judging the past. Unless the decisions were prompted by
selfishness and with an ulterior motive, we may not question the wisdom of
past decisions. "The spirit of any age does not ask to be judged - that spirit
only asks to be understood and the understanding has to extend to its
effects". Again, "As every individual has his individuality events have
theirs". In judging the past we have to do a lot of reconstruction and any
amount of reconstruction may not fully reveal the truth. Past is frozen, no
doubt, but frozen in its circumstances and environment too. History repeats
itself - but not in its entirety challenges are always new and our
responses have to be new to achieve positive results. Communists though
they talk as if they are the saviors of PSUs and of the workers, their
policies and programmers cause harm to the interests of PSUs and of
workers in general. VRD called me to his room and informed me about
SVS's exit. Even if the main actors speak of the past, we may not get at
the truth. If possible let us analyse the events objectively and draw
appropriate lessons, bearing out the individuals.

After sometime VK was removed from the post of Secretary to Govt. This
caused much resentment at Tiruchy. A meeting of senior officers was called
at the Sr. Conference Hall and a resolution was passed against the action of
the Govt. It was politics.

One thing VRD was very clear. Don't go too close to politicians. You may
be very friendly with lAS / IPS officials - but not with politicians. His
personal friendship with Collectors, SPs/ DIGs helped the organization
well. These department level officials after sometime occupied positions of
importance at the central/state levels and it helped the organization. Any
request from the officials at the District level was considered favorably and
wherever possible accommodated. In fact there were not any demands
which would cause embarrassment. Politicians in power were temporary
and their loyalty to the cause is questionable. But politicians were kept in
good humour - at a distance. They were given the due respect. They were
accommodated in the GH. They were listened. It also helped. On many
occasions Anbil Dharmalingam's help was sought in dealing with union
problems. S.Varadarajan was the emissary. Rarely ED came into the
picture. MLAs, MPs, Ministers, leaders of political parties - from opposition

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met ED often to canvas some cause, in support of union demands etc. All
courtesy and protocol - but very little was done. One MP met me very
often and pleaded that at least one or two of his candidates should be
given employment. I had a tough time, explaining the company's policies on
recruitment. He was also plainly helpless in resisting the pressure from his
constituency. He understood ED used to say that when MLAs met him
privately on union demands, they used to discuss all issues - but later when
the union leaders (who all along waited outside) joined the meeting the
tone and tenor would differ and assurances would be made or the known
position of the Management would be reiterated with a promise to
reconsider. Even the Union leaders understood - but again they have to
satisfy their constituents. It is a perfect game cleverly played by all sides.
Now and then certain decisions are announced as concessions based on
their demands. When things became really hot the politicians will drop you
as a hot potato.

But later VK was given the task of building Maruti and later to bring a turn
around SAIL - in both cases he was successful. He was the first man to
break the ice and bring Japanese into India. SAIL turn around was a
miracle. It all goes to prove that his innate ability and vision - not merely
circumstantial or a temporary. His clout with the top bureaucrats and
the confidence they had in his ability gave strength. He planned in a big
way. He pinpointed the problem with the Steel plants and the Govt.
granted several thousands of crores for the changing the blast furnaces
(?) and for installation of new machinery etc. (There was an article
I/interview in the India Today of the 80s where VK has given huge
experience in BHEL, Maruti and SAIL. It contained wealth of information
and if we can get hold of a copy of that issue it would help.) This is to
mention that VK's ascendancy was not a mere chance or because of
luck. It was no mean task to build institutions like BHEL or Maruti or to bring
a total transformation of SAIL and salvage out of 'red'.Each steel plant was
unique and had problems peculiar to it.It was told that he cut down OT -
with the concurrence (or in spite of the opposition from) Unions. His success
lay (apart from his innate abilities) in identifying talents and entrusting jobs
to men of proven ability. He was always successful in building a formidable
team around him and the gained the confidence of workers at all levels.It
was a pity that the nation lost his services as the Secretary to Govt. and

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later as a Member of the Planning Commission) and BHEL, Tiruchy lost a
patron in Delhi, in his exit.

VRD liked to project not only BHEL but also India and the Tamil Nadu to
outsiders. A dinner (moon light) was arranged at the Grand Anaicut site for
very important persons from CE and others. Furniture and cooked food
from Guest House was transported and arranged at the site. He used to
explain the details about the GA. The change of site – an open place on
the banks of the river and the historic importance of the place - make the
dinner memorable. Slowly this practice was given up later.

Again VVIPs from abroad had a glimpse of the folk art - Karagam, Poikkal
Kudirai, etc. at the Kaveri Guest House. There were Bharatanatya recital
and also 'qwuali' (Hindi) programmes of short durations. The visitors
enjoyed these items immensely.The artistes from Thanjavur were given
special allowance for stitching new garments / dresses for the occasion.

Tanjore plates, Nataraja Sivakami Icons, brass, ivory, sandalwood items,


paintings of rural scenes were given as gift items. A write up on the
significance / symbolism of Nataraja was prepared by Kamath and printed
for distribution with the icons. Cashew nuts, fresh tea, Woriyur cigars were
also given depending upon the taste. Silk ties were purchased in bulk from
Bangalore (through lyappa) and given . When a large party of Libyans
came in a special plane, elaborate arrangements were made to receive
them, entertain them and suit bits of Khadi silk were given.Visit to
Thanjavur and Madurai and Kodaikanal were regularly arranged for
foreigners. A big book containing photos of Indian temple architecture
and icons of various ages was kept in ED's office. The temple car made of
paddy was kept at the lobby. Garlands of paddy and cardamom were
offered. Foreigners liked the flower garlands for its colour and handicraft.
Bouquets of the traditional style were offered. He never took the visitors to
the hotels. It was a later aberration. GH or his own house - or at the GA
were the locations and the fare was purely local. He engaged a special cook
to cook Chinese food to the visitor from Malaysia.

He did not make any change to the decor of ED's/CMD's room or to our
Office - Conference Halls etc. These were maintained as RSK / VK left them.
The model room was refurnished and the viewing theatre was added.

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The slide show was organized -a very careful and elaborate selection was
made and the text / music were changed many times before it was
finalized. He asked our suggestions also. After the model room and the
factory visit, the visitors were taken to the 'theatre' by the other
entrance from the Main Gate. This created an impression that it was
another part (and not a part of the model room). Guest lists for the lunch /
dinner with dignitaries was carefully drawn and the menu finalized by
himself. Apart from the regular diary, a Planner's Diary was printed and
distributed by Tiruchy Unit - on the model of CE's Planner's Diary.

VRD met individually all the Engineers who went abroad. He encouraged
young engineers. Even for negotiation or finalization of contract details with
customers, young men were deputed. M.P.Ramasamy, M.R. Ganesan,
Namasivaym and many other young engineers visited foreign countries for
discussion with customers.When a large contingent (about 150 of ETs were
posted for training, some (four I think) GAs of the earlier batches were sent
to Training Centre for training them. G.R.Krishnamurthy first batch GA, a
Dy Manager was made in-charge of Bldg-50 and Varadarajan, The Manager /
Personnel was made the head of Personnel. Kathiresan Dy Manger / Finance
was posted in charge of Administration, Civil\Hospital Admin. and Vigilance.
VRD's confidence in the young people and the risk he took in making them
as HODs is evident. In turn they proved their worth. A.Krishnan was a
Manager when he joined LRP.

VRD had a knack of identifying talent and entrusting them with


additional responsibilities. Leaving the routine day to day affairs to the
competent people, he concentrated in activities which are not in the domain
of others. He was the best PRO. The feel good factor which was evident
since its inception had a beating after the strike by unions when they
'invaded' Bldg-24. The officers were dissatisfied with the way the cases were
handled. Each unpleasant incident causes further unpleasantness and it is a
spiral. Management as a major partner has always to come down to bring
normalcy. Especially in PSUs the problems are compounded. The strike and
its after mail had a deleterious effect and it was a blot. The election to the
Joint Committee introduces inter union rivalries. It was at that time the
SC/ST employees started to enter as a group in the union affairs. Some
officers were behind it. The probation of one Doctor was (Dr.Vetrivel)
terminated when he indulged in some unwanted activities (taking

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medicines). He belonged to SC community. There was some murmur and
a few employees joined to represent. The doctor was ultimately taken
back. But the group gained strength and wanted separate identity. This
was the beginning. Now they are represented in the Joint Committee as a
separate entity. Tiruchy always discouraged trade groups (except Welders
Association). It wanted one union to represent all employees. It was an
ideal situation.

There was some problem about Muslim employees doing Namaz on Friday
afternoon during working hours. A place was reserved for them in the
factory. Slowly sporting beards and wearing caps became visible symbols of
another group emerging. Every group wants a separate identity other than
a member of the organization / Trade Union. This all depended on the
individual HODs. Puttanna, OV Muhammed and later Harsha made their
mark in the development of facilities in the Township. Some conventions
were established over the years. Garlanding of Gandhi statue, Nehru
and RSK and later Ambedkar became established. The programmes
at CC on Republic Days and Independence Days were well received. The
honoring of individual employees started after the good work done by our
Fire station staff during the flood came to be recognized with a silver medal.
Slowly the no. grew and also the purposes. School children for academic
achievements, safety, quality, suggestion, sports - the no. grew. More
the number the lesser the value. Slowly pressure grew and all kinds of
demands were put forward. Some serious thinking is required to restrict the
number to enhance the merit of the award.

K.L.Puri took over as CMD. He did not hide his political learnings. He wore
Gandhi cap on occasions. Political compulsions. His immediate task was to
remove people who were VK loyalists. M.R.Naidu from Hyderabad was
moved to Delhi.His assistant in the Planning group was moved to Tiruchy.
VRD was asked to go to Delhi. He wanted time. At the end of one month
transfer orders were issued, posting him as ED P&D. After sometime he
came to Madras and then left BHEL to join MRL. Naidu also left to join BHPV
-later HMT. M.K.Sridhar who was posted to Libya came back to join Tiruchy
as ED. (I forgot to mention about repeat orders from Malaysia and a major
order - Rs.100 cr. From Libya). (One complaint by INTUC men to K.L.Puri
was that VRD accommodated Morarji Desai (Ex-PM) in Kaveri Guest House).

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VRD was very clear about this. As Ex-PM we have to extend all facilities
- no matter which party whether Govt liked it or not.

I go back again to mention about some rationalization / standardization in


the matter of 'dates' of promotion, increments, retirement, wage period and
payment of coins during pay distribution. Rly factories make payment based
on Punching / Time Card which are closed on 30th or 31st and wages
paid on 7th - No assumed attendance and adjustment in the
subsequent month. BHEL adopted a different system. The wage period was
fixed from 25th to 24th. Similarly, the dates of promotion was fixed in 25th
June (all cases except at very high levels).Similarly dates of increment were
fixed on 25th June and December. The problem of payment of coins during
wage payment was solved by coin adjustment. These were the initiatives of
SVS Raghavan and this was a clear departure from the practices adopted
by BHEL from Railways.

Shri SVS also introduced the system of closing accounts up to November so


that the final closing would be finished fast. Both SVS and later
V.S.Chakrapani till took keen interest in the total administration of BHEL,
rather than isolate themselves as Chief of Finance. A Finance man (though
he belonged to IAS Cadre) heading an engineering organization was a novel
thing in those days. Of course Mr.K.G.Ramachandran did it successfully in
later years. SVS proved his mettle later as Chairman of STC and MMTC and
still later as Advisor to Govt. for specific assignments and for short periods.
It was unfortunate he had to leave BHEL after a short stint.

VRD did not want to give any impression that he wanted to prolong his stay
in Tiruchy. CMD, we were told, was apprehensive whether the workers would
revolt (at the instigation of VRD) - To allay such fears, VRD handed over
charge to Shri M.K.Sridhar immediately on receipt of the order. He
informed very few people of his departure plans. Still there were a few
people at the airport to see him off. The performance of 210 MW Unit and
the auxiliary equipment especially fans was not good. While the 500 MW unit
at Trombay performed well, the 210 MW Units gave a lot of trouble. There
were frequent tube leakages and consigned forced outages. This drew a lot
of criticism from the customers and even MPs raised the issue in Parliament.

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The Technical Services division in Engineering and the SAS were created to
help the customers in identifying the problem, suggesting remedial measure
and undertaking repair work.

K.L.Puri was a good PR man and he wanted quick action on customer


complaints. Some units caused frequent trouble and persons from
Engineering (Mr.Narayanan) were posted there. The output from Fans (KKK
Design) was not up to the standard. There were problems in balancing and
vibration was very much. The power consumption by the Auxiliaries also
caused concern.

Over the years the Technical Services Group earned a very good name
under the leadership of Shri P.G.Chandramouli. He had established rapports
with the Chiefs of EBs and his advice and suggestions were appreciated and
implemented. The FSS and the SAS gave ground support in trouble
shooting and problem solving. Men of experience - promotees from
shop floor manned the SAS Group and their services received
appreciation.But there were problems in design engineering and at one
point Mr.Sridhar was so exasperated he said. "Are KKK our collaborator or
are they learning from us?". MKS sent Dr.Vasudevan to Bhadravati,
Narayanan to Sabarmati and like this he entrusted the problem units to key
personnel.

Sequential dispatches was another area which required Sridhar's immediate


attention. Columns and drum would be in site but without foundation bolts .
Mr.Sridhar was a man of action. He shouted at people, banged on the table
and expressed his displeasure in no uncertain term.

The first job he did was to introduce several MIS formats more than a score
/ two dozen. He concentrated on two things:

1) Customer satisfaction, action on customer complaints / ensuring


timely / sequential dispatches.

2) Stabilizing SSTP operation. He found that more the Plant produced, the
more the loss. Losses increased in direct proportion to increase in
production.

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The main reason for losses in SSTP may be due to high cost of raw material
/ billets- with reference to assumptions made in the Project Report.
Indigenous cost of raw materials equivalent to cost of imported finished
tubes. The pricing policy of tubes sold to Boiler Plant. Technical snags in SST
Plant operational problems frequent breakdown making continuous operation
were not possible. (I am not aware of the present position). Mr.Sridhar was
simply exasperated. Added to these problems were the problems caused by
the work force. While they lacked the discipline required in a continuously
operating process plant, they wanted all the benefits of Boiler Plant
employees plus special benefits for working in a Process Plant.

While the captive supply to Boiler Plant was not profitable, marketing to
outside customers posed problems of price and quality rejections were
heavy.

Again during the time of Mr.Sridahr's captaincy, Ranipet Plant also caused
problems; the problem of employment to persons whose lands were
acquired. In anticipation of employment, lands were divided among family
members. The district administration was not of much help. There was
some political interference also. There was some law and order problems. By
his sustained efforts Mr.Sridhar, brought in some discipline in all fronts -
timely and sequential dispatches and attention to customer complaints.
Another problem during his period was the funds crunch. But here we have
to go into the history a little.

In the early days, the Units received the payment from the customers and
used the funds for making payments to suppliers, salary payment etc.After
sometime, the Corporate Office got hold of the control of all funds -
centralized cash management.It had its benefits - best use of funds
available. But the units lost the freedom and the flexibility to appropriate
funds to different heads of expenditure, depending upon the local needs and
priorities.

Mr.Sridhar had to speak to Director / Finance or someone in Corporate


Finance daily and ask for funds. It was a daily ritual. He sent teams of
commercial people to various customers to collect the dues. But these
collection went into the common basket - appropriated at the discretion
of Corporate finance staff.

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Again foreign exchange was not freely available. Today it is difficult to
imagine the problems faced by the unit in procuring foreign exchange to
sustain imports. At some point of time there was a total absence of foreign
exchange and the Controller of Imports & Exports refused to release funds.
The pre-liberalisation restriction such as permits, license and quota severely
restricted the freedom of the manufacturers.

Thus Mr.Sridhar had to fight on all fronts - he liked the challenges.


He had inexhaustible energy and he never liked to work late into the
evenings and Sundays were holidays for him. While VK and VRD left office
only around 7- 8 pm, Sridhar never stayed beyond 6 pm. VK and VRD
attended office invariably in all Sundays (if they were in town). Sridhar
never asked us to attend office on a single Sunday. He had a very sharp
intellect- he could grasp things in a second and will be ahead of you in
coming to conclusion and giving decisions. You cannot hold his attention
for more than a minute or so. If you stay beyond the time, he will start
seeing / signing papers. He expected people to be sharp and to the point.
He had several sources to cross check and verify. Information was
available on his fingertips. He can say which component of which boiler
was at what stage. He cannot be fooled. He dictated fast and his English
was good. He will ask for a draft from a department and if there was any
delay, he will dictate it himself. If he got one free moment in his office
he will walk in to the rooms of GM/O or Commercial Manager. He did not
like to participate in formal lunches / dinners. He wanted to spend the
spare hours with his family - he used to go to film more often than any of his
predecessors. He did not want to occupy the ED's bungalow as it was
isolated and cut off from the main stream. We got a Dictaphone for
our Office. He took the tape recorders during one of his foreign tours and
dictated the tour notes while traveling in the flight. But we could not type
out of the tape due to background noise. He wanted to finish the tour
report before he landed here so that he could get into action immediately -
but this was not possible. He invariably asked us in his office our
requirements during his foreign trips and he purchased and gifted us many
things un-asked. He used his own car to come to office. He never utilized
the office car driver for this purpose. He drove his car himself and he waited
for me at the portico downstairs to take me home. I tried to avoid this as I
like to walk back home - but he insisted that I leave the office along with

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him. He was impatient for results. If the work at Tiruchy as head of unit
gave him some challenge, the work as a Director at Corporate Office
was merely ornamental for him. I cannot close my memories of him
without mentioning one incident : Mr.Sridhar's daughter had appeared for
XII Std Public Examination (CBSC pattern). We, in ED's Office, used to get
the results of CBSE Public Examinations in advance through the Corporate
Office (Mr.M.Narayanaswamy, Secretary helped us). Usually the CBSE sent
the mark lists by post to Schools and the students / parents used to get the
results after a week or 10 days after its publication in Delhi. Hence this
service. That year Mr.Sridhar's daughter passed the examination and
had obtained All India First Rank (Now the ranks are not given). We
informed Mr.Sridhar who was in his room.We were almost jubilant. But
he received the information with such coolness that we were astonished.
Certainly there was no way he knew it earlier. We on our own called his
wife and daughter at home and connected him.

Another problem faced by Mr.Sridhar as ED was the problem of power.


During summer power units/planned/unplanned shut down was very
frequent and production suffered in the Plant and in the ancillaries. He wrote
several letters to Chairman/TNEB and officials from Tiruchy met TNEB
Officials requesting exemption for Tiruchy Plant as an essential industry.
But it was not considered. It was a very critical time.

Soon after this he was posted as Director at Delhi. Only with great difficulty
he could admit his daughter in the Engineering College as she had
not written the entrance examination ! Even though some amount of
rural development work was undertaken by BHEL around, a special
impetus was given by the 20 Point Plan announced by Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi. Tree planting, construction of Noon Meal centers,
community halls, medical camps in association with State Govt. was
undertaken. Previously a group consisting of workers and Administration
was formed as Grama Valarchi Pani Kuzhu was formed to coordinate the
work in villages. 20 Point Plan came into operation during Mr.Sridhar's time.
But after a few years when the Govt. changed the momentum slowed and it
died later. This was mostly a political programme. CMD (Mr.Puri) was the
force behind this.

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Mr.Puri also introduced the system of weekly communication meeting in the
Corporate Office and in Units. All HODs were invited and the group met for
an hour or so. Important issues were discussed.This provided an opportunity
for discussing topical issues and there was opportunity for HODs to
participate in the decision making process. At the Corporate level there
was a Management Committee or the Executive Committee which consisted
of all EDs (previously GMs) and GMs in charge of units, Corporate HODs and
Directors and CMD. This group met once a month. This provided an
opportunity to unit heads to have interaction with other unit heads -
otherwise each unit will become islands.

Mr.Puri introduced another programme- a Cultural Mela - called Kala Milan


annually in which teams from all the units participated and presented
cultural fare. It was conducted for three to four years and was later stopped.
Vigilance Department became a separate function and persons were drawn
from localpolice. Security was always headed by an outsider- for the first
few years by departments from the State Police and later persons from Rlys,
BSF, CRPF, etc.

At one point of time when Industrial Security Force was formed, there was a
proposal to hand over security functions to CISF. But this was dropped.
Bhopal and Hardwar had given the task to CISF.

Later only the security of the Township was given to a private


security agency. Mr.Sridhar viewed the cases of termination due to
unauthorized absence and many persons (workers) were taken back.
Another important and significant development during Mr.Sridhar’s regime
was the starting of Ancillaries for the BAP, Ranipet by BHEL Engineers
/Employees. Previously employees resigned before starting work in
ancillaries. But this time, employees / engineers routed their
applications through BHEL and worked for one year before they resigned
i.e. they took the initial steps while working in BHEL. Many Engineers left
BHEL to start the ancillaries. They had had necessary skills / expertise.
They had knowledge about the product and they had held responsible
positions in the company. These qualification would it was hoped, help in
obtaining better products from the ancillaries. This entrepreneurial
development was held as a model. But how far it was successful should be
studied now. How many industries have succeeded and how many

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employees have held till date and what was the experience of BAP in matters
of quality, reliability and delivery of this class of entrepreneurs is to be
studied.

I have not mentioned about the third phase expansion. Bldg-50 was
constructed under the II Phase expansion - For the adoption of CE
technology and changes were effected in Bldg-1 also. There was the third
phase expansion also. Transfer of Mills to Hyderabad and other products
like Fans, Air heaters and ESP, has changed the profile of Tiruchy Plant.
The introduction of 500 MW technology needed special machinery (Planning
group would be better equipped to write on this).

Preliminary activities started for the starting of the Management Institute


at BHEL campus. VK and Sri Srinivasan the then District Collector at
Tiruchy (an MBA) and Dr.P.S.Mani Sundaram with VRD had discussed
this. 'Japanese style of Management' would be imparted to the students.
Of this Institute, PSM as VC of Bharatidasan University took the initiative to
form a Society. He had planned to start several "School of Excellence"
under the aegis of the University. Management, Linguistics, Energy Schools
of Excellence were some of these. He had planned for six. I could recall only
three which were actually started and are functioning now. Dr.Ganesh a
Prof.from IIM(A) was appointed as the Director.In anticipation,
advertisement was released for admission of students. But there was a
difference between Dr.Ganesh and PSM and the former left the place. He
had in fact moved his personal effects to Township and had gone round the
country recruiting staff for the School. When the applications were received
(ED'Office/BHEL was given as the Office of the Institute !), I was asked by
Dr.PSM to sort them out. A communication was sent to all the applicants
that they can join the Institute the next year or get back the fees paid !
Mr.Arya (Manager / Personnel) was asked to coordinate. It is another story
that we three (Arya, Richard Regis and myself) were sent on deputation to
the Institute in 1984. Hostels (Training Centre Hostel for men and
Working Women's Hostel for lady students were allotted. MD Auditorium
(first floor) were furnished with Table/Chair and ACs by BHEL for the
Institute. Though 15 acres of land near MHD was allotted by the Board of
BHEL, it did not start constructions as by that time the force behind
the BIM , Dr.PSM left the University. Sri C.Subramaniam was the first
Chairman of the Board of Governors. Several boys/girls of BHEL Employees

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joined the Institute. A quota was given to BHEL. Several Engineers /
executives from BHEL took classes for the MBA students. The collaborations
with BHEL and its location in the BHEL campus was advertised as the strong
point of the Institute. The collaboration continues to this day. BHEL
central library was made available to the students and for one year the
dispatch section of BHEL handled the outgoing letters.

BHEL ED/CMD were on the Board of BIM. During my stay there I wanted the
students to participate as observers when the election were held to Works
Committee /PF / Canteen Committees, etc. to have a firsthand experience. I
wanted this participation in various areas of specialization such as Finance,
Production, etc. But this was not to be .Some Projects were undertaken for
study by the students. Of course I stayed for a year or so with the Institute.
Then I joined the BHEL cutting down my deputation period from two years to
one year. Arya continued, Mr.Richard returned at the end of the second
year.

At this stage I want to mention that BHEL has supplied a vast number of
engineers/executives to private / public sector industries all over the
world.Many of Ex-BHEL men are holding very responsible / top position in
various industries. It is not just related to power house equipment alone.
At times the migration was heavy and at times the migration was
restricted only one or two areas. What was loss to BHEL was a gain to
Indian Industry at large. BHEL provided a large training ground. It is a
vast repository of talents, skills, abilities. It encouraged innovation and
experimentation. It was receptive to new ideas- irrespective of the source.

The top executives had an open mind - an open door policy also. Of course
it had to function within the large parameters set by the Govt. and within
that boundary it had freedom. BHEL, Tiruchy utilized this freedom to a very
great extent. I failed to mention at the beginning the condition of
Tiruverumbur in 40s & 50s. It was notorious for two things :

1) Monkeys. I had travelled as a boy to Tiruchy from Tanjore by train. As


the train approached the Tiruverumbur Station, we were asked to close the
window shutters because the place was infested with monkeys !

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2) The highway was known for highway robberies and there was no
movement after sun set.The place was just a wilderness where tall grasses
grew which were cut and sold as broomsticks by the locals.

A gradual and great transformation took place and we were part of


it;happened before our eyes ; we were witness to it and we contributed to it
in a small measure - to our little mite.Uniforms were supplied to employees
- perhaps based on Japanese practice. From Chairman downwards all
used the same uniforms to bring in a sense of belonging - more than
identity.During the expansion of the Boiler Plant, Valves was not given due
attention and with new collaboration with Dressers, Valves modernization
began. The entry of BHEL in the oil exploration sector for supply of
wellheads and Christmas tree valves to ONGC, is a turning point. Setting
up of Plant at Goindwal was a political decision. (as also Jhansi and two
plants in UP).Mr.MKS was promoted as Director and went to CO, Delhi.
Mr.E.S.Chandrasekar took over as ED. He was GM in BAP, Ranipet.
Earlier, he was in commercial and expansion projects.While he was in BAP
he introduced punching four times a day. There was some resentment and
this was withdrawn.ESC introduced punching to Foremen and Officers at
Tiruchy.This was not appreciated by the Officers. The Officers' Association
filed a case also. But it was stayed.At this stage I moved to BIM and later
to Vigilance.

BHEL,Tiruchy was free from the virus of corruption. There were some
small malpractices in the matter of LTC, TA Claim, etc. There were only
one or two major vigilance cases during the period of my stay in vigilance.
It is a management function and PSU employees as public servants are
covered by the Prevention of Corruption Act. We had established preventive
checks and conducted training programmers for executives and
supervisors.Appointment of Civil officers from Police cadres at Corporate
level posed some problems as they were trained to smell rat where there
was none. Previously all cases relating to E3 and above were to be referred
to CVC for first and second stage and advice. But later this was modified to
cover only very senior level officers - reference to CVC was limited to only
Board level appointments. It is a multi-disciplinary function and executives
from Finance / Purchase / Personnel and other departments were sent to
Vigilance for a few years.

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Later I moved to Administration and then to Personnel and I retired in 1995.
While with BIM, I had derived some practical experience relating to
Management education, while at Vigilance I had established close contacts
with CBI, Madras. I was looking after 'Schools' in Administration and in
Personnel was dealing with the retiring employees. I was able to revive the
training programme for the retiring personnel was able to interact closely
with workers approaching retirement.They were given lectures on
investment,physical and mental health etc.M/S
.K.Ramakrishnan,A.Srinivasulu, A.Subramani, Krishna and V.K.Gopinath
held positions of ED in Tiruchy.

During Shri K.R's time the maximum production of 1,65,000 MT was


achieved in one year. He had a very good control over the management.
One thing I could remember was the removal of screens erected by workers
between the bays where they slept and sometimes played cards. These
were removed overnight. These had existed for a very long time and
no one dared to remove them expecting repercussion. But nothing
happened. The Chief Executives have to take some unpalatable
decision in the larger interest of the CO and generally such decisions
are appreciated by the general body of workers.

When one of the workers died in an accident in Bldg-1, employees gathered


and tried to prevent the removal of the body. K.R moved in and
addressed the workers and explained the situations / rules regarding
compensation / general safety, etc.

During the period when Sri Srinivasulu was the ED, there was a serious
situation due to lack of boiler orders.He took efforts to diversify and get
orders for Heat Exchangers. The effects were successful and BHEL, Tiruchy
was able to tide over the situation.

The strength of Tiruchy unit lift was a very responsible work force and a
series of able and dedicated leaders. Each one was different from the
others. They varied in their attitudes and approaches. Each one of them
gave different emphasis and had different priorities All were practical and
level headed and exhibited a strength of character unmatched
elsewhere. They earned the unstinted support and loyalty of a group
of executives. They were respected.It is true some senior executives

A Story in our own words Page 138


transferred from other units found it difficult to merge totally with the
Tiruchy culture and had to return. But this was not due to the denial of
cooperation by the executives and employees.

What is Tiruchy culture? Is it different from BHEL culture? Is it possible to


pin point a few aspects of a culture which is exclusive to Tiruchy. Or is
this culture common to all successful organizations all over the world?
No organization however successful and well managed can claim 100%
satisfactions from all the 100% of workers & executives. Individual
grievance shall haunt every organization and there is no known way of
satisfying all the employees of all their needs. But overall if organizations
could provide opportunities to express and grow, participate and develop -
the individuals will be willing to cooperate and contribute.

40 years in the life of an organizations is not much. But 40 glorious


years of uninterrupted growth, stability, profitability is unmatched. The
seeds were sown in 60s and the sweat and toil of thousands of workers
have been harnessed by leaders with wisdom and foresight and directed
towards a goal.I was not very closely involved in the later years of my
service and I was a distant spectator and a mute witness.I did not know
much about the leaders and the problems they faced.

I had not mentioned about the establishment of C.V.Raman Science


Centre - originally conceived as a center for growth of knowledge among
the student community of Township - to prepare them for competitive
examination like IIT, IPS, etc. Later it became a computer center imparting
computer education.

I may also mention one other aspect - a deviation from the earlier
practice. The township sectors were not given any names. It was a
deliberate decision. But after Kamaraj Nagar, came Ambedkar Nagar and
Nehru Nagar. There was a problem when Ambedkar Nagar was opened by
a politician and the MP abused the ED on the dais ! Management is decision
making and decisions are made in a set of circumstances and circumstances
differ what was right yesterday need not be right today. There is need for
updating the narrative. It is a continuous affair. The first requirement is to
safeguard the records.

A Story in our own words Page 139


We are not qualified to write the history as it requires a certain amount of
scholarship.But nothing wrong about assimilating facts. Interpretations
may differ but facts do not lie.I do not want to continue beyond this. The
history of the last decade is only recent and there are many discerning
and competent people who have firsthand knowledge. Everyone should
contribute to this task.

I dedicate this effort to BHEL.

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Section -4
A management perspective-
G R Krishnamoorthy

A Story in our own words Page 141


G R Krishnamoorthy

1. PREFACE

In this Write Up containing 100 Pages, the Boiler Plant's Activities covering
the different facets of Management in the a) Project, b) Start up and c) Initial
Stabilization Stages only are addressed.

These include the initial impressions of the Author as to how the 'Aam Aadmi'
of Tamil Nadu in general, and of the Trichy Town in particular perceived the
Boiler Plant, an Overview of Public Sector Enterprises in our country, How and
from where the Top Management of PSEs were sourced, the Achievements
during the Project Management Phase, various Infrastructure facilities set up
as part of Project Management of a Big plant that was being put up,
immediately following the war with the neighbour, the different steps taken in
the realm of Personnel Management, the thrust imparted to the Marketing
Management, How the Operations Management, covering the Purchasing
function, Import Substitution measures were taken up, the Indigenous
development activities mounted including the manufacture of Non Standard
Equipment, and the Various facets of Production Management, including
Planning, Production Planning and Control, Industrial Engineering, Safety
Engineering, the setting up Central Laboratory, Ancillary Industry & Developed
plots, Standardization & Documentation, Library and How all the Production
Equipment trials were taken, followed by initial Operations at the Boiler Plant
including the Manufacture of various Boiler Parts ware started, essentially, by
the First Batch of GAs who were posted to the different Manufacturing Bays of
Building 1 , 5 & 6.

The Write Up also outlines 6 Anecdotes, besides 2 brief reports on 1) Shining


Examples of Singular Traits of RSK, the Chief Architect and founding father of
Boiler Plant, 2) The strange and unusual happenings in the Boiler Plant
Township.

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The History of Achievements of BHEL Trichy have been attempted by the
Author only by recalling from his Memory, the happenings, events,
developments and Highlights that essentially took place during the period
1964 to 1967.

The Top Management during this crucial period comprised R.S. Krishnan, PVK
Achan & Belliappa. Needless to mention that RSK's sudden and untimely
demise has been narrated.

The Poem written by the Author in 1965, upon the successful Commissioning
of Boiler Plant in time & within the Budget Estimate, is also attached.
However, references to certain related Developments that did take place later
in a seamless fashion have been included.

The commendable contributions made by a small band of Officers who have


unfortunately passed away, have been specifically recalled.

2. PROJECT SITE, PROJECT TOP OFFICIALS & PERCEPTIONS OF AAM


ADMI ON THE PROJECT & ITS LOCATION
As a vast track of barren and level Government land was available on the
western side of the Trichy to Tanjore Highway, the then Tamil Nadu
Government, allotted nearly 3000 Acres for locating the High-Pressure Boiler
Plant between Thiruverumbur and Thuvakkudi villages.

Mr. P.V.K. Achan, a Civil Engineer with Engineering & Construction expertise
from the Indian Railways was deputed to be the Project Officer of the Trichy
Plant. Following this, Mr. R.S KRISHNAN was appointed as the Project
Administrator. R.S Krishnan who was also from the Jamalpur Stream of
Railway Officers of the Indian Railways had a long tenure in the Indian
Railways. Further, during the 2nd World War, RSK also had a stint in the
Indian Army (War Service). Prior to his assuming the Office of Project
Administrator of HPBP, RSK was serving as the Chief Mechanical Engineer
(CME) in the Durgapur Integrated Steel Plant.

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Mr. Deenadayalu who was then working in the Tamil Nadu Industries
Department at Trichy, was identified and selected by RSK, as a young
Executive, to work closely with him. Apart from his own merit, Deenadayalu
also knew the Czechoslovak language.

Small wonder, based on his track record and Strengths which inter-alia
included smart working for very long hours, Deenadayalu ingratiated himself
with RSK!! He is easily, the only Executive of BHEL Trichy who had the
opportunity to work with RSK for long years and up to the sudden passing
away of RSK.

2.1 PROJECT LEVELLING CASE/ THIRUVERUMBUR CHEATING CASE


The Project Office of HPBP was, to start with, located at KALLUKUZHI near
Trichy.

Railway Junction. Later, the Project Office was shifted to the Project Site. One
of the First Tasks to be done was Marking and Levelling of the Project site for
locating the Manufacturing Plants. The Levelling Job of HPBP was Outsourced
to the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department (TN PWD) The estimated Project
cost for this important initial Activity was Rs. 7.00 Lakhs. The Work was
completed by the TN PWD in time. However, the Bill presented to BHEL was a
whooping Rs. 24.00 Lakhs! BHEL after providing for due Escalation in Cost
was open to pay a sum of Rs. 14.00 Lakhs only. This dispute, after enquiry,
ultimately culminated in a case being filed called the 'Thiruverumbur
Cheating Case' against the Senior Officials of TN PWD who were responsible
and accountable for the highly-inflated Bills presented to the Project
Authorities. And as it could be expected, this piece of NEWS was flashed in all
the Newspapers in general, and the Tamil Language Newspapers in
particular.

2.2 THE AUTHOR’S PREDICAMENT- INABILITY TO GIFT BOILERS T0


ACQUAINTANCES

After my joining BHEL Trichy, I had to meet my Close Relatives and Friends.
All of them and particularly the womenfolk were uniformly unhappy that
despite my joining the Organisation as an Officer Trainee, I could not buy
and supply the Boilers for their Home Use! I, all the more, incurred their

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displeasure, as they were even open to pay the cost of Boiler produced,
instead of my gifting the same to them!! Somehow or the other, later the
Expression HEAVY BOILER caught the imagination of Aam Admi of Trichy.
The Town Buses also started displaying the Placard 'Heavy Boiler’!! Thus,
slowly the demand for Boiler for Domestic use soon (reluctantly)
disappeared!

2.3 IMPACT OF THE MUCH PUBLICISED CHEATING CASE

Immediately, after the Newspapers flashed, everyone was curious to know


the happenings at the Boiler Plant from the author. Many of them felt as to
how the author joined an organisation which has earned such an image. It
was a tall task for the author to explain that his Plant was the victim which,
in fact, blew the Whistle rather loudly!! Incidentally, the author was also
informed that 2 villages near Trichy, namely, Navalpattu & Ramjee Nagar
were notorious for thieves’ par excellence of Tamil Nadu.

The author also learnt that in the 1920's a Train was stopped at
Thiruverumbur Railway Station and the belongings of passengers looted! And
a Top ICS Officer of TN cadre conducted an Enquiry on the looting incident!

2.4 THIRUVERUMBUR MASSAGE OIL

This oil was quite popular among the elderly, suffering from Arthritis. This
was being prepared and sold by a Muslim family residing at the
Thiruverumbur Village for generations. And, the author could meet the
regular indent from one of my relatives. The Bone setters of Thiruverumbur
were also locally popular.

2.5 THIRUVERUMBUR SIVA TEMPLE

The Author, long after leaving the Boiler Plant, came to know of a fact
regarding this SIVA Temple, situated on the Rock. This temple had a few
centuries ago, been converted as a Garrison and the British troops had

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stayed inside this Temple for months, when they fought the French Army at
Trichy.

Incidentally, this is one of the 2 Temples in which the person praying will
make a name in the field of Computers!

3. OVERVIEW OF PUBLIC SECTOR ENTERPRISES (PSEs)

3.1 PREAMBLE

The Public-Sector Enterprises (PSEs) were first set up by Government of


India, immediately after Independence; these were essentially medium sized
units only. Examples are Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd, Pimpri & Indian
Telephone Industries Bangalore. The 1950's saw the establishment of Big
PSEs like the then Hindustan Steels with Integrated Steel Plants in 3
different locations, Namely, Bhilai, Durgapur & Rourkela; Neyveli Lignite
Corporation (NLC); Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT), Bangalore; Heavy
Engineering Corporation (HEC) Ranchi & The Mining & Allied Machinery
Corporation Ltd (MAMC) Durgapur; the then Heavy Electricals India Ltd,
Bhopal.

Following the Bhopal Unit, Manufacturing units were also set up at Trichy,
Hyderabad and later at Haridwar. These organisations were established to
achieve "Commanding Heights of the Economy". These manufacturing plants
were, in fact, set up in Technical Collaboration and financial assistance from
the following band of Countries namely, U.K; The then USSR; the then
Czechoslovakia; & the then West Germany.

Later in the year 1974, the Heavy Electricals Ltd, Bhopal was merged with
the BHEL that had been set up in 1964 with 3 Manufacturing units, at Trichy,
Hyderabad & Haridwar.

3.2 BACKDROP OF AVAILABILITY OF TOP LEVEL MANAGERIAL &


TECHNICAL PERSONNEL

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At the Time of Independence, our country did have 2 established Private
Sector Steel Plants; a large Surface Transportation equipment manufacturing
unit was set up in the Private sector, in the year 1947. There was practically
no manufacturing unit under Government’s umbrella at that time! Thus, the
Technical and the related Managerial experience & expertise in the
Government was essentially confined to Maintenance and Modification of
Railway Stock, the Heavy Defence Equipment, the Telephone Equipment and
the Electricity Boards only.

Of course, our country did then have the members of the Steel Frame,
namely, the ICS Officers who were, indeed very brilliant and fearlessly
honest; but their strengths were mainly in written communication, Public
Administration, Law & Order, Revenue collection and spending on People
Oriented Schemes.

In fact, a number of ICS officers were posted as the Heads of some of the
large PSEs newly established in the 1950's. As examples, one may recall the
Bhilai Steel Plant & the Neyveli Lignite Corporation. In the case of Heavy
Electricals Ltd, Bhopal, again the Top Officers were picked up from the
Railways only. Similarly, for Managing the Top Technical Positions in Steel
Plants, select officers were posted from the Indian Railways only.

3.3 MANNING OF TOP TECHNICAL POSITIONS IN PSEs

3.3.1 JAMALPUR STREAM OF RAILWAY OFFICERS

Almost all these Very Senior Railway officers posted in top slots in PSEs were
from the Jamalpur Stream; these Special Class Railway Apprentices (SCRA)
were being selected on all INDIA basis and given intensive Training both in
Theory and Practice for 5 years, and they were directly recruited as
Probationary Officers in the Railways.

The Jamalpur Tribe of Offices had the following unique Strengths namely,
Excellent Leadership Qualities, impartiality and fairness of the highest order,
Meticulous Man Management and Man Assessment, Set and achieve very

A Story in our own words Page 147


ambitious Targets both Physical and Time Span, Eye for Details, Exemplary
Review & Follow up Skills, Ever willing to be at the field and unmindful of
making their hands dirty. Punctuality, unparalleled Commitment and National
Pride.

Indeed, the cited Traits are only indicative and not Exhaustive! And BHEL
Trichy and incidentally the First few Batches of Graduate (Engineer)
Apprentices had the Blessings and Privilege of working with 2 such Railway
Officers in the formative stages of BHEL Trichy. They were R.S. Krishnan, the
Main Architect and the First Head of BHEL Trichy and K.G. Belliappa, the very
First Works Manager of BHEL Trichy Complex.

3.4 TOP FINANCE & ACCOUNTS OFFICERS OF PSEs

For Managing the Finance and Accounting function of the PSEs at different
levels, the Top Officers from the Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Indian
Railway Accounts Service, Indian Defence Accounts Services were drafted on
DEPUTATION basis for specified duration only. These Top officers were, no
doubt, men of impeccable integrity, smart, smell a rat very quickly,
suspicious of each and every activity and person. They, invariably, led a
simple and austere life-style. However, almost all of them will openly say that
they will get back to their Parent Cadre, either after completing, or if possible
even prior to the end of their tenure. They were indeed Birds of passage
only.

Their main Task was to oversee and control the Expenditure incurred in PSEs
and were ultimately accountable to Parliament. It is to be noted that in the
initial years of, functioning of even BHEL Trichy, the Head of Finance and
Accounts was reporting directly to the Auditor and Controller General of our
country only!! Following Public Debate and outcry and after a lot of
persuasion marked by hesitation, the Heads of Finance & Accounts of PSEs
were later asked to report to the Board of Directors of the Company. This
change was brought about in BHEL Trichy as well. Much Later only, the
Heads of Finance & Accounts of PSEs started reporting to the Unit Head
itself!!

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3.5. HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT & ITS DEBILITATING EFFECT. FACED
BY CEOs OF PSEs
By their very upbringing, and the fact that they were only on Deputation, the
Top Finance & Accounts Personnel of PSEs were Rule Bound Precedent
Minded Focus on Saving Money onlyTied to Arm Chair Avoid Risks at all
conditions & situations File Pushing Prevarication& Procrastination Not
Humane, even when necessary As opposed to the Characteristics cited in
regard to Finance & Accounts Officers, Heads of PSEs like R.S. Krishnan,
while shining with Impeccable Integrity, were marked by the following
characteristics:

Result Oriented
Judge individual cases on merits only
Maximise Returns / Yields, instead of reducing expenditure
Field Orientation
Take Calculated Risks, when needed
Quick Decisions & Actions
Be Humane, when appropriate

4. ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE REALM OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

4.1 CAUSES FOR POOR PERFORMANCE


All the Public-Sector Projects that were set up throughout our Country
suffered from one or more of the following:
Substantial Cost Escalation.
Inordinate delay in Project completion.
Collaborator's failure in supplying the Plant and Machinery as planned.
Failure in supplying indigenous Plant & Machinery as committed.
Labour Problems.
Nasty Accidents during Construction.
Lack of inspiring and committed Leadership.

The Principal reasons for the maladies in regard to Project Construction were:
Lack of effective and detailed Planning.
Non-Availability of Project Materials in time.
Lack of Project Construction Equipment.
Lack of exposure & expertise in Project Management.

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Shortage of Project funds in general & the Foreign Exchange component in
particular.
Non-availability of competent Human Resources, in sufficient numbers for the
Top Positions.

4.2 BOILER PLANT's LAURELS


It could easily be said that the very first Public Sector Project that was
completed IN TIME and within the BUDGETED COST of Rs. 25 Crores was the
Boiler Plant Trichy.!!

In this unique Achievement, Sri V.R Deenadayalu who, to start with, had the
Designation Special Officer and later as Assistant Superintendent, General
indeed played a crucial role by closely assisting Sri R.S.KRISHNAN.&
P.V.K.ACHAN Several Parcels of Contracts were thoughtfully planned and
awarded to Competent Contractors, duly following the laid down Processes.
Following the China War in the year 1962, our country faced critical
shortages of Foreign Exchange as also, deficits in Funds allocation for Green
field PSE Projects. Compounding these was acute and unprecedented
shortage of indigenously produced Steels, particularly thick Plates, Joists,
Angles and the like.

The allocation of Steel Stock for various Customers was being done by the
then IRON & STEEL CONTROLLER, having his Office at Kolkata. It was a
Herculean Task to get Steel allotment from the Iron & Steel Controller. It was
more difficult to get the Allotted Steel scheduled for Production in the
different Steel Plants of our country. And finally, the manufactured Steel
Products for BHEL Trichy, according to the Rolling Programme of the Steel
Plant, had to be loaded in suitable Railway Wagons namely, BFR and
Transported through long distance to Trichy.

A lion's share of the Steel allotted and Produced for BHEL Trichy were ODCs
Namely, Over Dimensioned Consignments. And this Called for one additional
empty BFR wagon to be put in front and yet another empty BFR wagon, on
the Back of the BFR Wagon on which the Long Steel Stock were loaded, i.e.

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in all 3 wagons for one bunch of long Steel Stock. One can imagine the
insuperable difficulties faced in getting large quantities of steel needed for
BHEL Trichy, especially when other equally important Customers in Public
and Private sectors were on the same challenging Task of vigorously
following up the same matter/ issue.
For carrying out these Tasks for BHEL Trichy, R.S.K had one Mr.
Narayanaswamy to Liaise & Coordinate the Work connected with Steel
Allotment & Steel rolling. Plans, & getting the Steel produced. And for
Railway wagon allotment. Chasing and movement to Trichy, the Team
comprised M/S De Souza, Sankaran & Sulaiman This very cohesive team of
Officers/Officials from the Railways were specifically picked up by R.S.K. The
contribution of these 4 Officers in Timely completion of Construction of the
Boiler Project deserves to be incorporated in Golden Letters.!

The Rail Transport Trio continued their singular contribution to the Boiler
Plant during the first couple of decades of Manufacture of Boiler components
and their timely dispatch to the different Power Station sites of our country.
It could be said without exaggeration that this Team ensured that there was
practically no Demurrage payment to the Indian Railways, even though many
consignments were ODCs and sometimes involving transshipment from Broad
gauge to Metre Gauge Rail lines as well.

Only a few Employees of Boiler Plant perhaps knew the silent but sterling
contribution made by these highly dedicated, motivated and Result oriented
team of officers. Both Sankaran & Sulaiman had travelled the maximum
distance on the Trains and slept on Trains for very long days also.!!Yet
another Area needing focus in the initial Stages of the Project was the
Coordination & Liaisoning with the Chennai Port Trust.

As the bulk of the Cargo, Namely, Plant and Machinery for the Project was
being imported, as a part of the Contract entered into with the Collaborator,
effective coordination with the Chennai Port trust was of paramount
importance. Unless the goods are tracked, unloaded, Stacked, reloaded onto
the Railway Wagons or Trucks for onward movement to Boiler Plant Project
site, not only crucial time would be lost but Wharf age and or Demurrage
Charges would also be incurred.

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In order to meet this uphill task, RSK had positioned one Senior Executive by
name Mr. Janaki RAMAN. The Sterling Role played by Mr. Janakiraman's & his
small team in the timely implementation of the Boiler Plant deserves to be
placed on Record.

4.3 STRENGTHENING / WIDENING OF SOME BRIDGES & ROADS


Very Heavy & Wide width Goods had to be Transported, from Chennai Port
Trust to the Boiler Project Site, Accordingly, Strengthening/'widening of some
Bridges and Roads at strategic locations between Chennai & Trichy assumed
importance. The Boiler Plant had to incur a good expenditure for carrying out
these preparatory works. These had to be done in close Coordination with the
State Departments concerned. to whom this amount had to be credited.
However, there were delays in beefing up the needed infrastructure by the
State Government Departments and they only were empowered to carry out
the modifications to the Bridges and Roads.

As an answer to this, innovative alternative arrangements were made by


Boiler Plant at its own cost to bring in the imported Plant & Machinery. to the
Project site, taking only a short Lead Time. The Project Officer Mr. P.V.K
Achan was looking after this vital area

4.4 SUCCESSFULLY PUT THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE!

The Steel Allotment for the fabrication of Boiler Plant's Columns and Roof
Trusses was delayed by the then Office of Iron & Steel Controller, Kolkata, on
the aftermath of the War which our Country had to engage with China in
1962/63. Our economy was severely affected. The Construction Schedule of
various Shops of the Boiler Plant would have consequently got delayed,
owing to the absence of Factory Columns & Roof Trusses in time.
For instance, one of the Major Shops which had been given the name
Building 1, was having Dimension of nearly 300 Metres X 300 Metres, i.e.
Nearly 90,000 Square Metres, one of the Biggest in our Country. Added to
that was the requirement that the factory heavy duty flooring with a depth of
3 Metres in the various buildings and more so for Building 1 was very critical
and had to be got ready. If the Plant were to wait for the Columns & Trusses

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to be ready, before starting the heavy-duty factory flooring, the Construction
Schedule of the Boiler Plant would have been very adversely impacted.
In order to overcome this challenge, indeed, an Innovative idea was
conceived and also Successfully Completed. The Heavy-Duty flooring work
was started ahead of the Factory Columns and Roof Trusses were ready. It
was the case of Putting the Cart before the Horse! After careful and precise
marking of the locations on the Land on which the Factory Columns would
come up, and the exact locations of various Machine Tools on the Factory
Shop Floors, the Heavy Concrete Laying was taken up in right earnest. This
important activity, as one would appreciate, took several weeks. The
imported Machine Tools supplied by the collaborator from Czechoslovakia had
then arrived and these rather Heavy Machine Tools were also erected in their
previously marked places on the shop floor after completing the erection of
Machine Tools, they were covered with heavy Tarpaulins.Completion of large
area of Heavy Duty flooring with a substantial depth, more or less coincided
with the completion of fabrication of Factory Columns and Roof Trusses.
These Steel Structurals were, thereafter, erected as when they got ready and
the Factory Buildings completed.

4.5 IN-CAMPUS MANUFACTURE OF NON STANDARD EQUIPMENT

The Eastern Block of countries were always keen to supply all the Products
and Components needed to put up the plant.

The Author recalls that the for the state Government's Project, TAMILNADU
STEELS at. Arakkonam which was being set up with Technical and Financial
Assistance from USSR, a substantial chunk of Plant and Machinery had to be
imported from the USSR. The funny aspect, was that a comprehensive
Central Heating System as it existed in the corresponding Russian Plant was
also imported to be installed at Arkonam which as we know tends to record a
very High Temperature, and more so in Summer!

To reduce the Financial Burden, based on appeal, the Czechoslovak


collaborator decided to give Detailed Drawings for getting ready the various
auxiliary Products needed to set up the Boiler Plant.

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These Products were called “Non-Standard Equipments”. These included -
Steel Racks of different configurations, Storage Cupboards for safe keeping of
several items, Instruments, possessions of workmen, Trollies for movement
of Materials, Bins of various sizes to hold different materials, Pillars, Posts,
Stands of different types, Work Benches, Inspection Benches, Pallets, Skids,
Building Shutters and the like.

In order to get these equipments manufactured, temporary production shed


was put up near Training Centre. All these Non-Standard Equipment were
Produced in this facility. This important task was ably discharged by 2
Executives Namely, M/S Ethiraj & Kanagavel.

This very sensible step paved the way for meeting one of the crucial
requirement for establishing the Boiler Plant, preserving foreign exchange
and ensuring timely delivery. These 2 Executives, later moved to
'Operations’.

Mr. Ehiraj, unfortunately breathed his last after a couple of decades later.

4.6. COMMISSIONING OF BOILER PLANT

As yet another Important step towards completion of Boiler Plant infra


structure as also Import Substitution, RSK had placed Orders on the
Jamshedpur based Factory to supply the Diesel Shunters for internal
movement of Railway Wagons within the Plant. This Factory had just taken
up the Production of Shunters in our country with the Austrian collaborator,
Voeith.

The Supply of this important Equipment was getting delayed. It looked as if


the Shunter might not be available, even at the time of Commissioning of
Boiler Plant. Realizing the gravity of the situation, RSK extended a financial
Incentive to this large Organization, subject to the Shunter being supplied
well in time before the Commissioning of Boiler Plant.!

RSK, in his inimitable style, also wrote to this supplier that, if their
Equipment was not received as agreed, he would arrange to put up a 'Board'

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that the order for Shunter which was to have been supplied by the originally
agreed date, was still being awaited from this organisation!!And this Highlight
would be part of the inauguration function!!

Presumably, this supplier had received orders from other Customers also;
some of them who had placed orders on them much earlier were also waiting
for the supply of Shunters.

The Shunter was supplied to Boiler Plant, prior to Commissioning of the Plant
on 1st May 1965. RSK, in a lighter vein wrote to this Organization, stating
that hopefully they had not ditched some other Customer who had placed
order earlier to BHEL!

Stamp of World Class Excellence was evident in whatever was Organized /


Started by RSK. In fact, most of them were introduced for the first time in
our country. Now let us briefly cover each one of them.

4.7 MAIN GUEST HOUSE

The Main Guest House constructed next to the Residence of Project


Administrator was staffed by highly competent employees selected
specifically for the purpose. The excellent arrangements made to receive the
Guests and look after them was appreciated by one and all who had the
occasion to stay in the Guest House.

4.8 SECURITY SERVICES

A top notch, dedicated and Captive Security Services Wing was Organized
again from the very initial stages to Safeguard the Assets of The Boiler Plant,
as also to respond to on site Emergencies.

The Officer selected to Head the Security Establishment was Mr. Ali Sultan
from the Tamil Nadu Police Department. He was ably assisted by Mr.
Gopalan. Again, this Wing recruited highly competent, very dedicated and
committed Supervisors and Security Guards. The Professional Approach
practised and demonstrated by this Force won the Appreciation of one all,

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and more particularly, the Top Security Officers from the Government of
India who visited the Boiler Plant from time to time, for Inspection and
Assessment of the Plant's Security Arrangements.

As matter of fact, after 3 decades or so, when the Central Government


decided to Uniformly introduce the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in
all the units of BHEL, in lieu of the Captive Forces, the Trichy Plant was
spared at that point of time. This again highlighted the Confidence the local
unit Management and the BHEL Corporate Office had on the Boiler Plat's
Security Force and more importantly, the Acceptance of this proposition by
the Government of India.

4.9 FIRE SERVICE

The small and compact Fire Service wing was easily the most effective Fire
set up established in a PSE. The First Head of this Group was Mr.
Viswanathan who had a distinguished career in the TN Fire Service
Department. Upon joining BHEL he, in turn, hand-picked each one of the Fire
Service Supervisors and Fire men of BHEL Trichy. They were further
rigorously Trained in BHEL to hone their skills.

In many instances, the Fire Service personnel rushed to the scene instantly,
on receiving the Fire Call, swung into action and put out the Fire. Also, they
were always ready to render Rescue and Relief Operations as and when
events were Organized and conducted in the Plant as also in the Township. In
fact, so effective was their performance, their Services were frequently
requested by the Neighboring Establishments and the District Administration.

One day, Mr. Belliappa, the WM happened to be In Bay1A, on the Eastern


side of this Long Bay. He himself collected a bunch of Cotton waste and other
waste materials and using a Match Stick, he ignited the Bunch of Cotton and
other Waste. Once the waste Caught Fire, he broke open the Fire Alarm
System that was nearby and pressed the Alarm.

He also noted the Time of his pressing the Alarm. We were waiting for the
Fire Services Personnel to report at the Bay and the specific Work Centre. We
were quite happy to note that the Fire Services immediately reported at the

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spot to put out the Fire. They were of course surprised to note that WM only
had tested their readiness to respond to Emergencies.! Needless to state that
the WM noted the Time of their Arrival at the Spot.

4.10. PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

The Public Relations headed by Bhaskar Rao was started in right earnest in
the year 1964. The House Journal, Boiler Plant & You was started soon
thereafter. The role played by the House Journal which was concise, brief to
the point and covered a wide spectrum of happenings in the Plant and
Township. The Public Relations Department established a unique culture. For
instance, as and when dignitaries used to visit the Plant, Photographic
coverage was done and a complete set of Photographs taken from the
beginning to end of the visit would be positively handed over to the Dignitary
by the Plant. Without any exception, the dignitaries were completely floored
by this unique step which was, of course, regularly practised at that point of
time. The dignitaries, upon return, would definitely show the pictures to the
family members and also retain them as album!

4.11 GREENING OF PLANT PREMISES AND TOWNSHIP

RSK was very particular about caring for the Environment even in early 60's.
Right from the initial Stages, he positioned a Horticulture specialist, Mr.
Menon. Tens of Thousands of Saplings were planted throughout the land
belonging to BHEL Trichy by Mr. Menon and his Team.As all of us are aware
that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, by the beginning of the current
Century made the securing of ISO:14001 Environment Management System
Certification compulsory for specified Category of Manufacturing units.The
Confederation of Indian Industry, CII also was actively pursuing the subject.
A number of organisations like the Newly set up Integrated Steel Plant and
the Petroleum Refinery, planted Millions of saplings in their Project areas.
BHEL Trichy also, later, gave a further thrust to planting saplings in the areas
under its control.

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4.12 INFILTRATION GALLERY FOR UNINTERRUPTED WATER SUPPLY

Yet another facility that was successfully commissioned and operated in the
very Initial stage was the Infiltration Gallery, set up on the upstream of River
Cauvery a couple of Kilometres before the Kallanai to collect the naturally
filtered Pure Water, Pumping Stations at the site, Penstock pipes to deliver
the Output to the Plant and Township, the High-Rise Water tank and the
distribution Arrangements to deliver the Water were erected and got ready.
Certain Problems and Difficulties that were being faced by yet another similar
infiltration Gallery located some distance away for a different Project at
Trichy were duly noted and steps taken accordingly to avert such snags in
the Boiler Plant infiltration gallery!

The task of erecting this Infiltration Gallery as also many other Civil
Construction works were done by Mr. Shanmuga Sundaram, a highly
experienced Civil Engineer.

4.13 SOLAR EVAPORATION PLANT

A Solar Evaporation Plant for Sewage Treatment at the South-Eastern Corner


of the Township Land was conceived and implemented, successfully. This was
the First Time that such a large-Scale Treatment Plant was effectively put
into use. Needless to point out that the Boiler Plant, not only drastically
reduced the Capital Cost on this account but also effected substantial savings
in the Running Expenditure, in terms of Electrical Energy, as also
maintenance avoidance.

Mr. Nair, the experienced Civil Engineer was in charge of this Works at the
field. Incidentally, Mr. Nair was suffering from acute Hearing debility for long
years He was sent to undergo the surgery in Chennai. The Ear Specialist of
all India repute by name Subramanian was the Surgeon. So, pleased was
RSK about the rather successful Miracle surgery, performed on Mr. Nair that
he wrote a personal letter, complimenting and thanking the legendary
Doctor. Yet another instance of genuine Care of employees by RSK!!

4.14 THE MAIN HOSPITAL

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A differently designed Hospital Complex with elegant Architecture was got
ready at the appropriate stage. This complex had Isolation & Maternity
wards, Operation Theatres and X-Ray arrangements also. Earlier, to start
with, a Medical Centre with modest facilities was being run in Temporary
accommodation in the Township.

The Average age of Boiler Plant Employees was no doubt very less. Dr.
Palande, the First chief of Medical wing was the driving Force in setting up
the new Hospital with the needed Equipment and Testing Labs and other
needed Infrastructure already mentioned; the task of Recruiting a Team of
Doctors to serve the Employees and their family members was also entrusted
to him. Later Dr. Palande left the services of Boiler Plant.

Invariably, the Hospital and the Industry Canteens, in any large industrial
complex in which Thousands of Employees work, become the highly Sensitive
Areas, where in the employees' discontent and dissatisfaction originate.
These locations, in turn, become the easy targets for trouble makers to
foment and exploit.

Since every Patient who came to the Hospital lacked in Patience and desired
to be treated very fast, it became a challenge for the Administration, as also
the Doctors to meet their expectations.

The industrial Engineering Department under Ramasubramanian, after a


detailed Collection of Data and field study, introduced a Robust Systems and
Procedures for the Running of the Hospital which also included a System of
Registration and Delivery of Health Care.to eligible personnel

As could be expected, one off and occasional ailments, Seasonal Demands for
specific illnesses, Cases of Acute and chronic diseases, Maternity
Requirements, Medical Checkup for New Entrants, Family Planning needs,
care of aged parents of Employees, the Number of patients waiting to be
seen by Doctors in general, the personal preference of Patients to be
diagnosed by specific Doctors of their choice only, had to be reckoned and
addressed. This was a formidable task.

In brief, a Medical History Booklet in the size of Ration Card was introduced,
for every Employee and his/her dependent relatives. The First Page of the
same Highlighted the Blood Group of the Employee/ Relative and whether
allergic to the antibiotic Penicillin or not.

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Racks with vertical slots that Boldly indicated the Employees' (the then) 4
Digit Numbers were kept at a convenient height for the use of Hospital
Employee manning the Registration Counter.

Quick access and pick up of the particular employee's Medical Book was thus
made very easy. The patient Employee could join the Queue waiting to see
the Doctor of patient's choice. The Medical Book would be kept on the
Doctor's Table by the Attendant. When the Patient was called in and
Diagnosed, the Doctor was requested to Write his Prescription on a specially
Designed Chit having the Carbon on the back side of the Chit. The Doctor
would write the required Medicines on the Chit, keeping the Chit on the
Empty portion of the Medical Book. Thus, the Medicines prescribed would get
transferred to the Medical Book of Employee and serve as Record.

The patient, thereafter, would go to the Medicines Dispensing counter and


present the Chit mentioning the Medicines, retaining the Medical Book.

After collecting the Medicines, the patient Employee was expected to deposit
it in the Hospital Reception counter. Of course, the Employee, on specific
occasions was allowed to keep his Medical Book; he was expected to keep it
with care, and bring it along with him, when he turns up to the Hospital next
time.

The above arrangement greatly eliminated the rush and confusion at the
Registration counter, Reduced the Doctor’s writing the Medicines 2 times,
namely, on the Chit and the Medical Book, streamlined the Delivery of
Medicines at the Dispensing counter and created a Medical Record for each
eligible Patient. As and when the Employee visited the Hospital for treatment
next time, the Record facilitated the examining Doctor to know the Medical
History of the Patient.

The Doctors working in other Towns & cities were pleasantly surprised when
they had occasion to go through the Medical Book of Boiler Plant Employees,
highlighting the Case History, covering several years

4.15 COMMUNITY CENTRE, GAMES/ SPORTS FACILITIES & CLUB


FOR EXPATS/ OFFICERS

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An impressive Community Centre Building was got ready in the very initial
stages. This Big sized Hall could accommodate 700 Personnel. Its Stage was
designed such that on its rear side, the same stage served as the one needed
for the Open-Air Theatre. The indoor Hall doubled as the Shuttle Badminton
court as well.

In fact, the Author now vividly recollects the Huge gathering of employees
and other interested Parties when a meet was organised in the Open-air
theatre in one evening, to pay tribute to the first Architect of Boiler Plant, Mr.
RSK, upon his untimely demise.

RSK was a connoisseur of Music both Indian and Western. We are aware that
he used to like the voice of the legendary Elvis Presley. Incidentally, this
Community Centre saw two memorable performances. The first one was a
Dance Programme by Ms. Hema Malini from Chennai who later on became a
Hindi Actress of National Repute.

The other one was a Carnatic Music Concert by M.S. Subba Lakshmi who has
the unique distinction of a Lady Artist, and a non-Political individual whose
Statue has been installed in a different state of our country, than her own,
and also a recipient of Bharat Ratna.

RSK was a good Tennis player and enthusiast. In fact, Mrs RSK who was the
daughter of the famous High Court Judge of Madras presidency by name
Sadasivam was also a good Tennis Player.! Favorably inclined as RSK was for
Games, he even set up a Squash Court & Billiards, besides Table Tennis from
the very inception. The Foot Ball/ Hockey Ground and Cricket Pitches with
ground were got ready very early.

One has to note that RSK organized the very prestigious Chess Tournament
in the Indoor Hall of Community Centre with special arrangements made for
display of the Scores of several Chess Teams that played the matches
simultaneously. There was extensive coverage of this event in all the
newspapers of our country. And this event won the appreciation of one and
all.

The Club with the Swimming Pool and facilities for all Indoor Games was put
up mainly for the use of Expats from Czechoslovakia. Later this campus
started serving as the Officers’ Club; the use of Swimming Pool was made
available to all Supervisors also.

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4.16 TOWNSHIP

The Township for Boiler Plant Employees came up in Phases to house its own
employees. To start with, the Housing Complex was laid on the Eastern Side
of the Trichy Tanjore Road. Later, a Housing colony also came up on the
Southern side of the Plant. It is again to be borne in mind that, apart from
delay in sanctioning funds towards Housing, a lot of noise was being made
w.r.t PSUs splurging scarce financial resources in constructing huge
Townships. It was also true that in some PSEs, the cost of Township was
equivalent to one Third of the Cost of the entire Project!

It was also pointed out that such a high proportion of Cost of Housing was
being incurred, even when the Projects were not getting completed and
commissioned in time and within the original Budgeted Cost.

Following this, the Bureau of Public Enterprises perhaps swung to the other
side of the Spectrum, imposing even unreasonable restrictions relating the
number of Houses and their Sizes, in terms of Area, Eligibility and the like.

4.17 UNMANNED NEWSPAPER SHOP!

In the years,1964 and the late 60s, there was a Newspaper selling Shop in
the Main Shopping Centre of the Boiler Plant Township. This was, in fact,
located on the Walking Platform which was Semicircular in shape.

An interesting feature of this Shop was that it was not manned by any one!
The buyer of the Newspaper had to deposit the correct amount in the Cash
Box kept for the purpose.! Those, who, did not have the correct change used
to deposit a Currency Note and take back the correct balance.!! This System
and the Shop were working very successfully.

So much so, a brief write-up on this unique Unmanned Shop was published in
one of the Popular Magazines in Tamil.

5. SHINING EXAMPLES OF RSK's SINGULAR TRAITS

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That RSK was exemplary in following a humane approach to employees 5
Decades ago, and at a time, when the Finance Function, was not inclined to
support such measures, was all the more Remarkable. The following factual
cases with reference to our own batch mates will highlight the same. Indeed,
he had the virtues of being Balanced, having a sense of Proportion and
Magnanimity.

5.1One of our Batch Mates by name Devanathan was an Electrical


Engineer from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

While he was very studious and academically oriented, he felt like a fish out
of Water, when he was asked to stand and do Filing, using Steel Files for 8
Hours! in the Training Centre. He came to know that he had to undergo this
ordeal for at least a few more Months, in the various Sections of the Training
Centre.Unable to continue this rather physically difficult and mentally
different Tasks, he decided to Quit the services of Boiler Plant. Accordingly,
he submitted his Resignation to the Project Administrator.In terms of the
Written Bond concluded by all of us with BHEL, we had to shell out a fat Sum
of Rs. 10000/ (Rupees Ten Thousand Only), even if we left the services one
day after joining the Services of BHEL. If the Author is right, he hardly drew
the Stipend for the period 19th October to 31st October 1964.

He was of course, open to return the Stipend, if any received by him.


Obviously, he was, in no position to cough up the Bond Amount of Rs.10000.
It is to be noted that the Sum of Rs. 10000 was nearly equivalent to the price
of 100 Gold sovereigns, as the price of 8gms of Gold then, was hovering
around Rs. 100 only.RSK noted that this young man had made up his
decision quickly, essentially because he was unable to cope with the nature
of Activities assigned to him. And RSK did allow him to leave BHEL, without
insisting upon his returning the Bond Amount, according to the Agreement!!

5.2P.L Ramanathan, yet another First Batch of Graduate Apprentices


was working in Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC),

when he was selected to join BHEL Trichy. All the selected Candidates were
asked to join the Plant on the 19th October 1964. P.L Ramanathan could not
join on the specified date, as he had to give 3 Months’ notice to NLC, to get

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himself relieved from NLC. He, accordingly, wrote to BHEL asking for 3
Months’ Time to join BHEL. The ever focused RSK was very keen that the
selected candidate, PLR should join BHEL Trichy, forthwith.! Accordingly, he
wrote to the CMD of NLC that BHEL Trichy would remit to NLC, the sum
amounting to PLR's Salary in NLC for 3 months and that PLR might please be
relieved immediately, accordingly.RSK had envisaged that the Advance
amount paid to NLC, on behalf of PLR, would be recovered from PLR's
Stipend for 3 months.!With the Author's long experience in close to 1000
organisations in Public and Private Sector in Dozen countries including ours,
in the past 35 years, without any hesitation, the Author could state that NO
CEO, on his own volition and conviction, would now do what was done by
RSK nearly 5 and a Half decades ago.!Of course, the author has to agree that
the present-day CEO of PSEs in our country, now will do the same, if a
Chaprasi from the Politician's Office/ Home commands him to do so; not
otherwise.!!

5.3Yet another First Batch of Graduate Apprentice,

Mr. Chinnadurai who later on put on the Army Rank of Captain under the
Short Service Regular Commission, SSRC in the corps EME, was a Weight
Lifting Champion in the university. After joining the Boiler Plant, as
scheduled, he underwent a Medical Checkup, as was done to all his batch
mates.

It was Diagnosed that he was suffering from Hydrocele and that he should
undergo a minor Operation accordingly.Whether Chinnadurai might be asked
to leave the Services of BHEL Trichy or not was hanging in balance!! But
RSK, in his own inimitable Style, ruled that the Operation on him had to be
done free of cost by BHEL Hospital and the period of his Absence, owing to
Medical Reasons, should be treated as a period with pay!! The readers have
to note the most important point that all these 3 cases happened in a span of
3 Weeks’ time or so and were decided in favour of Trainees; needless to
reiterate that these 3 Apprentices were neither known to RSK earlier or
Related or anyone else Represented to RSK or for that matter spoke to Him,
exhorting him to do what he did as the most Compassionate and Benevolent
CEO!!

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5.4The Author is pleased to Record with Gratitude and elation yet
another instance.

Since the Author was fond of attempting Poems/ Sonnets in English as well
as Tamil, the Author wrote a small Poem in English on the Outstanding
Achievement of BHEL Trichy namely, the Timely Completion of a Big PSE
Project in TIME and within the BUDGETED COST and sent this Poem to RSK.
The Author did not stop with that. The Author had the Audacity to write one
longer poem on BHEL Township based on his Perception, mainly adversely
commenting on the Narrow Roads and not so elegantly built Houses in terms
of overall looks as well as Layout.!! Again, only RSK would have done what
he did. My Poem on the Project was duly Published in the House Journal
'Boiler Plant & You'. Incidentally, a copy of the same was collected by the
Author when we the First Batch of Graduate Apprentices met together at the
Boiler Plant after 50 long years The Copy of this Poem is attached.

As regards the Author's English Poem on the Township, no one from the
Upper Management either spoke to the Author over Telephone or pulled him
up for the act of Indiscretion.!! It was rightly ignored and the act of writing
so, completely forgotten Needless to state this Poem, also did not come in
the way Quick Progress of the Author in BHEL Trichy.!! By the by, only a few
Rhyming words of the Poem written to a friend, come to memory. ' -------the
Township's impressive Panorama.

---------------spreading foul Aroma; (The Trichy Distilleries smell used to


pervade the Township off and on) ---- Has many a Lane, which will remind
you of Triplicane!!

5.5However, in the perception of the Author,

this type of Magnanimity & balanced Response was, unfortunately, not


displayed in favour of him, in the year 1982, after18 years of service in the
Organisation! Despite the Author doing things which, according to his
reckoning were the right things to be done, keeping in view the Long-term
interests of the Plant and not to buy peace for the next 2 or 3 years when the
tenure of the post would expire, the Author was put on compulsory wait,
becoming a persona non-grata, compelling him to leave the services of BHEL
for good.!!

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5.6 Despite his Poem on Township, which could be termed High
Handed?

the Author was in the usual course, nominated as one of the 2 Executives
Team, charged with the Responsibility of carrying out an Accident
investigation case involving the 14 Ton Coles Mobile Crane, operated by the
Crane Operator by name (Krishnan)!! The Crane had capsized sideward and
the Boiler Component Handled was also damaged.

This was perhaps the first accident investigation on the Asset Owned by the
Boiler Plant. The other Enquiry Officer besides the Author was Mr. D' Souza, a
mighty Senior and who had served the Indian Railways, having carried out a
number of Accident investigation cases in the Railways.
The Charge Sheeted Crane Driver during the Enquiry, was duly assisted by a
very competent Supervisor of the Transport Department. His English
Language Communication and Presentation skills during the Enquiry were
praiseworthy.

It was a wonderful experience in gathering forensic evidence, in faithfully


Recording the Questions put by us, the Statements of the charge sheeted
employee as also the Witnesses and others connected. The overall
compilation of various Photos, Documents, extracts from the Equipment
Manual, the different versions of all the employees, the related Literature
Survey/ past case studies and finally our conclusion was a totally new
exposure.to the Author.

The investigating team of Officers were aware that their accident


investigation report, especially involving an experienced employee who was
also in the forefront of starting a UNION in Boiler Plant, could be contested
and challenged in a court of Law.

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6 PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

6.1 RECRUITMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES & THEIR DISCIPLINE

As the Leader par excellence, RSK was out to recruit the Best Human
Resources of our country for his Plant. And he introduced path breaking
practices much ahead of his times.

One will be surprised to note that, he positioned a full time Industrial


Psychologist in the year 1965. Appropriate Intelligence Tests were introduced
and administered to all the candidates called for Interview in Boiler Plant.
This was a sine-qua-non for all the Posts; those who did not clear the
Psychometric Tests would not be allowed to appear for Interview at all!!
As example, the case of First Batch Graduate Apprentices (GAs) may be
cited. For Recruiting the GAs, Eye catching Advertisements were prominently
issued in various Newspapers of our country. And out of 8000 initial
applicants received, only 150 were called, to first take the Psychometric
Tests. After the initial elimination, Group Discussion was held and the
Interviews conducted. And, finally, 15 were selected as GAs.Of course, this
wholesome practice was continued thereafter.The Boiler Plant was also
making use of the Services of the National Productivity Council, headed by its
Director, Dr. Yoga.

The only one Organisation which had introduced a thorough selection


process, lasting for specified days, even in the late 50s was the Indian Army
for Recruitment of its Officers (SSB). The Tests included Physical Endurance
Tests, Psychological Tests, Group discussion & Interview. Even the
Recruitment to the prestigious All India Services involved only Written Tests
and Interview. The well-known large PSEs in the 60's like BEL, HMT, HEC,
HAL had only Interview. No Private Sector unit in our country, including the
long and well established TISCO held the Psychometric Tests and Group
discussion for recruitment of Executives.The IOC which started Recruitment
of its Officers in the year 1964 had only a Test followed by Interview.

What the Author has outlined here is authentic only, as the Author himself
had appeared and got selected from the organisations Namely, IOC, TISCO,
PHILIPS, BEL & HEC.

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It would be appreciated that a nascent organisation which was getting ready
to complete the Project and get inaugurated formally, introduced such an
epoch-making step from the year 1964.The emphasis given for Training to
selected Employees has been dealt with already.

A large cross section of the Technical Personnel with suitable qualification and
experience were mainly selected from Indian Railway Workshops and
Ambarnath Ordnance Factory for meeting the Supervisory positions of Boiler
Plant.

These personnel were also sent to undergo Training in the identified


disciplines/ functions of the Collaborator's plant in Czechoslovakia. In
addition, as already mentioned, Graduate Engineers, mostly with a few years’
experience, were also deputed to the Collaborator's Plant. It is to be pointed
out that in the years 1965/66, a large compliment of both Graduate
Engineers & Diploma holders with specific years of experience were also
selected from Bangalore based Manufacturing units, and from the others for
manning the Quality Control /Quality Assurance and Industrial Engineering
functions.

6.2. A TEAM OF SENIOR EXECUTIVES FROM RSK's ERSTWHILE


ORGANISATION POSITIONED

It was earlier mentioned that before RSK took over as the Project
Administrator of Boiler Plant at Trichy, he was the Chief Mechanical Engineer
of the Integrated Durgapur Steel Plant.
In order to ensure Harmony and Espirit de core amongst the large Work
office which would be deployed in the Boiler Plant, RSK personally selected a
Team of 5 Officers who had earlier worked with him and whose strengths he
was personally, aware of. Mr. RamaSubramanian was the first to join and he
began helping RSK in the Planning Stages of the Big Project. The others who
were selected by RSK from Durgapur were - Mr. Jaya Chandran, Mr. Hakim,
Mr. Rajakumar & Mr. Naidu.

Mr. Jayachandran joined the Purchase function; Mr. Naidu, the Erection of
Machine Tools in the various Workshops with the ultimate idea that he would

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organise the Maintenance Function; Mr. Rajkumar was assigned the Task of
looking after the Transport Department which included, the Heavy Earth
moving Equipment, Mobile Cranes, Trucks, Vans and of course the Cars.

Mr. Hakim was put in charge of ordering, erecting & commissioning the 62
Electric Overhead Travelling (EOT) Cranes of the Boiler Plant and later their
Operation & Maintenance as a separate Department.These 4 Senior Officers,
who joined Boiler Plant after nearly 2 years of Mr. Ramasubramanian started
working together as a very closely knit Team. They would perhaps meet
every day and exchange notes. Of course they were in touch with each other
through the Telephone.

It is to be noted that Mr. M.K Sridhar who joined a little later, as the
Assistant Superintendent, Training, came on his own to join the Boiler Plant.
Similarly, Mr. T.P Raja who was also working in the Durgapur Steel Plant
earlier, joined the Boiler Plant as Assistant Superintendent Gas Services. He
also came on his own from Durgapur to join the Boiler Plant. Much later, Mr.
K. Ramakrishnan, again from Durgapur Steel Plant joined as the Head of the
Integrated Materials Mage meant function of Boiler Plant in the mid 70's It is
to be noted that this Team brought to Boiler Plant from Durgapur by RSK
working cohesively as a Group, made a commendable contribution to the
startup and initial stabilisation of the Boiler Plant on right lines, under the
Stewardship of RSK. This team also knew very well, the mind, style of
working and expectations of RSK.

As could be expected in any organisation, the bringing as well as the working


together of the Durgapur Team was not fully appreciated, if not relished, by
the other Senior Executives who were working in the various Departments of
the Boiler Plant; while some were suspicious, some others were jealous!!

6.3. THE DYNAMIC WORKS MANAGER WHO SET AN EXAMPLE &


ENFORCED DISCIPLINE

To Head the Factory Operations, RSK specially, and Specifically selected Mr.
BELLIAPPA from the Railway Cadre as the Works Manager. Mr. Belliappa,
prior to joining the Boiler Plant, was working in the Senior Position in the
Chittaranjan Locomotive Works.

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It is to be pointed out that besides recruiting the Best Human Resources and
focusing on Training, RSK, ably supported by Mr. Belliappa, the first Works
Manager, introduced a very high Standard of Discipline and Code of conduct
from the very initial stages. This was the most difficult part to be introduced
and sustained in any large manufacturing organisation, particularly in the
Public Sector. It is relevant to point out, that both RSK & Belliappa practised
what they preached. In fact, they set a shining example and served as a Role
models for others to emulate. A few examples might be recalled in this
connection.

6.4. AN OFFICIAL INDULGING IN FRAUDULENT PRACTICES SACKED

There was an Official in the grade of Foreman, with previous experience in


other Organisations, who would befriend and ingratiate himself with one and
all. He was a very glib talker! He was looking after the then Skeleton
Carpentry Works section.
And, the list of Officers who were then on the Rolls of the Boiler Plant
included Executives from other PSEs and also the State Govt Departments.
Having been historically brought up in a culture of misuse of resources of the
Organisations they had earlier served, they perhaps either asked this pliant
Official to supply Furniture items to their Homes in the Township or were
willing to accept, when this furniture was delivered to their homes.
Presumably, this Official was also managing the Plant Security which was
only then being organised and beefed up.

When the Author and his Batch of youngsters with great ideals, joined the
Boiler Plant, they were very concerned and distressed, to say the least, upon
coming to know of such happenings.All well-meaning Officers were delighted,
when it was known that this errant Official was summarily dismissed from
Services of Boiler Plant and the beneficiaries of wrongful gains suitably dealt
with.

6.5. EXERCISING THE CHOICE OF TERMINATION SIMPLICITER

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It is to be pointed out that there is a provision in all the approved Standing
Orders, to terminate the Services of even a Permanent Employee, under
special circumstances. The gravity of the Misdemeanor/ Misconduct
committed by an employee should be such that, it warrants immediate
Termination from the Services of the Organisation forthwith.

The Chief Executive of the Organisation in Question has to Record the


Reasons, in writing, which compelled them to resort to this extreme
measure. It goes without saying that that the aggrieved Employee has the
freedom to seek justice in a Court of Law of our country. So much so, this
option, perhaps, was never exercised at all. It would not be far wrong to say
that the existence of such a Provision is, by all large, also is not known at all,
to many top Executives, even now.

Besides the case of Foreman cited, RSK, exercised this option in the case of
another employee who had been charge sheeted earlier for Misdemeanors
was subject to termination Simpliciter, for offences involving Moral Turpitude.
Incidentally, on a comparative note, lack of knowledge of a similar Provision
Namely, a Section in the Factory Act (1947) seems to be widespread even
now.!

Any errant employee who, willfully, neglects to wear the PPE given to him for
securing Health and Safety shall be punishable with IMPRISONMENT for a
Term up to 3 Months! or with a FINE up to Rs. 100/- !! OR BOTH is
specifically set out in the Factory Act, Section 111 C -'Obligations of
workmen'.

It looks as if, no Organisation in our Country, seems to have utilised this


Provision, even in the most deserving cases!
Of course, in today's scenario, any employee would be open to pay a sum of
Rs. 500 !!which would take of the Fine alone, up to 5 times!! However, the
current value of Rs. 100/-of the year 1947 is Rs. 30,000/-!!

6.6 PUNCTUALITY

Punctuality was a very important virtue, demonstrated by both of them.


We, the First Batch of GAs were witness to an incident that happened in the
Trichy town, then. For a very important function which was to be chaired by

A Story in our own words Page 171


the then District Collector of Trichy, RSK also was one of the dignitaries to be
seated on the Dias.
The appointed time in the evening was crossed. Needless to state RSK was
present in time to attend this function. The Chairperson did not turn up in
time. RSK waited for some time. Finding that that was no trace / indication of
the arrival of the District Collector, RSK returned to the Plant. Later, the
Chairperson turned up. After expressing regrets for his delayed arrival, the
function was started. The point of emphasis was that all persons have to
report in time for any meeting in which RSK participated.

6.7 A TOUGH WORKS MANAGER, WHO SET AN EXAMPLE AND


IMPOSED DISCIPLINE

Mr. Belliappa would every day come to the Plant well ahead of the General
shift start time of 8.00 a.m.in the morning. He would be positively seated in
any of the 3 Gates to the Main Plant Of course, no one knew in which gate he
might be seated on a particular day!! Most employees used to enter through
the East Gate, followed by North and the East.Belliappa had turned away
even Senior Officers coming to the plant after 8.00 AM, as he would be
seated at the Gate in advance! This very step compelled all employees,
including the very senior Officers to be at the Work spot at 8 AM.

On the very first day of his joining the Plant, he came to the Central Canteen
inside the Plant. The practice at that time was that the Canteen would
function for the First Shift up to 8.00 a.m. Mr. Belliappa chased away all
employees who were at the Canteen at 8 a.m. From the very next day, the
Canteen closing Timing was changed by him to 7.50 a.m. from 8.00 a.m.
He later on explained that it would take a maximum of 10 Minutes to walk
from the Canteen to the work centre which was farthest from the Canteen!
The System of Employees Punching the 'In time' and Out Time was in vogue.
Belliappa introduced the New Practice that the Shop Floor Supervisors and
Engineers, who knew the Employees Name and Face, should stand close to
the Punching Clock.By 8.15 a.m.every morning, the Shop Floor Supervisors
would have to take Physical attendance of Employees under his control on
the Shop floor. The Engineer in charge of the Production Bay was asked to
consolidate the same and forward to the office of WM.

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The Time Office was also asked to collate the absentees from the Punched
Clocks and forward the Absentee List to WM's Office. WM, would himself
verify and identify discrepancies, if any, between the Shop Floor List and the
Output from Time office.!! This robust system would ensure that there was
no Proxy Punching by one Employee for another. As we know, the New Bio
Metric system was introduced several decades later only! Again, on the night
of his joining, Belliappa went around the Plant premises. As one could expect,
the Security Guard. posted to a particular area was asleep. Belliappa in his
inimitable style, suspended him from Service then and there, took up the
matter with the delinquent employee's Superiors. An Enquiry Committee was
constituted the next day, a suitable punishment also was imposed on the
employee. The developments at the Canteen and the Suspension of Security
Guard sent shock waves amongst all Employees in general and perhaps the
Officers in particular.

Every one, though somewhat scared, was rather curious to see Belliappa
from a distance, but certainly not meet him!!
The other momentous Decisions implemented by Belliappa included:
Stopping of all kinds of Transport Vehicles Namely, Cars, 2 Wheelers, & Bi
Cycles used by employees for commuting to the factory and also freely enter
the Plant premises. These vehicles had to be parked at any one of the 3
Gates in use at that point of time. All employees were asked to walk a good
distance to reach their respective work spots.The most important point was
that he also, though the Works Manager, was walking like others, after
Parking his own car at the Gate only.!!

6.8 DECISIVE FOLLOW UP ACTION UPON AN OFFICER's


MISDEMEANOUR WITH A LADY EMPLOYEE

As there was incident of at least one Executive (who incidentally left the
Services) of trying to misbehave with a Sub Ordinate woman employee in
office, Belliappa transferred the few women employees who were working as
office support staff in the Factory offices to the Main Administration Building
No 24 located outside the PlantBelliappa started his Office, having one
Secretary. All the papers that used to come to come for his perusal /
approval would be disposed of the same day! No prevarication or
procrastination!Prior to his joining, the overtime to Artisans and Office Staff

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was being given in several Sections/ Departments of the Shops and Offices of
the Plant.

The Overtime Figures, though not alarming, was showing signs of increase.
The WM decreed that Overtime sanctions for urgent work might be necessary
and that He himself would sanction overtime, as needed.That was all. No
Executive had the guts and gumption to Approach the rather tough WM, to
seek his sanction for granting Overtime. The Overtime came to a naught
instantly!!

Everyday Routine of the WM was as follows:

After sitting in any one of the Entrance gates, say from 7.40 to 8.30 a.m.or
so, the WM would visit each and every Workshop and on some days the
Offices connected with the Work Shops also. To start with, the WM would
enter the Rest Rooms of the Workshop and chase away employees who tend
to stay in the Rest Rooms longer than necessary. Delinquent employees
would be practically Necked by the WM! Thereafter, the WM would enter any
of the Manufacturing Bays and check the Components/ Parts/ Products in
each of the Work Centres which would be under Progress and check the
status throughout his visit in a particular Shop, the Head of the Shop would
have to accompany him. And as and when he entered a particular Bay of the
Workshop, the Engineer in charge of Production of the Bay would have to
accompany the WM. Probing questions on the status and progress of each
and every item would be personally checked by the WM. Problems /
difficulties faced might be highlighted to him. But the very ambitious Target
for completion of Individual operation set by him would have to be met and
no excuse would be acceptable or tolerated. In case any of the individual
Machine tool was not in operation, say owing to Breakdown of equipment or
the required Cutting Tool or the Jig & Fixture or Documentation or Absence of
Employee or want of Loading, the concerned would be summarily called up to
the Shop floor and given a good verbal dressing by the WM.

The WM seemed to have, over the years, developed special expertise and
Skill in Questioning and Talking in an authoritative tone, commanding tenor
and interrogation mode which was hitherto/otherwise unknown to the other
employees.! The WM would first make the employee realise that he was
being interrogated because of the Blunder / Mistake committed by him only.

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After visiting each and every Workshop, & Production Support Buildings, in
the manner and style described above, he would reach his office around 1.30
P.M. In the A.N, his visits to the Other Workshops and Buildings not covered
in the Fore Noon session would be covered.

When he met, say the Engineers in the Planning or any similar Department,
he would first quickly understand the Tasks expected to be performed by the
individual Engineer in Question. Thereafter, he would start the Interrogation
in great detail, at the end of which the Engineer would be made to realise
that he had been performing well below his potential! The WM like RSK had
the National Fervour and Devotion of a very high order. This would also be
reflected in WM's session of Interrogation of Employees.

Here again, the most vital point was that he would remember the highly
ambitious Time Limit given by him to the Work Centre/ Employee as the case
may be in his earlier meet. He would vividly remember the same, and start
Questioning further! So, sharp was his memory, he would remember the
faces and much more the names of all the employees. The WM was a tall and
well-built person. In fact, he had been a Boxer! As each and every employee
came to know of his actions, being done by him every day, on seeing from a
far-off distance that the WM was approaching their Area, they would take to
their heels forthwith.

6.9. RATIONALISATION OF WORKMEN DESIGNATIONS

One of the maladies which was widely prevalent in both Public & Private
sector major units was the regular employees declining to perform certain
Tasks on the basis that their Designation was so and so only, and hence they
would not do activities what they claim pertain to other Designations.
Unfortunately, a large number of cases on the cited lines had been taken up
under the Industrial Disputes Act of our country. Invariably the honourable
courts of our country would agree with the point of view presented by the
Labour side only. As a matter of fact, many employees who had been
dismissed on the basis of refusing to obey the reasonable orders of
Superiors, had to be Reinstated in the same Factory with Back wages.

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This extremely vital requirement was addressed in the very beginning by
Belliappa & RSK team.

For instance, the Boiler Plant to start with had Designations like Furnace
Fitter, Electrical Fitter. The Designation Machine Operator would be ideal as
compared to say Driller, Lathe Operator and the like.
And in the recollection of the Author over 70 such Designations were
Rationalised and reduced to 30 & odd positions only.
This remarkable step was, perhaps, not noted by all employees at different
levels.

(As a matter of fact, the Author, aware of this wholesome step, introduced
the generic Designation 'Operator' right from the beginning in the newly
started large Granite Processing units in Chennai.)

But every Employee of the Plant soon realized 2 things -


1) The WM was fully practising what he was demanding from one and all,
and
2) He knew no partiality at all!! He would treat in the same fashion all the
employees from the lowest to the highest, unmindful of designation, age
years of experience; Nor was there any difference in treatment, on the basis
of the employees' Nativity, Language or any other similar divide!! So much
so, all the employees at various tiers started liking him for his unrelenting
efforts. Accordingly, their respect and regard for the WM went up by leaps
and bounds over the years and ended as Affection! perhaps, Belliappa's style
of functioning did not go well with a section of senior Management,
consequent to which, he had to revert to his parent cadre, Railways.

6.10 DETERRENT PUNISHMENT

As we know, the Expression 'Deterrent Punishment' has been used in the


Model Standing orders, as also the Standing Orders issued by different
organisations, based on the Model one.

In the initial stages of Plant Construction, generally, the Security


arrangements tend to leave scope for improvement.

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One of the Boiler Plant Employee was caught by the Security at the Gate, as
he was trying to take away the Soaps given to employees for cleansing their
hands, after the day's work was over.

It was well known that in such cases, the following explanations/ arguments
would be given in support of the Delinquent Employee.
· The value of the item which was being smuggled out was so low, that it
was not worth pursuing the matter further.

· The Employee was not aware that he was, in fact, carrying the items in
Question and that it was a case of slip/ forgetfulness only.

· The employee was from an extremely poor background and had few
daughters to be married off in the immediate months to come.

· He was the first-generation Factory employee that too coming from the
disadvantaged section of our society

· He had committed this Act for the First time.

· The Employee was very good at his work and as a matter of fact he was
indispensable to the organisation which had to complete several jobs/Tasks
in a short time.

· He was ready to immediately return the item that was being taken out.

· He was repenting for his mistake and was willing to give a written apology
and an Assurance that he would never repeat it in future.

· He was open to execute a Bond for an amount to be determined by the


organisation

· The Carpenter employee was taking out the Hand Planer to his Home so
that he Could practice hand planning at his come to further hone his Skills
only. He was to bring the Hand Tool back to the Factory, the very next day.
And as a matter of fact, had done so on earlier occasions as well.

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· And in the First such case of theft of company property at Boiler Plant, the
employee was summarily dismissed and sent away from the services of the
Plant. This acted as a big deterrent for other employees at different levels to
even think of committing any type of theft whatsoever.

6.11 HOW A THEFT CASE WAS HANDLED IN A DIFFERENT PSE IN


MID-60's

It would be relevant to recall how a similar act committed by an Employee,


was mishandled by a PSE located in Chennai. This Process based industry
was under Construction and an American Company was in charge of Erection
and Commissioning of the New Plant. A High-Pressure Welder was caught red
handed, trying to take out Copper cable.

Succumbing to the tempting arguments that this was the First instance of
Theft by him and that his services were indispensable, he was exonerated
and was allowed to continue in service. This Norm had to be followed as a
Rule in many such cases that happened in the later years in the same PSE.
The unwritten Norm was that an employee, indulging in theft of Company
Property, should be left off, on the first instance!!

6.12 THE POPULAR PRESENT DAY SCENARIO

One can understand that the present-day reader of this portion of the write-
up, would be laughing in sleeves! Now, many Top Executives of PSE have
their Black Money stashed in Overseas accounts! Further, Executives at the
helm of affairs pay substantial amount to the Powers that be, who in turn
appoint them to the Top Posts. And as acts of Gratitude, the Top Executives
generate unaccounted Cash both within our Country and abroad and also
arrange to deposit the same in their Benefactors's accounts!!

6.13 HAPPY BLEND OF CARROT AND STICK POLICY

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If RSK's style of functioning could be, by and large, termed more of 'Carrot',
Mr. Belliappa's approach was essentially a ' stick' one! Thus, a happy blend of
McCregor's Theory X and Theory Y, were effectively practised in the start-up
and initial stabilisation stages of the Boiler Plant.. This very effective
methodology indeed, laid a very strong, Disciplined, Buoyant, Team based,
cost effective and Result Oriented foundation on which a good Superstructure
could be built with relative ease.

6.14 DELAYED FORMATION OF UNION OF EMPLOYEES

The wholesome practices intentionally introduced right from inception and


the very Good communication, Top Down, Bottom up and Lateral ones that
existed, the proactive approach practised by the First line Executives in
finding immediate solutions to genuine complaints and grievances of
Workmen and the general and overall confidence gained by all the employees
at different levels, naturally made them feel that there was no need of any
third Party to serve as a bridge between employees and Top Management.
So much so, repeated attempts made by some employees within and from
outside to somehow or the other start a Union, in the Project stage itself did
not fructify. It is to be noted that all the Political Parties were very keen to
set up Trade union or strengthen their already existing Trade Union in the
mid 60s. In fact, vigorous efforts were being made by them to gain ground
somehow or the other.

6.15 RSK, A FIRM BELIEVER IN LEAN ORGANISATION

RSK was a go getter with a No-Nonsense approach. He abhorred wishy-


washy and namby-pamby attitude. He wanted things to be done effectively
and with alacrity. He did not believe in unnecessary Protocols or
paraphernalia.

For instance, he did not position Helpers to attend to the chores of each of
the Top Executives even in Offices, much less in their Residences, a common
practice in vogue in those days.

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At this juncture, what transpired needs to highlighted here. One of the PSU
located in the South India wrote a letter to RSK asking for the Norms
practised in Boiler Plant in regard to placing peons in the Offices and Houses
of Executives. In particular, they wanted to know up to what Grades/
Designations such assistance was being officially provided by Boiler Plant.
RSK replied to this Organisation that he, as the Head of the Organisation
himself did not have any one on the lines of what was asked, by way of
clarification, and, therefore, the Question of others being given this support
did not arise at

6.16 TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

RSK was a firm believer In Training & Development. He established a


comprehensive Training Centre in the year 1962/63 with suitable Hostel
Facilities, easily accessible from the Trichy Tanjore Road with the following
Sections Namely, Arc Welding, Gas Welding, Brazing, Fitting, Machine Shop
Housing Lathes, Milling, Drilling, Grinding, Horizontal Boring, Vertical Boring
Machines, Sheet Metal shop, Black Smithy, Drafting Boards and all the
needed Instruments besides the Stores and Maintenance facilities. All the
Operating Level Employees who were recruited were ITI Holders. These
qualified Technicians were selected, to later work on the different Shops of
the Main Plant; they were given intensive Training, using these Infrastructure
facilities in this Training Centre.

Even all the Officers, to start with, were given the grueling Task of Working
with Own Hands for specified months and make several Models. It is to be
noted that the Instructors at the Training Centre were accomplished
Technical Supervisors with excellent track record. Many of them were hand-
picked by RSK from the Railway Work Shops & the Ordnance Factory at
Ambernath.

The set up could be compared to the Indian Military Academy wherein the
Best Instructors only train the young Probationary Officers. As a matter of
fact, many of these Instructors from Training Centre later on became highly
competent Shop floor supervisors in the main manufacturing Shops. At a
much later stage, when Training Requirements were fully met, the Training
Centre became a full-fledged Manufacturing Asset!

A Story in our own words Page 180


6.17 PRESIDENT OF INDIA'S GOLD MEDALS FOR VARIOUS TRADES
BAGGED

It is a matter of great Pride that the Training Centre set up by RSK became a
National Land mark as the Trainees prepared by it, in various Trades like
Welding, Fitting were selected to be awarded the President of India's Gold
Medal for the Best Artisan of our Country in the respective trades, for the
particular year.! This achievement was repeated by the Training Centre for
some years in succession and the Gold Medal Tally of Boiler Plant rose to
Double digit figures.

6.18. TRAINING OF E.O.T. CRANE OPERATORS.

The manufacturing Shops having in all 62 Cabin Operated Electric Overhead


Travelling (EOT) Cranes, needed to be operated in 2 or 3 Shifts. This implied
the need for nearly 200 Crane Operators to be recruited. Further, each of
these EOT Cranes called for deployment of Riggers (also called Slingers in
other factories) to handle the various Loads in conjunction with these EOT
Cranes. Further, the Wire Rope Slings to be put on the Crane Hooks and on
the loads to be handled were to be hand spliced to make the eyes at the end
of each Sling so as to get them ready for use. Thus, a compliment of around
200 Riggers were also to be positioned.

Further, it is to be noted that Crane Operators, as a Clan, historically had


earned a reputation of Trouble Makers in other big Industrial establishments.
They tend to exploit the fact that their absence or willful slow working will
adversely affect the work on the Shop Floor, involving many artisans on the
Shop floor.

in fact, in the Factories which operate on Incentive Payment System, they


fully exploit their crucial position /role.

6.19 IN-PLANT TRAINING OF CRANE OPERATORS

It is to be noted that ITI Holders trained in various Trades including Welding,


a very vital requirement of Boiler Plant, were available in good numbers to

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choose prior to recruitment. But the same was not the case in regard to
Crane Operators & Riggers. In fact, there was and perhaps even now, there
is no Organised Centre in our Country to impart Training in these 2 Trades.
Hence, the Challenge of meeting this Requirement was decided to be met by
giving In House Training to suitably selected Personnel. This daunting job
was assigned to Mr. Hakim, who had earlier worked with RSK in the Durgapur
Steel Plant and one of the 5 Senior Officers personally chosen and positioned
to work with him as a Team.

6.20 EXAMPLE OF ONE PRACTICAL EXERCISE FOR CRANE


OPERATORS

2 Highly experienced Supervisors with long years of experience as EOT Crane


Operators, Namely, M/S Sethuraman & Martin, were selected to impart
Training to the freshers. This organised and Systematic Training included
Theory and Practicals. A series of practical Exercises were innovatively
designed and implemented. As illustration, one of the important Exercise
Designed is set out below:

Stands made with a suitable Base and a Shaft/ Stem all made of Steel and
having a Rectangular Shaped Frame made of Angles welded on the Top of
the Vertical Stem. were got ready. These Stands were made having different
heights from 1 to 2 Metres. The Rectangular shaped frames on the top of the
Stem of each Stand were made with an Opening/ Slot on the middle of the
Top member of the Rectangular frame. The Dimension of these Opening/ Slot
on the on the Top Horizontal member of the Rectangular Frame on each of
the Stand were made with Decreasing Dimensions varying from 12 cm to 3
cm.

And the Stands on the ground will not be kept in a Straight Line but in a
Serpentine path.A 10 Kg. weight will be hung from either the Main Hoist
Hook or from the Auxiliary Hoist Hook.

The Crane Operator sitting in his Crane Cabin has to himself, without any
Direction or Guidance from the Shop floor, take the 10Kg Load hung from the
Hook of the Crane through each of the Stand's Opening/slot on the top side
of the Angle Frame.

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The stands were intentionally made in such a way that a slight Tap on it
would make it topple and fall on the ground.
The Crane Operator has to complete the Exercise, without Toppling any
Stand and through all the Openings/ Slots which we noted were at different
Heights and in a Serpentine path. The time taken to, successfully, complete
the Task will also be clocked. Indeed, a high level of Dexterity of both Hands,
sharp Eye sight and sound judgement with speed were necessary to make
the Grade in the Test!!

6.21 TRAINING OF ENGINEER TRAINEES IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA

The Engineer Trainees who were quite bright and with almost all of them,
with some years of field experience, were Recruited and sent for intensive
Technical Training in the collaborator’s Works as well as in the Engineering &
Design wings at the then Czechoslovakia; the Training period of these
Personnel lasted up to 2 years. The Number of persons deputed for Training
abroad was around 175.

6.22 TRAINING PROGRAMMES OF NITIE FULLY BOOKED

In the years 1963-64 the National Institute of Training in Industrial


Engineering, NITIE was set up in Mumbai. This institute soon started offering
short Term Residential courses on several Management Topics, lasting
between 1 to 3 Weeks. RSK booked all the seats for quite a number of
Training Programmes offered by this Institute!! No other Organisation Public
or Private which was finding its feet would have ventured to take this
significant and enlightened step. It is the far-sightedness of RSK to have
thought of this unique step in mid-60's!! Thus, the culture of willingness to
learn at any stage or age and continually update oneself was firmly
established.

6.23 TRAINING OF GA's IN BHILAI STEEL PLANT POWER STATION

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As the Author writes write this, Author now recollects an important step
taken by RSK. He decided that all the12 Trainees of the First Batch of GAs
should be sent to Bhilai Steel Plant to work in the Captive Power Generation -
Boiler Plants Operated and Maintained by the Bhilai Steel Project.

Accordingly, he arranged to Hire a 3 Tier Sleeper Bogie for use of the GAs.
This Bogie was transported from Trichy Junction to Bhilai and back. Very
good arrangements had earlier been made with Bhilai Steel Plant authorities
for us to have first Hand Knowledge of the Start Up of one of the Boilers,
progressive stepping up of the Load to Rated Capacity, and the Operation as
well as Maintenance of all the 3 Captive Steam Generators. Incidentally, our
Batchmate, KUDUVA's eldest brother was the Head of the Captive Power
Station at Bhilai Steel Plant. Needless to mention that this was a blessing for
us. We could freely get all the information, Data & other Particulars regarding
the Operation & Maintenance of the 3 Steam Generators. Again, the readers
will note this was yet another unique step taken by RSK in the realm of
Training and Development in the year 1965!!

6.24 A BRIEF ON THE 2 TRAINING PROGRAMMES IN TRAINING


CENTRE

The Author recalls with nostalgic memories the 2 In-Company Training


Programmes, he attended at the Training Centre in the years 1965-66. The
First Training Programme was on Industrial Safety conducted by Mr.
Paramanayagam, the then Director of Regional Labour Institute Tharamani,
Channai. He was a good communicator who impressed all the participants of
the Training Programme. Apart from highlighting the 3 Causative factors for
any accident, namely, Unsafe Act, Unsafe Conditions/ Surroundings and
Proximate Factor, he narrated an imaginary anecdote in a Factory who has
been set out below. While conducting the Training Programme OHSAS:18001
Standard, an Expression is nowadays used by us, namely, to avert accidents,
one should Avoid USA (Unsafe Act) & USSR (Unsafe Surroundings)!!, Besides
the Proximate Factor!!

6.25 ONE HAND DRAWN SKID EVERYDAY

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There was apparently a conscientious and committed employee whose job
was Janitorial services / Housekeeping of the factory premises. He was so
diligent that he on his own, will use a hand drawn skid to clear the waste of
the unit every day. This was brought to the attention of the President who
personally noticed the good work being done by this Employee. In
appreciation of his contribution, he also extended a handsome Cash award to
this Worker.

Later on, it transpired that the awarded Employee was actually taking away
one Hand drawn Skid every day out of the Factory.!! The Second Training
Programme was on Industrial Disputes conducted by Mr. Guru Murthy, the
then famous Auto Industry Trade Union Leader of Chennai. He was an
excellent speaker in English and in Tamil. He recalled 2 Instances from his
illustrious Track Record. Out of this, 1 incident is outlined below.

6.26 FREEDOM GIVEN TO THE UNION TO DECIDE HOLIDAYS

The Trade Union for which he was the Leader was fighting for more
autonomy and freedom to be given in running the affairs of their Factory.
After a lot of persuasion, the British Officer reluctantly agreed to give their
Union the freedom to decide the Holidays for the next year for the Unionised
cadre. Enthusiastic as he was, he called for the General Body Meeting of his
Union members. All the employees were asked to give their choice of their
Holidays. After adding up the expectations of Employees, he found that they
have to be given 2 Times the number of holidays they are eligible for! He
therefore decided not to incur the displeasure of any union member. Then
only, he realised it was a trap by the British officer to make his job difficult!
He went back and told the Management to declare the holidays on their own
as was the earlier practice! There used to be an employee whose Designation
was the 'Writer’. His job was typing the Charge Sheet for employees. The
employees always felt that it was the Writer who was the villain of Peace and
accordingly, the Writer was even occasionally assaulted!!

6.27 ENLIGHTENMENT ON EXPENDITURE ON EXECUTIVES'S OFF


COMPANY TRAINING

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In the mid-70's, while working in the Industrial Engineering Department, the
Author was also looking after the Management Development of all the
Executives of BHEL Trichy. What was well begun by RSK, was rightly
continued with renewed vigour by Mr. V.K. A large number of Executives at
different tiers were sent to attend various Training Establishments located in
the different parts of our Country.

Somehow, the Author was feeling that the nominated Executives after
participating in various Training Programmes and upon return to our Plant
were not implementing the new concepts learnt. When the Author expressed
his doubt regarding the return on investment being liberally made by our
Plant, VK in his characteristic manner asked the Author the amount spent
every year on such Training, and the Author replied. He said that the amount
was quite small compared to the surplus generated by our Plant every year.
Some new ideas were of course pursued by some of the participants who
attended Training Programmes.

VK, in the Author's view brought out a very important point. He said the
participants do learn many new concepts and approaches from the Co
Participants, apart from sharing their experiences and perceptions to the
others they meet. More importantly, attending such Training Programmes
would make them very receptive to accept new Ideas/ Approaches.
Otherwise, they might tend to over rate their experience and capabilities and
would over the years become inert. This indeed opened the Author's Eyes.

6.28MANAGERIAL MENOPAUSE &ADMINISTRATORS. ANDROPAUSE!!

Later the Author coined the Expression which he used in the MDP
HallthatRight Training helps to avert the onset of early 'Managerial
Menopause. Much later, the Expression the 'Administrators' Andropause' was
also added!!

6.29 EXAMPLE OF CONTINUAL UPGRADING

In fact, a large number of Employees of BHEL were enabled to Take up and


pursue Higher education, while in Service. A number of Artisans joined the
Part Time Diploma and successfully completed the course. Similarly, many a
supervisor joined the Part Time BE Degree Programme and obtained the

A Story in our own words Page 186


Degree. In fact, there was one remarkable case of an Employee who joined
as an Artisan with ITI Qualification, passed the Diploma course. Later, he
joined the Part time BE Degree and secured the Degree.He did not stop with
that. He joined the ME Degree Programme and completed the same, quite
successfully. He was perhaps the only one Employee of BHEL Trichy who
attained this distinction. His name was Ramachandran. He served as
Engineer in theTubular Shop of Building 50.

6.30. TRAINING IN PREMIER INSTITUTES

It is to be noted that Executives had been sent to IIM Calcutta in the 60's
and later to the HAL Staff Training College, Bangalore.

6.31. BASIS OF EXECUTIVES' PLACEMENT IN VARIOUS


DEPARTMENTS!!

We have to note a very important and rather unique Aspect of BHEL Trichy
here.
Before highlighting this, on the lighter side, the Author wishes to outline the
popular Scenario present in most of the Organisations; even now the
placement of Executives in different Departments in Organisations is
generally done, on the following basis:
· If an Executive has the gift of the Gab and can sell a 'Refrigerator' to an
Eskimo, place him in the Marketing Department

· If an Executive is good at Man Management and can deliver results, put


him in Production.

· If an Executive is studious and Academically Bright, place him in Planning


or Designs.

· If an Executive is Hard working and has Diagnostic skills, put him in


Maintenance.

· If an Executive is thorough with details and technically sound but cannot


speak/ protest, put him in Quality!!

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· If the Executive is reasonably good in communication, but Physically
Handicapped or for that matter Mentally impaired, place him in Training
Department!

· If an Executive is otherwise not fit to be posted to any other Department,


make him the Safety Officer!!

· If none of the above is feasible, better Promote him and make him the
BOSS!!

6.32 THE CASE OF TRAINING IN CHARGE BECOMING THE


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Mr. M.K Sridhar who had earlier worked in the Durgapur Steel Plant joined
BHEL Trichy as Assistant Superintendent Training. In fact, he was in charge
of Training the First Batch of GAs for over 1 year. Later on, he rose to
become the ED of the same Plant.!

6.33 BASIS OF DEPUTATION OF EMPLOYEES FOR OFF CAMPUS


TRAINING

Again on the Lighter side, one has to recall the widely followed 3 Approaches
by Senior Executives, for deputing Employees for Off Campus Training:
First Approach: - Blue Eyed Boy Approach
In this Approach, the Senior Executive has his favourite. This Blue Eyed Boy
only, would be repeatedly sponsored for any Training Programme that comes
up.

Second Approach: - Nuisance Value Elimination Approach


In this Approach, the Senior Executive would have a Trouble Maker to tackle.
Hence he would find it convenient to depute the Trouble maker for each and
every Training Programme, so that he can have a peaceful Time in office.

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Third Approach: - Spare Parts Approach
In this Approach, the Senior Executive while looking at the Paper asking for
nominating the Candidate for the proposed Training, might find a sub-
ordinate entering his Chamber. The Executive, who just now entered the
Chamber, would be nominated to undergo the proposed Training Programme.
Thus, any one could be spared and the lucky one to enter at the opportune
time of the Senior Executive had the Chance now.

6.34 ONE WEEK IN-PLANT TRAINING FOR IAS PROBATIONERS. AT


BOILER PLANT

Soon after the Author's return to BHEL Trichy, in the year 1976, from the
Ministry of Industry, GOI, a Batch of 10 IAS Probationary Officers were
deputed to Boiler Plant for 6 Days to undergo the Orientation Training
Programme at Boiler Plant. Mr. Deenadayalu, was the ED then. And the
Author was assigned the Task of Planning and Organising this Orientation
Training at Boiler Plant. The Detailed Daily Schedule was Personally cleared
by the ED.

As it was perhaps the Standard Practice, the Trainees were taken on a Walk-
through of the different Shops as also to RSK’s Statue.
Very senior Executives from various Departments were detailed to address
these Participants which was followed by Questions and Answers session.A
meeting with the Union Leaders was also specifically arranged and the Author
recused himself from being present at this meet.

The Author as Co-coordinator also had a number of opportunities to


supplement and complement the details presented to the Trainees.
Without any exaggeration, it could be said that each one of them was Totally
and Pleasantly surprised that a PSE could have had such an outstanding and
unparalleled Track Record.

They were also overwhelmed by the kind of arrangements made to receive


them, their stay in the Guest House and all that was extended to them.
That the Author had a stint in the Ministry also helped him, to acquit himself
very Creditably the Role as the Co-coordinator.

A Story in our own words Page 189


6.35. TIE UP WITH IIM BANGALORE

After a number of batches of Graduate Engineers were recruited every year,


the idea came to make use of the Strengths of IIM Bangalore. Mr.
Deenadayalu was the Unit Head. One line of thought was that suitable
Training Packages on various Management Concepts, Tools & Techniques
could be Designed by IIM, in consultation with Boiler Plant and the same
could form a part of the Training given in Boiler Plant.
The other was that the Graduate Engineer Trainees might be deputed to IIM
Bangalore for a specified period. The IIM might also issue a suitable
Certificate accordingly.

The first idea was followed for specified period.

6.36. PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT AT ITS BEST

The Boiler Plant, in the perception of the Author, was at its Best in the realm
of Personnel Management, in its first decade after the Commissioning of the
Plant. The Personnel function, to start with, was looked after by Mr. Iyyappa.
The towering personalities this plant was fortunate to have had, in its initial
decade were so remarkable in Personnel Management that the unit had to
only follow the lead given by them! But, later, those who were earlier
working as Office Superintendents, Personal Secretaries, Stenographers and
Assistants became the Personnel Managers and even started heading the
Personnel Management! And this continued unabated. Of course, they were
very sincere, loyal, could keep information confidential, possess English
drafting skills and more importantly they had the opportunity to have worked
with Upper Management, at close quarters.

As they were Arm Chair Managers, there was vast scope for improvement, in
regard to Interaction with Executives at all levels, Knowing the pulse of
employees' expectations, reactions, feelings, assessments of the organisation
by employees in general, and the Executives, in particular. What was absent
was imagination, strategy and openness in taking risks and not resort to only
ceaselessly painting worst case scenarios to the Upper Management.
There was induction of bright and young Personnel Executives into Boiler
Plant. They were the likes of Muralidharan, Ramachandran.

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Unfortunately, they soon left the services, perhaps more due to the peculiar
environment prevalent in the Personnel function. The external environment
was also rapidly changing. The Personnel Management had the potential to
become the Achilles' heel of Boiler Plant. And it turned out to be as feared,
without disappointing one.!

7. MARKETING MANAGEMENT AT THE BOILER PLANT IN THE START


UP AND INITIAL STABILISATION STAGES

7.1 THE MAIDEN ORDER FOR HIGH PRESSURE BOILER

The very First Order for the High-Pressure Boiler was from the Tamil Nadu
Electricity Board and the Rating for this Steam Generator was 60 MW. It was
meant to be Supplied, Erected & Commissioned by Boiler Plant at Ennore,
near Chennai.

The Boiler Plant started Manufacturing many Sub-Assemblies for this Boiler,
based on the Design /Drawings given by the Collaborator. In fact, the
Produced products had to be put on Open Storage Area. within the Boiler
Plant premises, calling for extra handling and Potential damage by repeated
Handling and Possible Corrosion /'Erosion of the Products & Sub-Assemblies.
RSK decided to do so, as the Ennore Power Station site was not at all ready;
the facilities for unloading and the proper Storage of Boiler Products were
just not there.

There were many doubting Thomases in the various Electricity Boards of our
Country who were quite sure that the Boiler Plant would fail miserably in
terms of Timelines and also the Quality. And it was thought, the Order placed
on Boiler Plant by the TN Electricity Board might have to be cancelled and
instead the Steam Generators imported.!! Adding fuel to the Fire, a written
communication was received from the then Top Official of TNEB, expressing
doubts about the Competence of Boiler Plant to manufacture & Supply Boiler
Products and ultimately commission the Steam Generator, in time.

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RSK, in his typical style, arranged for a Rake of Railway wagons. The first
Rake of wagons properly and securely Loaded with the manufactured
Products & Sub-assemblies were dispatched to the Ennore Project site!! The
Boiler Plant had enough Products/ Sub-Assemblies to be loaded on quite a
good number of such Wagon Rakes then. The Customer was duly Informed of
the Wagon Rake arriving at the Railway siding of the Power Project in a
couple of days.

The Customer had to rush to the Boiler Plant, as the Power Project
Authorities would have incurred heavy Demurrage Charges that would been
levied by the Railways, as the needed facilities at their end were not at all
ready. The Customer apologized for the high handed behaviour and
understood that Boiler Plant would positively do what it had committed.

7.2 MOMENTOUS DECISION TO ENTER THE MARKET FOR


INDUSTRIAL BOILERS

After the Boiler Plant bagged the First Order for Steam Generator for the
Ennore Power Station, further Orders were not forthcoming. The Boiler Plant
was essentially Designed to manufacture 60 MW & later 110 MW High
Pressure Boilers Only.

However, RSK noted that there was immediate need and also a long and
sustained Demand for High Pressure Boilers for the Process Industries like
the Fertilizers, Petroleum Refineries within our Country. RSK decided to enter
the Industrial Boilers Market by locally taking up the Design of these Boilers
As a matter of fact, this was inevitable as the Collaborators had not been
catering to this Market at all. Understandably, the New Design Group was
hesitant, if not diffident to do downsizing of Boiler Design on their own. It is
to be noted that the Collaborators had not produced such Products. Even if
they had approached the Collaborator's, commercially, they would have
extracted their Pound of Heavy Flesh, which the Boiler Plant was not in a
mood or position to shell out.

RSK insisted on the young Design Team to take up the Design of Boilers for
the Process Industry. The Order from Durgapur Fertilizer Plant was
accordingly bagged.The Design for 30 MW Steam Generator was indeed

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developed and the Sub-Assemblies and Components produced, and the
complete system erected and commissioned. Although the Boilers from
Trichy were ready, they could not be commissioned, as earlier Targeted, as
this Fertilizer Project was otherwise not ready.

Before the Boilers for the Durgapur Fertilizer Plant could be successfully put
on Stream, the order for the Boiler for the Madras Fertilizers Limited (MFL)
was successfully manufactured, supplied, erected and commissioned. In fact,
the MFL had sent across a letter of Appreciation in this regard. As a matter to
of fact, this Boiler continued to give Service that was rated Outstanding by
MFL.The Bold and Momentous Decision of RSK that Boiler Plant had to enter
the Industrial Boilers Market, indeed, stood the Organization in good stead
later.

7.3 DECISION TO BAG THE ORDER FOR NON STANDARD RATING


BOILER OF 100MW CAPACITY, AND LOCALLY DESIGN THESE
BOILERS

The Badarpur Thermal Station near New Delhi had planned for High Pressure
Boilers with a Capacity of 100 MW. Here again, Boiler Plant Design Team did
not readily have the Designs for this Capacity Steam Generator. RSK
persuaded the Design Group to confidently take up the same. And, this was
done Effectively. The. Boilers of Badarpur Power Project of 100MW Rating
were manufactured, erected, commissioned and operated successfully.

This rather Bold Decision blended with Calculated Risk taken by RSK to
accept a Non-Standard Rating of 100 MW High Pressure Boilers, and take up
the Design of these Steam Generators, in the startup stage of the Plant was
the most momentous step which put the Plant on a remarkable and
successful path later.

7.4 EARLY ENTRY TO THE HIGH-PRESSURE VALVES MARKET FOR


PROCESS INDUSTRIES AND ENGINEERING INDUSTRIES OF OUR
COUNTRY

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The Valve Shop, was essentially set up as a part of Boiler Plant complex, to
cater to the needs of High Pressure Valves for the Boilers to be manufactured
by the Plant.However, RSK got the Pulse that there was a growing Market for
High Pressure Valves in the Process Industry as also the Engineering Industry
of our country.

Accordingly, a thrust was mounted in this direction. This, in turn, called for a
Marketing Professional Team to be positioned at Boiler Plant who could
identify Potential Customers for High Pressure Valves, assess their specific
needs, interact with the Valve Designs Group of Boiler Plant to make the
needed Designs and Documentation, Develop the Castings & Forgings for the
product in select Foundries and Forges, get the needed Machined Parts
produced at the Valve Shop, assemble and Test the Valves for Delivery to the
Customers.

Mr. Santhanam, a suitable Professional for this challenging slot was


positioned by RSK. This Team did enter the Market with a Bang. The very
first income of the Boiler Plant was for a very modest figure of Rs. ?????? .
for having supplied the Valves to an External Customer. The enlarged Copy of
this Maiden Cheque was displayed in the Senior Conference Hall of the
Administration Building No. 24.Although, the value of this order was quite
low, as compared to the Value for a High-Pressure Boiler, the culture of
earning money, even if it were modest, was imbibed by the emerging
Organization.

The fact that Boiler Plant did not have a Captive Foundry did impact the
Delivery time for Supply of Valves.to External Customers. Perhaps, it was
also a blessing in the sense that Herculean efforts had to be made by Boiler
Plant to develop reliable & technically competent suppliers who could deliver
Castings as well as Forgings at the appropriate Price and Time. It was a fact
that all Captive Foundries tend to become inefficient and unviable, besides
creating the nuisance value, associated with the Operation of Foundries!!

8. OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT IN BOILER PLANT IN THE START UP


/ INITIAL STABILISATION STAGE

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8.1 STANDARDS, DOCUMENTATION, & LIBRARY SETUPS

A rather unusual Step was taken to establish a Standards & Documentation


Cell as also an Excellent Library with appropriate infrastructure in the Office
Building adjoining the Big Manufacturing Block, Building 1.

The need and the benefits of Standardization including variety reduction and
consequent reduced Cost was appreciated by the founders of this great
Project. Suitable manning of this cell and the Library was also done by RSK.
Incidentally the East European countries including Czechoslovakia adopted
the Standardization Philosophy to its extreme. For instance, cloths to be used
/ worn by women or men of Czechoslovakia were standardized with reference
to sizes as also colour shades; there were only a few predetermined colours.
Dr. Joseph Juran, the father of Modern Quality Control & improvement, had
adversely commented upon this extreme position taken by the then East
European countries.

Though perhaps a digression, the following Paragraph deserves to be added.


The Standardization Concept was stretched to such an extreme in their
Country, the ordinary citizen of Czechoslovakia had to carry a Hand Book
which set out the Standard Numbers even for all the Consumer Products. For
Shopping purposes, this Standard Hand Book was a must! The readers would
be surprised to note that all the Expats who were serving in the Boiler Plant's
various Departments and staying in the BHEL Township, upon receipt of their
Monthly remuneration, would make a Beeline to 2 shops in the Township:
One, was 'Bata' shop selling Footwear, and the other, a Textile Garment shop
selling different Textiles. They used to be highly enamoured of various
colours and combinations of eye catching, bright clothes that they could see,
feel and try!! The ' Seetti' cloth which was very popular and also moderately
priced and used to be worn by young girls of Tamil Nadu as 'Paavadai' at that
point of time, was a runaway success, with these overseas personnel. In
other words, they were longing to wear/ own clothes, plain and printed with a
hue of colours and combinations. So was their craving for footwear easily
available in a variety of Designs at an affordable price tag in BHEL Township.

A Story in our own words Page 195


Coming to know of this sort of Shopping Spree by the expats, their
Government, later, substantially reduced the financial monthly compensation
paid to them in Trichy!!

The Technical Documentation received only in the Czech language had to be


translated, prior to use. For the various materials Specifications mentioned in
these Technical Documentation, equivalent Indian Standards had to be
found. While our Bureau of Indian Standards uses, the Prefix IS followed by
the Number of the Standard, Czechoslovakia was using CSN as the Prefix. As
an example, CSN 13123 was the Standard Number assigned for the Boiler
Drum Plate, with its own Technical Specifications.

To carry out these jobs, the services of one Mr. Chakraborty from West
Bengal had been engaged. Earlier, he was the Tutor to teach the
Czechoslovakian Language to the experienced Engineer Trainees from BHEL
Trichy, prior to their Deputation for Training in Czechoslovakia. In addition,
Mr. Chandrasekaran, Mr. Prithviraj looked after the Standards &
Documentation work. Mr. Sastry well trained in Library Services effectively
discharged his Role as the Librarian

8.2 PURCHASE MANAGEMENT

8.2.1 FOCUS ON INDIGENOUS DEVELOPMENT RIGHT FROM


INCEPTION

RSK right from the beginning, focused on Import substitution/ Indigenous


development of Plant & Machinery, not only w.r.t setting up of the Boiler
Plant Project but also for the manufacture of Boiler Products/ Sub-
Assemblies, Parts, /Components as also the raw Materials used for
Manufacture. This invariably, lead to reduced costs, conserved Foreign
Exchange, very often reduced the lead time for Procurement and Promoted
Local Entrepreneurship.

8.2.2 EOT CRANES PROCUREMENT FROM OUR OWN COUNTRY

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All the 62 EOT Cranes starting with a lifting capacity of 5 Tons to 120 Tons
which were to be installed and operated in Boiler Plant were to be imported
through the good offices of the Czech Collaborator. However, RSK once again
took a very bold decision not to import all the EOT Cranes, but get them
manufactured in time in our Country. It is to be noted that other
manufacturing plants in Public Sector which were also being set up in our
country, at that point of time or for that matter even later, only resorted to
import of these Cranes!! As mentioned elsewhere, Mr. Hakim was assigned
this massive ask. Accordingly, Orders for these EOT Cranes were placed on
Jessops &'co; Hindustan Motors, Greaves India & WMI. While all higher lifting
Capacity EOT Cranes up to 120 Tons was supplied by Jessops & co Kolkata,
only one 80 Ton EOT crane was imported from Yugoslavia.

The Pay offs to Boiler Plant, owing to this Indigenization Drive were
Substantial Cost Reduction, Saving of Foreign Exchange, Shorter lead time
for Procurement, Drastic Price reduction in Spare parts purchasing and above
all Promotion of Indigenous Industry, to which RSK was fully wedded.
Incidentally, Mr. Susainathan who was ably assisting Mr. Hakim, continued to
work in Boiler Plant but passed away later.

8.2.3. SETTING UP OF INDIGENOUS DEVELOPMENT CELL

The manufacture of Boiler involves the Production of a large number of Parts,


Components, Sub-Assemblies, Assemblies. Some of these items are not the
type of Products which could be produced by Boiler Plant. As examples,
Products like Pumps, Gear Boxes, Electrical Equipment as well as Raw
Materials like Different Types of Castings, Forging might be mentioned.
However, these Products do fall within the Scope of Products to be supplied
by Boiler Plant to its Customers. Therefore, the choice for Boiler Plant was to
import such items or procure them in our country and supply them to
Customers. The choice exercised by RSK was to get them from indigenous
sources, as early as was possible, by supporting and Hand holding them.
Accordingly, an Indigenous Development Cell was formed. 2 Executives,
namely, Mr. Ganesan, & Mr. A.K.B Lakshmanan, both of them having good
experience behind them were doing a commendable job. Later Mr. Antony
Dorai who was an Assistant Superintendent from Training Department was

A Story in our own words Page 197


transferred to this Cell. Incidentally, Mr. Lakshmanan, was earlier with
Chittaranjan Locomotive Works.

A good number of Products were successfully developed by this Team and


these included Gear Boxes, Electricals for the Electro Static Precipitator, Fuel
Injection Equipment. Suppliers for the Forgings and Steel Castings needed
for further Processing by BHEL Trichy. Later Lakshmanan, successfully
headed the Sub Contracting Department and made a noteworthy
contribution.
It is unfortunate that all these 3 Officers have passed away.

8.3 MANUFACTURING MANAGEMENT AT BOILER PLANT IN THE


START UP/INITIAL STABILISATION PHASES

8.3.1 DEPLOYMENT OF FIRST BATCH OF GAs IN THE PRODUCTION


SHOPS/ OPERATIONS

The Training Period of First Batch of GAs was reduced by RSK & Belliappa to
1 year, from the earlier Contemplated span of 2 years.These GAs, numbering
12 were posted to the various Manufacturing Bays meant to produce, Tubular
Products, like Economiser, Super Heater, Re-Heater; Rotating Products like,
Fans/ Blowers, Ball Mills; Boiler Drums; High Pressure Valves; Machining of
Components; Material Preparation/ Material Handling of Products. This,
onerous Task of First taking trials of all the Production Equipment,
immediately followed by the Regular manufacture of various Parts,
Components and Products of Boiler, using different manufacturing equipment
like Tube/ Pipe Bending Machines, Specialised Welding Equipment, Boring
Machines, Presses, 3 Roll Bending Machines, 4 Rolls Hot Plate Bending
Machine, Large size Heat Treatment Furnaces, various Inspection and Testing
Equipment including X-ray / Isotope facility, Material Preparation Equipment
like Saws of different configuration, Press Brake, Tube Cut Off and Plate
Cutting Machines, a Complete Package of various Machine Tools and Tool
Room equipment, Specialized Machines for Valve Machining, Lapping ,
Erection, Commissioning and Operations of EOT Cranes in the 3 Major

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Manufacturing Shops were practically spearheaded by them on the Shop
floor.

The skilled artisans qualified in different Trades like Welding, Fitting, Gas
Cutting, Metal Forming, Machining and Heat Treatment who were young and
of course fully motivated were being positioned in the various Manufacturing
Work centres.

A good band of experienced and Competent Supervisors, most of whom had


been trained in the Collaborator's works, were also being posted and
available in the different Manufacturing Bays. There was also the support of a
few Senior and technically qualified officers. Above all the guiding and
inspiring Stewardship of both RSK and Belliappa were very much present.

The GAs, though somewhat new, by their sheer Leadership qualities,


Intelligence, Domain Technical knowledge gained during the Training period,
Fair Practices, Man management and behavioral assets, teaming up with the
Boiler Inspectorate official stationed in the Plant and exemplary Hard and
Smart work, won the hearts of one and all. As a matter of fact, the mighty
seniors were, perhaps, wonder struck by the exemplary performance of these
GAs on the Shop floor. Of course, quite understandably, there were many
Employees at different levels who were highly jealous of them!!In fact, this
praiseworthy model of young Engineers completely taking control of Shop
Floor operations and leading from the front, became an admirable Trend and
soon a Norm that had to be followed by the successors, in the decades to
come.

It is to be recalled that in the later years, when Senior Management


Executives from other units of BHEL used to visit the Shops of Boiler Plant,
they were wonder struck at the fact that a large Manufacturing Bay with 3-
digit number of employees was being single handedly effectively managed by
1 young Graduate Apprentice turned first level Engineer!! The corresponding
Number in the other units were 3 to 4!!

8.3.2. OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION BY A FEW GAs of EARLY


BATCHES, WHO ARE NO MORE.

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As examples of Outstanding contributions made by 4 Executives from the
first 3 Batches of Graduate Apprentices who have, unfortunately, already
passed away are remembered here, by making brief references:
Captain Chinnadurai of the First Batch of GAs, as mentioned elsewhere, was
the Weight Lifting Champion of the Annamalai varsity. After a year of joining,
RSK deputed him for the Short Service Regular Commission in the corps of
EME of Indian Army for 5 years Joining as Lieutenant with the 2 Years Ante
Date, he was soon promoted as Captain. His distinguished service included
his posting to work at an incredible height of 19000 Feet above MSL in
Nathula Pass Area.

He later, explained to us that even walking a distance of 10 metres at a


stretch was a formidable task for all the Army personnel. At that awesome
height, the Oxygen Level was so low, it was quite difficult to even breathe,
much less do arduous tasks. The hurdles encountered to Sleep and complete
the morning chores was even difficult to describe here.On the lighter side,
the Vehicles at such heights were Super charged with appropriate
equipment; the same was not so for the Humans at work!

P.G. Chandamouli (P.G.C) of 2nd Batch of GAs and the Gold Medalist in
Electrical Engineering while working at Kothagudam Power Station, in the
early years of his career, became the eyes and ears of Mr. Tata Rao, the then
Chairman of Andhra Pradesh Electricity City Board, who was also a Legendary
go getter like RSK. It was not an exaggeration to say that the Electricity
Board Officials were dead scared to even meet him, much less explain and
convince him. But, refreshingly P.G.C, was an exception, thanks to his
exceptionally sound knowledge, suave way of speaking and Humility. It was
highly embarrassing for P.G.C to be praised to the skies in front of many
Senior State Government Officials by the veteran Chairman, while he was
always openly and invariably severely pulling them up for one slip or the
other. Later P.G.C headed the Commissioning wing with distinction.

Mr. Kurup, an IITian of the 3rd Batch of GAs worked in the Piping Design
Department. He endeared himself to one and all who came in contact with
him by his brilliance, Analytical skills & irrefutable Arguments. Incidentally,
he was an excellent Leg Spin Bowler who won Cricket matches for BHEL
Trichy, when the Author happened to be the Captain of Boiler Plant Cricket
Team. Again, on the lighter side, while bowling in the Nets, in front of the

A Story in our own words Page 200


Community Centre, Kurup broke the tooth of Mr. M.K. Sridhar, during Cricket
practice!; he was facing the Bowling of Mr. Kurup who was rather a slow
Spinner only; but the Ball unexpectedly and suddenly bounced up. Kurup,
later, left the services of Boiler Plant and soon passed away.

Mr. Mahadevan, a 3rd Batch GA, who had pointed in 1966, unexpectedly
passed away within a decade of his joining Boiler Plant. He hailed from
Kumbakonam. Incidentally, for all the human beings in our world, the place
of origin is Kumbakonam only, according to our Scriptures!! Mahadevan had
an uncanny knack of befriending all employees at different levels. Within a
year of his joining, he knew each and every Officer for that matter,
Supervisor in all the Departments of Boiler Plant! Incidentally, he was an ace
driver of 2-wheeler,who would reach Trichy from Township in 17 minutes,
even overtaking the then TN State Transport Buses. He was easily eligible to
participate in 2 wheeler Racing which was being conducted at Cholavaram,
near Madras! The only other employee who could match his wits was Mr.
Narayanan of the thin Tube Shop, located in Building1. Mahadevan worked in
the Designs wing for some years, but moved to the Erection Department as
one of the earliest GA turned Engineers. He was a natural leader and
excellent organiser but met his end very soon.

It is most unfortunate that these 4 GA turned Engineers have passed away.

8.3.3 MODEL OF A PRODUCTION, PLANNING & CONTROL


DEPARTMENT ESTABLISHED

A large manufacturing Organisation, producing a variety of very heavy


Products specially Designed and Methods Engineered, Processed with Exotic
Raw Materials Specifications, a lion 's share of which is coming under the
Statutory Indian Boiler Regulations (IBR) or Other Codes of Manufacturing
Practices like ASME, Calling for Deployment of Highly Skilled Artisans of
various Trades, including High Pressure Welding, Gas Cutting, various
Machined Components/ Parts, Hydro Testing, Liquid Penetrant, Magnetic
Particles and Radiographic Tests also involving Hold Points & Witness Points
by the Customers or their Authorised Inspection Agencies, Design Changes,
use of Specialised Jigs & Fixtures and their Testing prior to regular use for
Production, Quarantined Products/ Items, Product Review Set ups and above

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all Producing them simultaneously for a multitude of Customers, and with
long Cycle Time of Manufacture called for an Exemplary Production Planning
and Control set up. The Status and Progress of these Products covering a
large number of Work Centres both Machine based and skilled workmen
oriented had to be tracked, reported and controlled, giving rise to a network
of Bottom Up Information Reporting arrangements.

This was very admirably established by Mr. Ramasubramanian whose


strengths and contribution have been mentioned elsewhere. The
Documentation to address the various Requirements were built in, making
the same elaborate and foolproof as needed. A compliment of experienced
Engineers had to be deployed to give the needed support to Production. As a
part of this set up, Rate fixing Group i.e. specified time to manufacture these
innumerable components/ Products was also set up. The Inputs received
from the Collaborator in this regard had to be re-engineered; but the same
also facilitated the management of this crucial Requirement.

Towards this, a Team of officials Lead by Mr. Ramasubramanian visited a few


comparable organisations in our country by way of Benchmarking. The
practices, in vogue, in the Collaborator's Works was also reckoned, prior to
establishing the right set up at Boiler Plant.

8.3.4. SAFETY ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT SET UP IN 1966

A full-fledged Safety Engineering Department was set up in 1966. Mr.


Doraiswamy was put in charge of this function. Later it was duly
strengthened. The various Forms for Recording, Analysing, tracking different
types of Incidents & Accidents and the Process for Prevention, Investigation,
Analysis, Corrective Action & Information Reporting System were Designed
and introduced by Mr. Ramasubramanian.

Thanks to the sustained imparting of Awareness, Training, Participation and


involvement of one and all in the Organisation, and the remarkable total
commitment of Top Management and the untiring efforts put in for Continual
Improvement, culminated in the Boiler Plant receiving the British Sword of
Honour for Safety 7 times in succession in late 70s - a feat unmatched by
any organisation, both in the Private and Public sectors. It is significant to

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point out that the Strong Foundation laid by RSK paved the way for a World
Class Occupational Health & Safety set that was ushered in later.

8.3.5 FOCUS ON SYSTEMS & PROCEDURES

A large organisation, set up to manufacture Technology Intensive Product


subject to Statutory Control covering the Design, Manufacture, Erection &
Commissioning called for establishment of Systems and Procedures in an
extensive manner. Appreciating the need for this vital requirement since
inception, Mr. Ramasubramanian single handedly envisaged the Systems
Procedures. In fact, he had, on occasions given Dictation on Systems and
Procedures for long hours at a stretch!! Mr. Rangachary his Stenographer in
the year 1964/ 65 had to use 1 full short hand book. And, he continued the
Dictation in the Post lunch session for which 1 new Shorthand Book had to be
used.!! The important point to be noted is that it is rather impossible to give
meaningful Dictation, lasting for long hours. How Herculean and Brilliant Task
was it to Dictate Systems & Procedures on a Marathon basis! This bears
Testimony to Ramasubramanian's awesome Clarity of thought, sequencing in
mind combined with remarkable fluency in English. Mr. Rangachari in the
year 1964 had told us, the First Batch GAs that Ramasubramanian's Dictation
which flowed like a Waterfall had very little or no corrections to be
subsequently made at all!!

Later, the Systems & Procedures function was further fortified with a good
Number of Executives. This challenging Task was spearheaded by S.K
Ramachandran (SKR). He was a 5 in 1 (if not more, in the sense that besides
being a Gold Medalist in Engineering, he was a qualified Cost Accountant,
knew and practiced Stenography himself, an accomplished Homeopath and
was an Excellent Artist who could draw Sketches and Caricatures, instantly.
His Team in the mid 70's brought out a Compendium of nearly 1300 Systems
& Procedures covering the Trichy Complex. He was the ideal choice to
become the Data Base Administrator when Main Frame Computers with a
very large Number of Terminals were progressively installed in the Boiler
Plant.

It is unfortunate that SKR passed away soon after Retirement. In fact, the
previous day prior his untimely demise, he was imparting Training /

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Consulting at the Sterlite's Copper Refinery Project in Tuticorin. He had
teamed up with the Author to carry out the Unified Documentation and
Integrated Implementation of the 3, ISO Management Systems Standards,
covering Quality, Environment & Occupational Health & Safety, in that large
Private Sector Plant.

8.3.6 FORMATION OF FULL FLEDGED INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING


DEPARTMENT

While, the Rate Fixing Department started working immediately, a little later
besides Work Measurement, Methods studies were started covering the jobs
that were being carried out in many manufacturing bays as also the Stores
Department. Soon, the studies in the Offices also commenced.

8.3.7 PROBLEM OF INSUFFICIENT STORAGE FOR RAW TUBES &


PIPES

As an example of Study conducted in the Non-Manufacturing Area, the one


which was carried out in the Stores Department is given below, in brief.
The Raw Materials Stores included the Tubes and Pipes Stores. One of the
challenges faced by the Tubes and Pipes stores located at that time in
Building 1A & part of 1B Shop was the inability to Store and Retrieve the
Tubes and Pipes up to the Storage Capacity envisaged in the Detailed Project
Report. There were insuperable difficulties in, unloading the bunch of wagons
loaded with Tubes and Pipes bundles, in time. There was acute shortage of
Storage space provided; the Pipe Pillars had been erected to support and
hold the Tubes Bundles and Pipes in between them.

A study was commissioned to identify the Causes and suggest improvements.


Detailed Data collection and analysis showed that the Detailed Project
Report(DPR) had rather conveniently assumed that there would be only a
select Number of Specifications and Sizes of Tubes and Pipes. Further the
height of storage assumed was up to the brim of the Pipe Pillars.

The fact was that the Sizes, and more importantly the Specifications of both
Tubes and Pipes had proliferated, as Boiler Plant had no option but to import

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these Tubes and Pipes from any of the developed Countries whose Foreign
Exchange was allotted by Government of India and from whom the Tubes &
Pipes could be imported by Boiler Plant. Added to this was that the Bundle
Sizes were also substantially different, as compared to what was earlier
assumed in the DPR.

Train Rakes bringing Substantial quantity of Tubes and Pipes had to be


urgently unloaded from Railway wagons in a very short time, so as to avoid
Demurrage, as also not to block the Entry and Exit to Building 1 on the South
West side. However only 2 EOT Crane could be deployed to unload the
Bundles of Tubes and Pipes in 1A & 1B Bay. As 1B Bay had then only 2 E.O.T
Cranes, there were practical difficulties in sharing this EOT Crane with the
Material Preparation Activities in 1B bay. Further, Bundles of Tubes used to
be loaded by the Madras Port Trust on Rail Wagons one on top of the other,
without any space for a Wire Rope Sling to be inserted between the Two
Bundles to be taken out of the Wagon.

Even theoretical calculation proved that for stacking the assumed number of
Sizes of Tubes and Pipes based on the reckoned bundle size, the Stacking
Area envisaged was in sufficient. Further, the Stacking assumed called for
Storing up to the maximum height of the Pipe Poles, compromising safety.
The acute shortage of Cranage was also real.The Solutions contemplated
were,
1) Try to put wooden sleepers as Dunnage between two Bundles while
loading the Bundles onto the Railway wagons in the Port Trust.

2) Reduce the varieties of the Tubes and Pipes, over a period, if possible.

3) Optimize the Bundle size and

4) Increase the Height of the Pipe Pillars already erected; the Head Room
was sufficiently available as the 1A & 1B Bays & the EOT crane Operation
heights were also high. 5) Deploy Mobile Cranes also to the extent feasible,
so that more Tube Bundles could be simultaneously unloaded from the Rake
of Wagons. In fact, all the 4 out of 5 recommendations were pursued.
Reduction in Specifications of Tubes was rather beyond the Control of Boiler
Plant then.

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Later 1 more EOT Crane was also added to the 1B bay. Ramasubramanian
visited the site. He wanted to assure that extending the Height of the Pipe
Pillar Post to encash the Head Room available in the Particular bays should
not impact the Safety of Operations. He immediately started working on this,
by writing the Bending Moment formula for uniformly distributed load loads
on a Cantilever Beam and proceeded with the Calculations on the Shop
Floor!! Engineers much younger and who also had a bright Academic Record
and rather fresh from colleges could not do what was done by
Ramasubramanian, from his memory, immediately and effortlessly.

8.3.8 CENTRAL LABORATORY

Commensurate with the Stringent Requirements covering all the Raw


Materials, Quality Assurance and Quality Control of the various Manufacturing
Operations, Statutory Inspection &'Testing Requirements, ensuring the
Integrity of Heat Treated Products, a very well equipped Central Laboratory
was set up in the beginning itself.

M/S H.R.S Rao & A.S.N Rao were positioned to set up the Lab and lead. The
Lab soon earned an excellent reputation at the National Level for the
Accuracy & Precision of the different Tests performed by it. M/S RAOs were
very ably assisted by D.Ramamurthy, Srinivasan & Kasinathan.
Mr. D.Ramamurthy,a pleasing personality to interact with, was always
representing the Central Laboratory Cricket Team. Again, it is unfortunate he
has been no more.

8.3.9 SETTING UP OF ANCILIARY UNITS AND DEVELOPED PLOTS

The Ancillary units were being planned to be set up as a captive


infrastructure facility to serve the needs of Boiler Plant. The developed Plots
were being put up to cater to the needs of not only Boiler Plant but also that
of other Organisations.

It is to be noted that the Culture of Enterprise, particularly relating to


manufacturing was somewhat foreign to the eastern half Tamil Nadu! These
included major towns of Tamil Nadu like Vellore/Ranipet, Chengalpet,

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Villupuram, Cuddalore,the Towns in the then Trichy, Tanjore Dstricts,
Ramnad, Tuticorin , Tirunelveli and Nagar Kovil.

On the other Hand, the western part of Tamil Nadu having the following
Towns, Coimbatore, Salem, Karur, Namakkal, Erode, Tirupur, Tiruchengode
seem to have had the natural flair for Enterprise and more so for
Manufacturing!! What a natural divide.!This rather strange bur valid
phenomenon is being explained by a Hypothesis, namely, wherever there had
been shortages of water, including absence of rivers, the population living
around such areas tend to become Entrepreneurs. The shining examples are,
Israelis, Marwaris, Chettinad's Nagarathars!! On the other hand, where water
had been available, the population tend to excel in various arts, crafts and
the like!! The point to be noted was that the only manufacturing workshop
around Trichy was the Golden Rock Railway workshop. Thus, Trichy
historically was essentially a centre for Education only.

Also, it is to be noted that the concept of Outsourcing was totally confined to


the Production of Machined components and Assemblies only, throughout our
country. The idea of Outsourcing rather heavy Fabricated Parts, calling for
the use of Cranes was absent in our country. Thus, the Boiler Plant had to be
the Pioneer in this field and direction. These 3 factors were the main hurdles
initially faced to kick start the Production from these Ancillary units &
developed Plots. Added to these was the fact that Boiler Plant had to first go
through the learning curve, before outsourcing the Parts to the Others.

Despite these formidable odds, RSK did succeed in giving an initial push to
the development of Units around the Boiler Plant. Later this effort initiated by
RSK grew from strength to strength in the next 2 or 3 decades.

9. STRANGE AND UNUSUAL HAPPENINGS WITNESSED IN THE


TOWNSHIP

The type of living followed in the Township did create some peculiar
challenges. As examples, the following could be mentioned.

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Before appreciating the backdrop of the Circumstances/ Environment in
which the happenings took place, one has to note that the Salary Structure of
Boiler Plant Employees was highest as compared to other organizations. This
was true of all Designations and Cadres.

For instance, the Stipend for GAs in 1964 was Rs. 400/ month. The other
PSEs were paying a sum in the range of Rs. 250 to Rs. 350 only. Even the so
called Foreign firms operating in our country then were not paying as much
as BHEL. And the Town Bus fare from the Trichy Main Guard Gate to the
Township Stop was 25 Paise only.!!

9.1 KEEPING UP WITH THE JONASSES

In the mid-60s, one of the furniture items namely, Sofa cum Bed was
becoming increasingly popular. So, in a small street of Township, having
Houses on either side of it, one Employee purchased a Sofa cum Bed, upon
getting his Monthly pay. The Keeping up with the Jonas's Syndrome was so
widely prevalent, all the houses on either side of this street had sofa-cum-
bed in the same moth or latest after the next month Salary was disbursed!!

9.2 EXAGGERATED CLAIMS FOR ENHANCING MATRIMONIAL MARKET

Yet another more serious happening that repeatedly took place and lasted for
a few years. Most of the newly recruited Employees were in their early 20's.
The Matrimonial Market was a flourishing one! Of course, some employees
used to exaggerate their position; they would claim to be in the Supervisory
cadre when they were in fact in the Workmen category. A few would have
falsely told others that they had been selected to undergo Training abroad, in
the next few months!

9.3. YOUNG BRIDES' SUICIDE SYNDROME

Some of the newly wed brides residing in the freshly built Flats forming a
part of 8 or 6 Flats in all in 1 Block, had to face a totally new type of
problem. As it invariably happens, the Occupants of a Flat did not know as to

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who was or were Residing in the opposite Flat. Hence, there was very little
communication. The same was the case with the Occupants of the remaining
Flats in their Block as well.

Invariably, the Life Style of the Occupants would vary significantly. In one
house, the employee would be living with his parents prior to his Marriage
and this had to continue even after the new Member, as the spouse of the
employee joined the family. The freedom, flexibility and the Life Style which
the newly wed Bride would long to have was not possible at all especially
when she used to see other newly married couples. These fortunate couples
might not be suffering from 'Baggage' and 'Luggage', the popular expression
now used in the IT Sector Girls to be married (These 2 terms incidentally,
refer to Father in law, Mother in Law, & Sister in law respectively!!)

And believe it or not a number of Brides in a span of a year or so of their


marriage were committing suicide in their Flats.!!

Of course, there were always doubts and suspicions about what really caused
these Suicides!

This also resulted in a problem for the new House allotment Office. The next
person in the Queue waiting for allotment would be given this Flat and he
would decline the offer of allotment. In fact, the employees in the Waiting
List would be allotted the same Flat one after the other. There was again no
taker for these suicides committed Flats!!

Ultimately, the Flats in which suicides had been committed, were thrown
open to any Employee whose name was appearing in the particular allotment
List!! Later, this disconcerting development was entrusted to Madras School
of Social Work, for study.

Out of nearly 7000 employees at one time, only 3000 were in the Townships
at that point of time. The remaining number of Households which was
substantial but, located in Trichy, Thiruverumbur or in the neighbourhood did
not witness even a single suicide by the Brides!!
The type and nature of Housing, the different living styles and disparities in
the Township, the Environment and most importantly the Absence of
Opportunity to vent one's feelings/ problems to elderly neighbours were
perhaps the root causes.

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Owing to a variety of reasons, including the nature and type of living in Flats,
instances of illicit relationship was also prevalent. This also resulted in
employees committing offences involving moral turpitude.

9.4. THE FASTEST CHANNEL OF COMMUNICATION

The Township was having an excellent communication Channel between the


Servant Maids who were helping the Households in the Township! Through
this informal but effective channel, all the information relating to the Office
would be spread very fast in the Township. Which Officers, in a particular
Department, were promoted and who were not, would be an important Topic
that would be spread. Similarly, which Executives of a particular Department
were being deputed to go abroad, and who all missed the Bus would also be
spread very fast. The most embarrassing aspect was that the Housewife
whose spouse was not promoted or selected to be sent overseas, would have
to face Music from his wife.! The other interesting point to be noted here is
that, some of these would spread on the basis that was only a rumour. But,
invariably, the message would ultimately be proved to be correct.

9.5. STRANGE VISITOR TO HOUSE

On a Sunday, when the Author was playing a Cricket Match in the


Community Centre, the author's better half had perhaps rushed to the
Cricket ground. It transpired that a strange Reptile had entered our flat in the
EA Sector and that the same had been locked up in one of the rooms of the
flat. In the meanwhile, the inmates from the neighbouring Flats as also the
others had assembled at our flat. Upon reaching the home, it was noted that
the big sized reptile was in fact an UDUMBU. It was known to all that once
Udumbu catches something, it would cling on to it and would never leave it!
Some of those men who had come said that the House in which the Reptile
had entered would be a Lucky Home! Some others said the Reptile had to be
captured live, as the meat of this reptile was rated highly delicious, besides
being a healthy food!

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Ultimately, the reptile from the room was captured and taken away, giving us
a sigh of relief!!

9.6 THRIFT AND CREDIT SOCIETY

One of the highly successful entities started by the Employees in the


Township, in the early stages, itself was a Thrift and credit Society. Of
course, all the Employees of Boiler Plant were eligible to become members of
this Society. Yet another interesting feature of this venture was that this
came into being, owing to the initiative and Leadership Qualities of a band of
Competent Supervisory cadres of Boiler Plant. This set up was growing from
strength to, strength and every employee of the Unit became a member of
this outfit.

9.7 DEATH RELIEF FUND

A highly beneficial Scheme was introduced by this Society. This was called
Death Relief Fund. According to this, in the event of untimely demise of an
Employee of Boiler Plant who had been a member of this Fund, the other
Employees of the same fund would contribute a nominal sum of Rs. 1/-only.
At one time, as there were 11000/- Employees who were members of this
fund, a substantial sum of 11000/- would be given to the next of kin of the
deceased employee in question. The most beneficial point to be noted was
that this amount was paid on a very fast Track mode and paid immediately.
This scheme was working quite successfully.

9.8 GROUP INSURANCE

Around this time, Boiler Plant also introduced the Group Insurance scheme
which ensured a compensation amount of a minimum of Rs. 45000/- at the
starting level, to an employee whose Salary was also at the beginning level.
In addition, every employee of Boiler Plant was also eligible for Gratuity
amount, besides the Provident amount.

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Thus, for any Employee, upon demise, his close family member would in all
get an amount of Rs. 1 Lakh. This was, indeed, a substantial amount by the
cost of living Standards that was prevalent in the late 60s.

9.9. RARE INSTANCES OF MISUSE

However, this also seemed to have given rise to a possible unfair, if not cruel
practice. A good number of deaths of a particular Cadre of employee started
occurring, raising a needle of suspicion. The spouse of the deceased
Employee used to encash the Sum of Rs. 1 Lakh. Thereafter, she would apply
for a job in Boiler Plant that she was a Widow of an ex-employee! On a
humanitarian basis, the Spouses of Ex-Employees used to be given a job say
in the Boiler Plant Hospital.

Thus, the spouse of the deceased Employee will pocket not only a sum of Rs.
1 Lakh, but will also get a job in BHEL! The interesting point was that this
new Employee who got the job as the Widow of ex-employee would also soon
get married to a different Boiler Plant Employee!!

This is not to state that each and every beneficiary of Death Relief Fund was
indulging in questionable practice. Indeed, many of them made good use of
the compensation they got from Death Relief Fund and the Terminal benefits.

9.10 RARE INSTANCE WRONG DOING BY SOME EMPLOYEES’ GROWN


UP CHILDREN

Later, the Township witnessed a strange occurrence. A number Locked


Houses were broke Open and a good number of Items from these Hoses were
stolen. This continued to happen in a few Houses for some months. The
Police could not, immediately, solve the case and book the Culprits. Later,
the House Breakers were caught Red Handed. And they happened to be Teen
Agers of Employees sons!! Understandably, this created a flutter in the
Township.

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10. CONCLUSION

The author, fervently, hopes that the Write Up on Boiler Plant's journey,
covering the Project Construction, Start Up, and initial Stabilisation stages,
covering the period essentially up to the year 1967, would have taken the
Reader to events, and highlights this glorious Plant witnessed, during its
formative years. It is to be noted that the prism of Boiler Plant in its
formative years, with so many things happening simultaneously, has been
viewed from the rather limited perspective of a Graduate Apprentice (GA) of
the First Batch only. Perhaps, we, the First Batch of GAs had the opportunity
to witness and get exposed to the crucial phase of the Boiler Plant.

It is to be noted that out of the 12 GAs who continued to work in Boiler Plant,
only one Retired from service of Boiler Plant.! The remaining 11 sought their
future and fortunes elsewhere, for various reasons; this figure perhaps
denotes a very high proportion, indeed.

All our Batch Mates had an immense Satisfaction, Pride and a sense of
Fulfilment and Achievement, when we all re assembled in the year 2014, at
the Mother of our work place, namely, Boiler Plant!, where we began our
career 50 years ago. We stayed together for 2 days. And we all have to thank
the then ED, BHEL Trichy for making all arrangements for our get together.

Finally, the Author has to, with profound gratitude and immense
indebtedness, acknowledge the fact that but for his serving Boiler plant in
various Departments, his securing 4 UNIDO fellowships, and his stint in the
Ministry of Heavy Industry as Joint Director for 3 years, he could not have
continued to survive, if not excel in Management Consulting in his own style,
for 34 long years, not only in our country but also in many an overseas
country as well.!!
11. A BRIEF ON THE AUTHOR

G.R Krishnamurthy, the Recipient of the Best Boy & Best Seminar Presenter
Prizes from Annamalai 'varsity, joined the Boiler Plant as one of the 15
Graduate Apprentices of the First Batch 1964. Served in different
Departments of Boiler Plant. On Reverse Deputation served as Joint Director
Ministry of Heavy Industry GOI (1973-76) Under 4 UNIDO Fellowships, was

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Trained by Professor Ishikawa on Production Management in the Industries of
Japan, (1973), by Dr. Juran on Total Quality in the Industries of Sweden
(1976) and update Training Programmes cum Assignments on the 2 cited
Topics, in Singapore (1981) and in Thailand (1982) Reverting to Boiler Plant
in 1976, was put in charge of Heading the Tubular Production Shops. After
some months, was appointed to hold the additional charge of Project Co-
ordinator to set up the new full-fledged Valves Project that was to have come
up at Maraimalai Nagar, Chennai, owing to its location near Trichy, readily
available and developed Infrastructure including Power for setting up new
Factories , availability of a few Hundred Housing Flats, and the total support
the then TN Governor was willing to extend, so as to make a dent and
rapidly develop the Maraimalai Nagar industrial belt.

Later Headed both the Tubular Production & Boiler Production Shops (1980 to
82). Was put on 'Compulsory wait' in mid-1982! Quit the services of BHEL for
good in Mid-1982. Since 1982, has been practicing as Management
Consultant based in Chennai.

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Section -5
RK's Take

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Episode-1

Happened Episode 1 out of many RK (WRI)

1. ENTRY INTO PSU

It must have been in Aug or Sep. ’64 when I had stepped into the shed
offices of BHEL (opp to RPS)to attend an interview for the position of
Graduate Apprentice. I joined the others and went through the psycho tests
which was new to me and quickly found a strategy as how to answer 30 &
odd test papers (designed by Dr Yoga, Bangalore) within the time allotted
which I follow even today as far as possible viz: “Time is of Essence”. At the
end of day 1, I was asked to report for the ‘Group Discussion’ – that meant I
had gone through successfully the ‘Lucky Draw’ & this taught me another
lesson – ‘you live by chance’!!

Next day we were around 4 fortunates after the lucky draw to face the 3
elderly looking gentlemen who looked like those deputed from above to
decide our lives and we learnt that they were the assessors of our
performance in the ‘Group Discussion’. The subject given for the discussion
was ‘Dismal Performance of PSUs’. I have been a promoter of Private Sector
and not only that and had deep rooted anti PSU sentiments especially after
being the close neighbour of HEC, Ranchi (passed out from B I T, Ranchi)!
The reason for me to attend the interview was the 2nd class fare to & fro paid
and which sum helped me to go to my native village Vittalore (90 mins by
bus towards Karaikal from Tiruchi) to pay my respects to my Grandpa to
whom I was the apple of his eyes plus escort our Ms. Doris Day, Alsatian
Doggie to Chennai by train for crossing with a top Police Dog! Though not
fair to utilise the PSU funds for private purpose but made good by being a
part of BHEL to more than compensate the improper utilisation!

The topic given for the Group Discussion was of no consequence to me.
When I was in the hall, I actually felt like a Charminar smoke which was the
only cigarette available in a small Petti Kadai at the office venue. As a
courtesy, I offered my Charminar Pack first to the 3 judges and then to my 4
co-candidates attending the interview and alas, all thanked me and none
took one Major decision to smoke or not? Having put the foot forward, the
major decision was made – to smoke!! While my attempt to light a cigarette

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won the gratitude of my mental system, I quickly noticed that I must
impress the judges quickly by participating effectively on the topic given.
Though the suggestions expressed by the co-candidates were logged
remotely in one corner of my thoughts, I expressed out of the blue that I do
not agree with any of their thoughts all of a sudden! They must have cursed
me whole heartedly – I then quickly collected my thoughts and said that the
Government believed in the government officers and had nominated various
IAS or those who were on the verge of retirement or those who had already
acquired the ill-gotten wealth or those who had no knowledge of the
managerial skills required to run the huge PSUs. I quoted HEC, Ranchi as an
excellent example of what I expressed. Only exception was Railways in
India. I said that how one can expect performance from PSUs when
decisions were taken by those with no knowledge and also the managerial
skills. There was a smile in the face of one of the 3 judges and I had earned
my TA from Chennai to Tiruchirapalli and back!! We waited outside and I
was called in for the Interview – vow, patted my back to have advanced thus
far!!

I was ushered into a room where there was a name board outside – ‘R S
Krishnan, Project Administrator’. Lo & behold, the old man who was one of
the 3 judges and who had a smile on his face after I spoke aloud in the
Group Discussion Hall was our RSK indeed! I knew then what may be the
possible fate and was indeed nervous and the resolve came to me that
though an anti PSU boy, I wanted me to be selected like climbing upto
Everest just with 4 feet or so left to hoist our Tricolour Flag!! RSK, I guessed
it must be him as he was sitting in his seat squarely and the other 2 (one Mr
Kanungo, I guess now and then the third person whose name I have
forgotten was the Head of the Training Centre?) were sitting next to RSK on
either side.

First Question by Training Centre Chief: Do you have any experience?


Yes, Sir – I answered that I was working with a Bombay based Vijay
Industries who were involved in making Horizontal and Large Vertical Oil
Storage Tanks and in that company, my journey to the subject of Welding
began! I was in charge for South India – where 15 to 18 hours of working
including Sundays commenced and became a forerunner for BHEL. One
Judge asked me to explain the manufacture and erection sequences of the
100 Ft Vertical Tanks of dia 60 Ft.I was myself impressed with my response!

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Then, RSK gave a current subject: Smoking – I was the Chief Public
Relations Officer of I T C and so much of anti smoking opinions in the papers
– how can you counter it? Requested for 2 minutes to collect my thoughts
and at that instant, RSK offered a Cigarette from his Charminar Packet – I
said No, Thanks and he said ‘you were puffing to glory during the
discussions and hey, you cannot escape one’!! I took 1 and he was kind
enough to light the cigarette for me! In response to the subject given to me,
I replied that ITC will run a series of ads to come on every Sunday Morning
at front page right hand quarter page – covering a thought each week say,
to start with – new ideas spring when the cigarette puff enters you
(appropriate cartoon in the newspaper ad with celestial Rambha, Urvashi,
Tilotthama & Menaka) appearing every week with a story on their beauty,
adds status to the company / self when you carry a pack with a lighter for
the meetings, another one which must have been a clincher – even most
successful Project Administrators are so due to smoking!! Thought it will be
over – RSK then asked me the diameter of the Basketball as I had indicated
Basketball in my hobbies; I told him honestly that I never had the necessity
to measure the diameter but I guess that it would measure to around 12” by
showing my both hands as if holding it! Next one from the tireless RSK – you
have said that Carnatic Music is one of your hobbies and can you sing a
Carnatic song? Without any waste of time, I sang a composition by Saint
Thygaraja ‘Sarasa Sama Dhana, Bedha Danda Chatura …..’ without any
hesitation! That was the end of my great experience to commence my
journey into the great organisation and the illustrious association with
various heads after RSK. I had the unique privilege to work very closely with
all the Heads of BHEL both in Tiruchirapalli and other Units including
Chairmen and at the Ministry Level. Will follow more interesting episodes!!

RK
(For Private Circulation only; Attempts would be made to avoid
embarrassment to few in & outside unless, it becomes necessary to bring
out the essence)

A Story in our own words Page 218


Episode-2

Appointment Letter from BHEL RK (WRI)

RK Episode 2 Rev Nil dated 8 Aug.2017

2.1 Shift Chemical Engineer

After my stint in the fabrication organisation in Madras . I was working with


Reichhold Chemicals Ltd., Madras as a Shift Chemical Engineer!! My dad’s
boss in the British Army Maj. R K Stanford joined Gordon Woodroff (Motors)
Ltd. Madras as G M after being demobbed from Army after independence
along with my Dad. He got married with his British girl friend in Madras
which I had attended when I was a boy of 8 years. Major later went back to
UK and it was rumoured that he fell off with Mr S Anantharamakrishnan,
C’man/ Amalgamation Group on some trivial issues. A single group of nearly
29 companies dealing with Automobiles starting with Simpsons Ltd., with the
exception of English Evening Daily – The Mail from Madras was the unique
feature of the Amalgamations Group. Dad was the go between and managed
to get Chairman to offer Major back to the group as the Director for setting
up a company for the manufacture of Ford Trucks – it seemed to have fallen
off the roadside due to Iyer – Iyengar glitch when TTK was the Finance
Minister! Then Major was assigned as the M D of Reichhold Chemicals Ltd.,
which was cooking resins for various engineering materials. During that
period, I was directed by Dad to meet Major as requested by Major! I had a
meeting in the large & long A C room wading through pipe smoke in the
Corporate Offices of Amalgamations. Major was a great friend of Editor of
Hindu and Major asked me to apply for Hindu-Hitachi Scholarship (2
positions for Electrical Engineers from India!) and Hitachi seemed to have
reluctantly agreed to shortlist me as the 3rd candidate if one of the already
selected electrical engineers does not join. Alas, both the selected joined
(note from Major to Hindu Editor is attached – Annexure 1) and then Major
desired that I join his company as a shift Chemical Engineer; I was not
willing as I may not be recognised as either a Mechanical or a Chemical
Engineer. Major insisted that after 3 months, he would depute me to USA
Parent Company for advanced training – I expressed my willingness to
migrate to the chemical terrain if I was comfortable during my stint of 3
months.

A Story in our own words Page 219


2.2 Story of Resin

One day, Company had planned to cook a resin for the first time (around
Sep.’64) titled Carbomine, the resin for binding carborundum particles used
to make grinding wheels. Since I was a green cap, they had assigned the
early easy hours of cooking and the 3 other senior chemical engineers to
handle the balance of the balance of the tougher 2 day cycle. Went to the
Plant and after about 5 hours, rains started lashing – power & telephone
lines cut off; then there was a breach on the only trunk road! I had suddenly
a great load on my shoulders – using my chemistry knowledge of my B Sc
curriculam, went through the cycle management, chemicals additions (some
of them highly obnoxious which will choke you when added from the
manhole top of the indirectly heated kettle with Arochlor fluid at around 650
Deg C!) and finished the cooking successfully! I had the power which was
running on Gen Set and 3 workers to assist.Food in the fridge for all of us.
Expected yield of 15 Drums of the Resin was filled which met all the
specifications – pH & Viscosity! If something had gone wrong, the entire
mass inside the pressure vessel may have gelled and that would have been
a catastrophe for the company & me!! That was the first chemical
engineering achievement in my career – I had hugged all the 3 workers and
put up my feet on the table with my Capstan Cigarette going up in smoke
signalling to the Major, Chief Chemical Engineer and 2 Shift Engineers who
must have pitied me anticipating a major goof-up at the Plant while on their
way to the Plant! The rains after 36 Hours slowed down and the entire Peer
gang landed to see the Drums of Resin along with the Excellent Quality Test
Reports! Major was so proud to witness the unanticipated and gave me a
bear hug; announced an award of Rs. 5 K (my salary then was Rs. 600 p m)
and out of that I had shared the well earned sum with the 3 workmen!! My
collars went up and major was proud of the selection made by him to get me
into the company.

2.2 Communication from PSU

Now comes the connection to Mr P A Menon, Dy. Supdt /Estt. Heavy


Electricals (India) Ltd.Tiruchirapalli! A Communication was received in
Sep.1964 (?) intimating me the results of the GA Interview. Having been an

A Story in our own words Page 220


anti-PSU citizen, the letter from BHEL was an amazing read (D O Letter –
copy missing!) intimating that out of thousands of applications and with
about 1500 interviewed, I was one of the selected!! My day was made and
my Dad was totally surprised to receive such a worded letter! I was
impressed and not enough to change my views on PSUs!! Expected to
receive a cowdung color stationary with a Master-Servant lingo in content!
Left it at that!
Something happened in my life exactly at that time which made me
disturbed. That day was 19 Oct.’64, the date before to commence our GA
Training. I was picked up by the company Morris Minor car to the Plant near
Redhills to commence the resin cooking cycle and on the way, I had asked
our Driver to stop at the General Post Office at Mount Road and sent out a
Reply Paid Telegram to Mr P A Menon requesting extension of joining date by
a month (just out of impulse). When I came back home at midnight from my
shift, there was a prompt reply telegram which said “extension granted”.
Another surprise! Then the next day my mind went back to the contents of P
A Menon’s Appointment letter and the reply paid telegram response. Dad
was also surprised to see those 2 communications received from P A Menon
and indicated his appreciation of the PSU. The letter from Mr P A Menon
received on 21 Oct.’64 & 1 Dec.,’64 (attached as Annexures 2 & 3 which
would speak for itself and these letters made me to uproot my self to
Tiruchirapalli – thanks to P A Menon! ) were the sweet straws which
clinched me to try my destiny at HI, India Ltd.. Destiny had it that BHEL had
to bear with me until 3 Sep.’84!!!! Another letter followed giving me the
Quarter No. B4/173 where my accommodation has been arranged – that
was the concern which made it more impressive!! I was able to reach my
allocated living quarters in B Sector to be accommodated with PLR, Jacob &
Ibu and there commenced the major portion of my impressive journey
(impressive for me!!). One did not know at that time the challenges which
lay ahead!

RK
(For Private Circulation only; Attempts would be made to avoid
embarrassment to a few in & outside unless, it becomes necessary to bring
out the essence in the narration.)

A Story in our own words Page 221


Episode-3

Training Phase in BHEL RK (WRI)

RK Episode 3 Rev Nil dated 9 Aug.2017

1.1 Training Phase

It was 3 Dec’64 that I had gone straight to B 4 / 173 to leave my stuff and
reported to Personnel Department.Met P a Menon and A P Ayyappa. After
formalities, was directed to go to Training Centre where we met MKS who
was the Asst. Supdt.and we were to report to him. MKS was so shy that his
demeanour was found appropriately so! Then hope descended on me that
this is the area where I would be spending quite a time after absorbing the
skills required. Met all the other GAs (Balakrishnan, Bhat, Chinnadurai,
Dominic, Ibrahim, Kannan, Krishnamurthy[GR], Kudua, Pattabhiraman,
Ramanathan&Sampath) and I was the last to join. Had a great feeling and
thought it good to spend the future years with them! Not far away was our
dwelling from Training Centre; we had 2 messes being run – Non Veg and
Veg... PLR had brought his own cook from Chettinad and whose cooking was
above par (Idlies/Chutney and Chicken Curry)! The other was managed by
Nair. We had coordinators by turn to run the messes. I was in the Mess
whose cook was Nair; Nair came possibly to look for an unskilled worker
position and also to our fortune landed up with us! Every week, our Mess
Coordinator will sit with the other members when the menu will be decided
for breakfast & dinner for the weekdays and gala lunch on Sundays. Will ask
for Nair’s choice of Curry on Monday, his choice would be Beet Root Curry;
then on Tuesday – his choice would be again Beet Root Curry and Beet Root
every day!!! That was the last any of our mess members had Beet Root
Curry! One thing stands out - Specialist is defined as one who researches to
find more and more of nothing & nothing – Nair must have excelled in being
the best Chef specialising in Beet Root Dishes! He was a caring guy and we
came to like him more and more.

12 GAs were accommodated in B4/173, B4/174 & B4/174F with 4 in each


Type 4 Quarters. In B4/173, we shall rotate every month the bed location –

A Story in our own words Page 222


2 in master bedroom, 1 in the entrance hall and 1 in the child room; every
month, we shall meet to decide the allocation; we can never get our choice
with Dominic around and then descended the new innovative management
method ‘Dominic Technique’ and it was the rest 3 of us would express our
choice strongly as we desire Dominic to occupy; Dominic would vociferously
opt the same one which we would accept very reluctantly!! He does know
this even now and in our family, Dominic Technique has been put in use with
great success and is spreading as our Tribe is progressively increasing!!

1.2 Daily Routine & Rotational Training

If our daily reporting time was 0800 hrs., our GAs would step inside the
Training Centre not earlier than 0815 hours as a regular habit and walk
through the centre of the workshop hall right royally when we will notice
MKS in one remote corner and who would quickly get back to his office
without confronting us! After about 30 minutes, there will be a note of
reminder to each of us from MKS on a strict warning to maintain punctuality!
May be he also knew that we were the blue eyed boys of RSK! I remember
that there was an occasion and RSK was to address the gathering in front of
Factory Canteen – I happen to be standing almost in front. There comes
RSK, a royal personality and first thing he did was to wish me singularly with
a big wave of hand amongst so many gathered and shake hands by stepping
down to the ground level! That was his unique way of showing off his blue
eyed boys!! Can you fathom my feelings of elation then??!! We were to be
starting in Training Centre (all sections – Fitting, Machining, Tool Room,
Welding & so on) and attend lectures by various Trainers. We were strictly
monitored by the vigilant MKS (like a CCTV Camera!) and our performance
assessed with reports generated for final assessment! Then we had go to
various departments like Production Planning, Cranes, Stores, Purchase,
Personnel, Transport, Various Shops, WTC et cetera for various duration
totalling to 1 year from the date of joining. After we finish our training in
each department, we have to meet face to face with the HOD to whom we
can shoot questions and the HOD was supposed to assess us. We 12 GAs
were divided in groups; once we had the final meeting with the smart Mr
Ramasubramanian, Supdt / Production Engineering. He used to show off in
reeling out 120 to 150 English words per minute and he was always an
outright winner in any discussion. One of our members in our Group GRK

A Story in our own words Page 223


(another great researcher in our GA Group) gave the HOD a A4 sheet which
had around 10 or so questions; HOD went through the list and threw all of
us out of his room by shouting at high pitch while GRK was trying to
convince the HOD that our group has all the answers assimilated after the
training to all those questions in the A4 Shee!! But HOD will not have
anything to do with us and we had no clue as how we may have been
assessed for our performance in P Planning! (As I had completed the above
paragraph, I had sent a mail to MKS and we are meeting for lunch on Friday,
18 Aug.’17 to talk about the good old days in BHEL and to restart where we
left last at IWS at the Welding Exhibition in Dec. 2016!!) Each one of GAs
had tried to gather as much knowledge as possible during the first year out
of the 2 year training period. It was then most of the experienced
engineering personnel who were deputed to CSSR for training in the
identified areas in the areas of gap had returned excepting a very few. Each
of these personnel had an aura of knowledge which we were attempting to
pluck. I had a lot of questions in my field of interest (then I was in WTC and
the Drum Shop was still under construction) and I will approach hopefully
the CSSR returned expert that I will get the knowledge that I have been
looking for all these years. The expert would open the top drawer of his T8
Godrej table and pull out a Czechoslovakian book and open (stealthily!) and
tell me which Welding Consumable (say SMAW E52.83 or so) is
recommended to be used for joining metals A & B. When I intend to prolong
my discussion as to the know-why, the conversation would end abruptly!!
This incident was like Buddha’s Bodhi Tree Awakening for me – Lessons
learnt were: First get into the subject thoroughly by using all the available
sources and then educate your Associates all the knowledge you have
acquired! This became the forerunner to me in handling challenges and will
narrate some of the problems which fortunately came to me during my
career in and out of the country in my later episodes. The basis behind these
lessons had helped me in running various organisations as well as my own
life!

1.2 Entry of Belliappa

The best thing that happened to BHEL was the entry of indomitable The
Bellippa.Master stroke of RSK to have got him to contribute to BHEL,
Tiruchirapalli in the field of Discipline & its Management. As usual, some of
us GAs were entering the Northgate at around 0815 Hrs + and the usual

A Story in our own words Page 224


Kakhi Clad Security at the Security Check point was replaced by a smart
looking person clad in civilian dress; I know instinctively that this must be
that Belliappa which we had been hearing about!! He addressed me –
“Gentleman – I do not want to see you again at a time like today. Please
hand over your I D and it can be collected later at the Personnel
Department”. Then we knew that The Man has arrived! We ran to assemble
at our usual place - almost an unoccupied empty room excepting for 2
drawing Boards just before the library which was our meeting room where
the day’s events would be discussed and to plan for that day’s agenda!! This
news of Belliappa’s entry into us came like a welcome wild fire and this
helped me in standing next to the Punching Clock in Drum Shop / WRI and
also waiting for the prey in the Security Check Point at WRI in later years!! I
met an Inspector at WRI gates and he gave me a smart salute; informed me
that he was a security guard posted at WRI during my time and recalled my
sitting in his chair from 0745 hrs onwards!! That was Belli and not me!!

1.3 Belliappa’s usual daily routine

Belliappa would go through every department in BHEL as a daily routine so


nothing escapes him and the last place before getting into his room was
Drum Shop. Both my colleague V Sundararajan, A S / Drum Shop(he an
upright officer who later rose to become CMD/NTPC) and myself would
receive him. First thing he used to do was to pick up a Charminar from my
pocket which I will light for him gladly. He would go through the progress
and ask us of any issues which should be brought to him. This routine
continued until his last day in BHEL. What was meted out to Belli was a
gross travesty of justice by those responsible for having prevented Belli to
have made a higher contribution.

Another good trait Belli had was keeping a total of not more for that 5 or 6
Files only in his office. Any note / mail which goes to him will be routed to
Departments concerned with directions and go back to the same department
from where the original emanated to be filed! Though I had tried to follow
this trait in my career, I had succeeded may be to the tune 25%, thanks to
Belli.

During our rotational training, we were in the Purchase Department and the
Department had been instructed to show us the current tricky & confidential

A Story in our own words Page 225


files for us to know as part of our training and more so because we were to
be the future heads of BHEL, Tiruchirapalli to start with. During those days,
Finance department always acted as the Leader of Opposition like now in
politics. We went through a list of interesting files and in one of the files,
RSK has written in his handwriting “B S, B S & B S”. After breaking my mind,
we expressed to meet up with RSK to seek a clarification – Finance never
proceeded with any comments after the B S …… RSK said that there wasno
point wasting our energy & it meant “Bull Sxxx, Bxxx Shit…..”!!! P T
Venugopal (F A & C A O) was reporting to CMD and not to unit head. I am
sure that this must have been picked up by VK who had managed to revise
the organisation which was a major reason for the success of BHEL!

1.5 Department Allocation

One fine day nearer to the finish of 1 year training program, Belli called us
all to his Conf. Hall and said that you have 15 mins to indicate your single
choice!! Murmurs around requested for indicating the second plus third
choice too. It was gracefully accepted by Belli. This was another milestone in
one’s career which can turn into any direction!! Chits were personally
collected by Belli and I remember vaguely, the results were announced the
same day so as to result in good sleep…. I was not sure how do I bid myself
on my choice and after making up my mind to obtain a desired placement in
Drum Shop only. I was sure that I had the previous experience in Welding
Fabrication plus B Sc!! Being confident that BHEL would also be considering
the input qualities required to man a Pressure Part facility, I gave in my slip
with my choice of Drum Shop for all the 3 choices! This was not disclosed to
anyone until now but Belli & RSK have seen; one has to take calculated risks
and it paid off then and later too!RK (For Private Circulation only; Attempts
would be made to avoid embarrassment to a few in & outside unless, it
becomes necessary to bring out the essence in the narration.)

A Story in our own words Page 226


Episode 4

Rev Nil dated 11 Aug.2017

1.1First Foreign Exchange

It was sometime in the third quarter of 1967, when the Drumshop


construction & erection of machines were in progress so as to commence
production on the first order received from TNEB for Ennore Power Station.
We had the Japanese commissioning group for the erection of both the
furnaces – we were only 3 employees in Drum Shop viz: K Rama Rao (my
guruji.com!), Asst Supt, V Sundararajan, Asst Engineer and self, the GA!
Snakes were all over the place but the Japanese guys got their appetite
increased; they had wine in a bottle and they would chop the head of the
snake and insert the balance into the bottle. Soaking time 8 hours and Bottle
inside temperature was 30 to 35 Deg C. After this cycle, they would throw
the cut snake & drink feverishly the contents!! I was trained along with
Sundar as the Furnace Operators. Later when the operators used to apply
for leave at critical times, I shall sanction them the leave readily because of
the confidence gained – the workmen could never take you for a ride and
they used to withdraw their leave letters. This laid a foundation of a long
lasting relationship with workmen even during the strike periods!! At that
time, for the New Year RSK had designed a cartoon by himself with him as a
pregnant woman & with the caption of ”I am in a tearing hurry” who at any
time may deliver in order to send a message to hurry the readiness for the
delivery of the first order!

We got a message that RSK is bringing some foreigners to Drum Shop one
morning sometime before Deepavali – our Shop was always a show piece
and we too!! The team from Hindustan Photo Films Manufacturing Co., Ooty
came to see our Centre Lathe (~ Dia of 1.3 Meters) as GOI took the French
Collaborators (the company had seemed to have passed into Italain hands
later) to task as all the 12 Drums (precision machined) had got pitted due to
storage in the open and there had visited HEC, Ranchi & Badravathi in order
to study the capability of their large grinding machines to carry out the
repairs. BHEL, Tiruchi was the last to be checked out. They were looking for

A Story in our own words Page 227


grinding facility with an accuracy of +/-10 Microns requirement which even
our machine cannot be expected to provide Rama Rao –my Guruji. Com in
his quiet style proposed to the visiting team to send 1 Drum for our study &
trials along with the drawings. The Drum from Ooty landed the next day and
in the meanwhile, we had assembled a Turn Table from M & L Fabrication
Shop with Fire Bricks, Burners arranged for heating. First a Low carbon Steel
drum was fabricated and to arrive at dimensions for resulting in an
intereferance fit taking into account the Thermal expansion coefficient of the
Low Carbon Steel Drum. The Ooty Cast Iron Drum was fully machined to
remove the pitted surface. The Low Carbon Steel Drum (longitudinal joint)
was stress relieved at 600 –630 Deg C and later machined inside after
taking into account the shrink fitting requirements. Machined Ooty Drum was
inserted vertically after which it was cooled slowly (that was the key and
based on the experience of Rama Rao!). Then came the next tricky and
critical operation to machine the Shrunk Fit Drum (1200 mm Dia) in our
Centre Late; first cut was made in the normal way and later a Wooden Tool
was made and with Emery Papers of various grades (rough to fine) with me
standing in between the rotating Drum and the tool post and Sundararajan
being the machinist! We were measuring continuously and were able to
skillfully obtain a grinding accuracy of +/- 10 Microns!! After the job was
checked and the report was made by us, it was sprayed with a transparent
preservative and covered by Polythene sheet. The job was done in 2 days
and on the second day, we were waiting for the HPF team to be brought by
RSK from 1900 hrs and the team arrived at around 2100 hrs to see the
presented Drum along with the measurement report. RSK was a little high
after entertaining the visitors! He went and touched the bright surface of the
Drum with his fingers and exclaimed – It is better than a baby’s bum!!
Visitors expected only lathe machined accuracy but were given Drums with
grinding accuracy which saved 3 years in the start of HPF facility – it was
BHEL’s gift to HPF! RSK came and hugged all of us including our modest
(Guruji.com) Rama Rao who used to sport a typical Andhra Hitler
Moustache!!

1.2Commercial Discussions

Then, Visitors became Customers and commercial discussions commenced!


If payment is made in Foreign Exchange, it was cheaper than if paid in INR!
We thought it was a master stroke by RSK! Visitors had then disclosed that

A Story in our own words Page 228


it would have taken a minimum of 36 months with their plan of transporting
by sea to Italy and the HPF project already delayed would have gone down
the drain! Immediately.A schedule was drawn up to deliver the balance 11
drums and committed to HPF little forgetting Deepavali holidays in between.
We met our Guruji.com and proposed that we shall not delay the delivery on
the 4thDrum (interfered with Deepavali) received and we worked non-stop
for 5 days and completed our despatch schedule!! I had booked my sleeper
ticket to board the Trivandrum fast Passenger from Tiruverumber leaving at
1630 hrs via main line to reach Madras. A jeep booked on my private
account came to Drum Shop to drop me at Madras Egmore – on the 10th
minute on the upper sleeper berth I hit the sack to be woken up at the outer
yard of Madras Egmore by the railway cleaning crew the next day 2 hours
after reaching Madras! That was the spirit our Guruji.com along with RSK
instilled in us to never go back on the schedule of completion promised!!
In order to complete this story, one has to see the post events which
followed:

a. In order to raise the Invoice, one requires the FPISO. Inspection VGJ was
chasing us for the details of the process followed in order to raise the FPISO.
We had directed Inspection to obtain from RSK!! That was fun & frolic!

b. I do not remember as how this was procedurally resolved but gave the
Shop guys a plus 1 on their caps! And this we had maintained for all the
years in future!
After sometime, RSK came to the shop immediately on receiving the first
foreign exchange payment into BHEL on a completed work and gave us the
copy of the original Cheque proudly and shook our hands vigorously!! Such
gestures propelled us to contribute more and RSK was a great change agent
which every one had also experienced. Those who had this opportunity in a
relationship with RSK were really blessed!! The copy of the cheque can still
be seen in our Senior Conference Hall. A copy of the appreciation letter
signed by VK and received is attached as Annexure 1.

1.2Electroslag Welding

The process of joining vertical seams of the then 60 mm thick 13123


material was to be carried out by Electroslag welding which was is of Russian
Origin and is prevalent in all their satellite countries. The process is so

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unique and can weld any thickness even upto 600 mm thickness (ours was
with 3 wire). This is the second operation after hot bending & rolling at 1100
Deg C. The transversely rolled shells were welded vertically. At that time
when we were erecting the machinery in the shop, I was posted to Drum
Shop and with all types of trials, we were not able to commission this
machine. We had referred to all the possible personnel who had been for
training to CSSR to lend us a clue on the forbidden fruit! Only visits to library
increased and only 2 of us (Sundar & myself) became more involved in
commissioning this machine and if it were not, there were no other alternate
processes to overcome the problem. Drums would have not been made!!!
After we had spent quite a considerable time to decipher the missing link, I
had gone to Main Guard Gate on a Sunday to see movies and have tasty
Gujarati dinner in the narrow Chinna Kadai Sreet next to Plaza Moviehouse.
On the road leading to Holy Cross College in the platform, the Russian Book
Suppliers would exhibit a number of publications covering various subjects
and will cost varying from Rs. 1 to Rs. 3 only and one can bargain as well!
Suddenly while going through more than 100 and odd books, I saw a book
titled “Electric Slag Welding”! My heart jumped with joy and grabbed at it
before anyone may put their hands on it! That’s it – it was as if we had the
solution to our critical problem being faced!! I took a Taxi (I could afford it
as when others go to Tiruchi for 4 weekends & I would only go once and in
comfort!) and reached my quarter EA 465 opposite BHELEC independent
upstairs (RSK made a surprise visit with Uma & Rohini to this place on a
Sunday a’noon with lunch! That was PR! Later)quarters and started reading
sentence by sentence to find the possible cause on our inability to
commission the machine! I found the bug at around 3 am!! I felt that I was
on top of the world and got sent opportunity plus happening just in time!
First thing was to inform Sundararajan in the morning who was also equally
elated.

We prepared a note immediately and both of us rushed to meet RSK who


was leaving for Prague that day for meeting our collaborators. We brought
out the following points in that note and explained to RSK:

a. No response for any of our earlier letters to put the machine right not
becoming the responsibility of a collaborator

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b. If the machine which had been supplied with drooping characteristics
instead of Flat Characteristics is not rectified within a week. BHEL would go
ahead with a Swedish Electroslag Welding machine and debit their account
in foreign exchange along with damages caused for not supplying the
machine rightly!
Lo and behold, 2 men from Bratislava who had made the machine earlier
came and modified the windings in the 3 Nos of TS 1000 Transformers and
carried out 3 joints successfully even before RSK returned from his trip!!
Then I found out that I had gathered so much knowledge and the First Paper
on Electroslag Welding was presented at IIW Seminar to an audience of 500
Delegates – my first ever presentation of a Paper in Seminars (will touch
upon this later for highlighting another lesson I had learnt). Our PVK Achan
hugged me after the presentation which was appreciated by the audience
followed by a good discussion & I was touched. That became my another
diversification on Public Speaking!!

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Episode-5

Happened Episode out of many RK (WRI)

RK-BHEL Episode 5 Rev. Nil dated 17 Aug.2017

1.1 First Inter Departmental Tournaments

For the First Batch of GAs every happening event was equally first. RSK
being a good administrator chose also to develop a good working
relationship through organisation of Sports & Games. We 12 GAs were
distributed equally between Training Centre where we were attached to and
Administration. I believe that the final decision was left to RSK who decided
to pick by lots for the attachment! We were always wanted for whatever
tasks! I got attached to Big Boss’s Administration. Ayyappa was looking for
Bridge Players and I gave my name; Burly Krishnan (Expert Bridge Player
from NLC) was our coach. In the Semifinals, Ayyappa & myself reached
Semifinals; there was the last deal bid which was 2 Diamonds (opps were
vulnerable) & doubled by me; MKS was on the other side whose Partner was
Anthony Dorai! The deal was so tough and my head was splitting with
headache (sure for others too!) & finally we won by a single trick! But due to
Rubber Bridge format adopted, MKS’s team was declared as winners as the
part score was added to the opponents!There was one Rajan who was in
Personnel Department and he was ranked No. 1 in Tiruchi Tennis Circles and
he was partnering RSK; I do not know as why Rajan did not turn up for the
finals to play partnering with RSK; they were to play with PVK and partner
(partner was KGT’s would be son-in-law). RSK told the Tournament
Committee to scratch Rajan and get me to partner with RSK. That day came
– with so many spectators and I was no nervous to be playing next to RSK
that my service which used to be my best in the game did not even cross
the court!! RSK came and put his hands on my shoulders endearingly to pep
me up; alas, PVK’s team won! Finally I remember that we - Admin Group
emerged as the winners! This even brought the participants closer which
were the objective of RSK to provide a diversion from work and to build
team spirit!

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1.2Coal Tests in Bhilai for Ennore Project

One fine morning, we were informed that the next day all the 12 GAs are
scheduled to go to Bhilai Steel Plant where the Coal used by Ennore Thermal
Power Plant had to be tested and based which the Ennore Power Plant was
to be designed by VR Ramaprasad’s design team who were undergoing
special training in CSSR (Brno). All of us took permission from work to look
for the Dhobies to obtain the dresses! One First Class compartment was
booked for us & there were some who have never left anywhere outside
Tamilnadu and also were travelling in train for the first time!! Just before
the train left the station, there was a big explosive like noise going off from
the toilet! We rushed to see and to find one of our batch mates who was not
accustomed to using the rest room commode seemed to have sat on top of
it!! We had fun all the way and we were all put up at their Bhilai Guest
House and were to take reading at various points in the Power Station as per
the directions of V R Ramaprasad, Chief of Designs. We had met him for the
first time and some of us had more episodes with VRR later! VR
Subramanian, his younger brother also was dealing with the subject of
welding became a close Associate of WRI; I had met the 3rd brother
Dakshinamurthy last year – also involved in welding! RSK had planned to
expose us in various areas as part of training to gather knowledge and also
to exhibit us with the rest of the employees!

1.3Deputation to Indian Army

Little that we expected RSK to receive a communication that 2 of the GAs


have to be deputed for Army Service for a period of 2 years (we had thought
that such an undertaking by each one of us may not become realistic when
we had casually - but mandatory - signed at the time of entry into BHEL!).
RSK called all of us and said that he has to provide the names of 2 of us; he
was not happy to lose 2 of his blue eyed boys and openly threw the subject
of choosing methodology open to all of us. He asked for volunteers but none
opted to leave RSK & BHEL and the choice was left to him. He toyed with the
choice and then chose the oldest 2 of us would be sent to the Army Selection
Board at Madras – that was Chinnadorai & Jacob Dominic. They left promptly
and one day after 2 weeks or so, RSK received a letter from Army that Jacob
Dominic had never reported to the Board. RSK was so annoyed and called
Jacob to his room; Jacob informed that as he was suffering from knee pain

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and that it would be disadvantageous to him had he been selected to join!!
RSK asked him to get a medical certificate to that effect so he can still
satisfy the Army Board; Jacob went to Kerala and we heard that he had got
a medical certificate in Malayalam from an Ayurvedic Practitioner that he
was suffering from “Muddakku Vali”! RSK threw his hands very angrily and
put him under suspension from work with immediate effect. Later we came
to know that RSK as Project Administrator did not have the powers to
dismiss an employee on this count of indiscipline! One fine evening he met
me in the evening and with a sad face, he informed me in detail all that
happened and that he was leaving for good. He had requested me to keep
this guarded and that he may be leaving towards USA.

RSK then chose Ibrahim who was the next in the seniority list and sent his
name to Army Board. Lucky I was the next in the list!! One lives by chance!!
I was selected by SSB during my 3rd year of Engineering and I did not
choose to join due to my childhood days were spent without seeing my
parents for nearly 7 years; Dad was serving in WW II. I did not desire my
family later to have the similar experience – LRP with not a girl dated then in
1962!!

1.4 RSK

On one darkest day for India & BHEL, we heard that RSK passed away. He
had just then come back from on overseas trip to CSSR and he took that trip
against medical advice. He was known to be ailing by Asthma or similar
ailments. The previous day, RSK had called a Doctor from our Hospital to
meet him in his office to pose as if for a discussion and this was narrated to
me by the same Doctor on the day of RSK’s demise; Doc was not to inform
anyone and to bring the injections to his office. RSK, I believe before the
Doctor’s entry to his room had affixed a square paper in each of the 2 peep
windows in his room and RSK had then locked his room from inside to get a
jab from Doctor. Doctor had got another call in the early hours of the next
morning to rush to him at his house which he did, to administer the
medicine. Doctor was feeling so bad that immediately after a month or so,
he had resigned from BHEL and moved to Tiruchi to set up his own practice.
Much later when Uma Krishnan, Rohini & her husband stayed with us at
Tiruchi in our place, Uma mentioned that at the early hours of the morning,
RSK was on top of his voice was almost yelling & beckoned - “Uma. I am

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dying. Please rush.” RSK always works late hours in the ground floor and
used to sleep upstairs. By the time Uma had rushed down, RSK passed out I
believe in her hands. RSK was the First Person who I had seen after passing
away due to the intimate relationship with the great man! He was a legend
and he would continue to be in our memory for the great contribution he
made to us and so timely. When we had our Reunion of I Batch of G As, I
had remembered all the happenings with RSK when we had garlanded his
burst in BHEL along with VRD and all the other GAs. There are great men
but to be closer to feel the greatness, one must be very gifted. We GAs
were!

1.4Deputation to C S S R

I always desired to pursue my higher studies especially to specialise in the


subject of Metal Joining. I had obtained admission in the University of 17th
November in C S S R. I took the same and met VK who had then taken over
the Unit to seek study leave. Then he informed me that Management has
already decided to depute Ethiraj & myself for advanced training to CSSR
shortly and explained patiently the advantages of being deputed by BHEL
than going on study leave. It made sense and I took that opportunity. When
I had asked for the areas where I would be exposed to, VK mentioned that it
would be in the Drum Making Plant in Ostrava. I had requested VK whether
he could get me exposed in the Welding Reasearch Institute in Bratislava
after spending sometime in Ostrava on the new material that was being
discussed for 110 mW boiler drum. He said that it can be managed as
special permission is required for any foreigner into the National Welding
Research Institute. That happened in Jan. 1969.

What I am going to tell you may be totally new and one’s eye brows may go
up voluntary!! Our Kannan came to me on an evening with secretive
moments which we were always accustomed to and informed me that I
would be shocked to hear! We closed the door and put up a DO NOT
DISTURB board outside EA465 where I was staying with a cook for myself
(luxurious life!). Kannan had accompanied his village mate to a Nadi Sashtra
guy on the banks of river Kaveri in Srirangam that morning. And before he
was called, the old man with a white beard was reading the predictions of an
elderly couple and during the reading, the writing on the palm leaf read that
the gentleman had not sired one of his children!! The man was humiliated

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and took the Bearded man to task while the lady was trying to pacify her
husband!! It was later found that the hubby was away in Malaysia counting
the gold coins during that episode! Hubby calmed down!! That was a shock
to me but opened another leaf in my journey! Both of us went on next
Sunday and we were the first to in the queue to be seen by the old man. My
Nadi Palm Page was located (we had decided that we would not divulge any
info expecting to nod our heads one way or the other & to ensure that our
earnings were not thrown away and at the same time not to lose the
opportunity of not experiencing the science on which Dr B V Raman had
written a lot in his Astrological Magazine). The Nadi – Rishi while reading the
first stanza in the Palm Leaf seems to ask his disciple the date when I would
know the readings in the leaf; reply was “ it would be eight ( 2 x 4) days
before my 28th (7 x 4) birthday”. The date was exact!!! Then in the next
stanza, it said that I would be going overseas as soon Saturn moves into the
next house and that Saturn has been the cause of delays/happenings in my
life. At that time, may discussions with VK did not take place about my trip
to C S S R!! I left for C S S R exactly on 7 Apr.’69 when Saturn moved into
the next house in my horoscope!! What did that indicate to me then and had
a great impact for good in my life!! More on Nadi Sashtra later in another
episode when I had spoken about it in one of the 2 Training Sessions I had
taken part in BHEL in my entire career – One on “Rapid Reading & Public
Speaking” by Prof Athreya Bombay & another on “Value Engineering” by
Indian Statistical Institute, Madras. The teachings I had absorbed from these
2 Training Sessions benefited BHEL and me extensively (official &
personally)!! Can one believe - even now!! (For Private Circulation only;
Attempts would be made to avoid embarrassment to a few in & outside
unless, it becomes necessary to bring out the essence in the narration.)

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Episode-6

Happened Episode 1 out of many RK (WRI)

RK-BHEL Episode 6 Rev. Nil dated 21 Aug.2017

1.1Trip to C S S R for Advanced Training

One fine day in the beginning of Dec. ’68 after my Nadi Guy who read my
palm pages in Sapta Rishi Jyothisha Nilayam in Sri Rangam, I had a call
from V K’s office to say that I have to pack my bags and go to C S S R along
with Ethiraj (M & L Fabrication) for advanced training. Though I was sad that
I had no way to pursue my PG studies and what VK advised me made a lot
of sense like

a. Had I gone on study leave, no pay & allowances; loss of seniority; no


increment et cetera

b. All expenses to & fro for a period of 2 + years to be funded by me right


from my departure from BHEL and so on.

C. Most valid point he said was that the additional qualification would not be
reckoned for my promotion.
This considered advice from the Big Boss made a lot of sense as I had never
thought I may leave one day until I become as much I was qualified to claim
the BHEL stairs!!

1.2

I had a detailed letter which was received by me in an envelope from my


Dad and I sensed something amiss. Yes, it was true – my mother was not
keeping well and Dad requested my presence at Chennai to take her to the
right specialists. For the first time, I took leave for 7 days to attend my Mom
who was so dear to me. She was diagnosed with an enlarged heart which I
saw myself in the fluoroscopy screen. Consulted Dr Ramamurthy who was
the top most Cardiac Specialist in Madras and our own family Doc Dr
Chinnaswamy who prescribed the appropriate medicines and wanted her in
100 % rest with no stresses whatsoever. He said that she may survive upto

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75 or may just vanish from this abode tomorrow! Organised the home place
with the then introduced Gas Stove, Pressure Cooker et cetera; no work
whatsoever by my Mom – Dad & my sisters to rotate themselves. I did not
know whether I did the right thing – I had not disclosed the true picture as I
thought all my family members – Dad, my 2 younger Sisters & my younger
brother may be dying every day. I had wished at that time whether I could
send my cook (only GA who had a cook for himself staying with me in a fully
furnished house excepting for my life mate!) to Madras to take care of my
home. My cook had come from Kerala and was working as an unskilled
worker with an objective of retiring in a Type IV home when he retires! My
GA Mate by then had been posted in Madras as Capt. Chinnadurai and he
helped me timely in the purchase of all the gadgets I wanted for my home! I
was glad that the systems were set in place and in Feb.’69 or so, I had a call
from G M’s office to say that I shall leave for C S S R and I was travelling
with Ethiraj in a White Wrappered Passport as at that time PSU was
considered as part of GOI! I was given a warm send off by my family,
friends to leave by IA flight to Bombay and then via AI to Prague. That day
was 7 Apr.’69 which was the day when Saturn moved into the next house as
was read from the Palm Nadi Leaves by the Yoghi!! On 29 Apr., my Mom
chose to leave this abode; was reading my letter written to her, laughed to
glory, never suffered and passed away in sleep. My Dad being an Army man
chose not to send a telegram and sent only an ordinary letter. If a telegram
may have come, I may have reached Madras assuming Mum waited to see
me and I was not sure about my future of training and its after effects in a
PSU even if good hearts who were in BHEL may have found an amicable
solution. I thanked Dad for being practical as otherwise, my career may
have been affected (Mom passed away just 3 weeks after I saw her.).

1.3 Before I left for CSSR, major events took place and they were:

1.3.1Steam Sampling Stub: Based on the Czechoslovak procedure, one


does not get to know all the sequences going into the final product and one
such was the Steam Sampling Stub which consisted of the drum material
CSN 13123 followed by 15Mo3 plus 10CrMo910 & finally a 18/8 material.
Nowhere had we found the consumable recommended for this steam
sampling nozzle and then we remembered that the Chief Welding
Technologist was given the responsibility to list all the material combinations
in the entire Boiler and to carry out a procedure test to arrive at the

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recommended welding procedure. So we went to consult the Chief and we
were informed that 18/8 material is the recommended welding consumable
for joining 10CrMo910 to 18/8. From our knowledge based on welding
metallurgy, I knew that if that recommendation was followed, it may have
entailed closing down the Tiruchi Unit!! In order to double check and since it
is an issue of great importance to our unit, I spent more than 2 hours in our
library and I had correctly stumbled upon an article in “Welding Engineer”
magazine published from USA. It matched with my analysis and the right
consumable is a 25/20 material if the part is operating under static
conditions or higher like Inconel (when cyclic loads were involved) to be
safer!! Since that was the last operation to be performed in the Drum before
Hydro Test, we had no time to import the material which would delay the
shipment, I had spoken to our Czeck Consultant to call Ostrav in CSSR and
send us about 10 rods citing it as “sample for approval”; it came but before
that I had to take care of myself in putting to use a material not
recommended by the Chief! I mustered all my courage as A E / Drum Shop
and I mentioned to him that there are bright chances that we may witness
cracks visually or dormant, if we use 18/8 material! Hell burst all over and
he asked me whether I was challenging him; indeed, I was and had to be
humble as I was armed with knowledge!! He asked me to get the samples
ready and he asked me to commence welding; I was super cautious as my
future can be affected, if proved wrong. Chief was a very experienced
Technologist and had the innate ability to twist the issue! Instead, requested
him to choose the best welder of his choice – he chose the best welder
Venkatarama Raju, our High Pressure Welder. Requested Chief to brief and
instruct V Raju; Lo & Behold, the crack was following the weld bead as the
resultant structure was Martensitic! My first reaction was that BHEL’s name
was taken care off and was proud in proving a point of great importance and
at the same time, I was concerned that the Chief may have found ways to
arrest my career. Luckily, there were a few responsible persons who were
present at the time of welding – like Welding Vicchhu and Sundararajan, my
immediate boss in the shop! This somehow had reached the years of Big
Boss and I was saved. We had received the right welding consumable from
CSSR with a smooth sail through customs and the 2 joints were carried out
easily. This was the first instance that I learnt - one should be technically
strong and thus can safe guard the company’s interests! Also, one had to
find the root cause of any issue before deciding to move forward. Then my
interest to specialise in Metal Joining became more stronger after this

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incident. This had leaked through to the big boss who had called me and my
Boss Sundararajan to ascertain the fact and not to take decisions on a hear-
say basis. That was a sign of good management! Major lesson I learnt then
was – one day when I become a big boss, how not to be like my previous
Boss!! More I knew on a subject related to our responsibility, it should be
your duty to disseminate to colleagues and this helped me in my growth
within the company!

1.3.2 It was around this time that Sundararajan whose better half was
hailing from Delhi has indicated to VK that he would like to move to Delhi
and he was transferred to Badarpur Power Station. That was a great loss for
me to lose great friends – Sundar & Malu, his wife who used to take care of
me not only in Tiruchi but also later in Greater Kailash where he was in-
charge of the Guest House Management. When I was in the GH, I had to
take care of the GH management & Malu would take care of my papat!! I did
it well (GH Management) – I started travelling from that time! One day,
there was a grid block and there was a blackout in 3 States! I was acting as
Telephone Operator when Chairman of E B and Minister were calling GH to
find out the actions taken. I had informed them that we are taking all steps
to restore power asap as this was due to instability - overdrawal of power
from on state, while at the same time trying frantically to contact Sundar!
Sundar complemented me later that I had handled the calls well so
courteously as per the feedback he had received!! This was the period that I
had got exposed to NTS who was GM/Fin in Tiruchi and followed SVS to
Delhi. NTS was a great man and we had a great time on the Sundays I used
to be in Delhi in between my business trips!

1.3.3 Before I made a trip to care for my Mom, I had written a Technical
Paper on the first electroslag weded boiler drum (all the 4 joints were welded
by me along with the CSSR trained supervisor and the Operator being
trained) and I had left the same with Sundar to peruse through so after I
return from Madras, I shall process the required approvals and transmit the
same to British Welding Journal. I cautioned him very strongly that this
paper draft must be kept under lock and should never go to the Chief! Chief
had innumerable techniques and before I came back, he had somehow laid
his hands on the paper and despatched the same to UK – British Welding
Journal!! How nice one takes care of the interests of colleagues with no
conscience whatsoever!! I check with the Chief’s Secretary and he gave me

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a copy of the article sent to the Journal; 42.3 Kg/mm2 was changed to
42.25 Kg/mm2 as he had no clue as to the impact, if it were revised to 42.4
Kg/mm2!! The texts were not revised and only the numbers underwent
changes!! This was a major lesson learnt by me – I had never put in my
name as an author, if I had no contribution in the paper and even otherwise
as everyone will know as the Head / WRI has put his name with nil
contribution!!

1.3.4 At this point of time, my Guruji.com – Rama Rao went back to KCP as
they had called for his services. Who would not!! I had almost followed him
and did not show any interest!! Though I may have acquired knowledge in
KCP, no one can match the reservoir of knowledge in BHEL.(For Private
Circulation only; Attempts would be made to avoid embarrassment to a few
in & outside unless, it becomes necessary to bring out the essence in the
narration.)

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Episode-7

Happened Episode 1 out of many RK (WRI) RK – BHEL Episode 7 Rev


Nil dated 2nd.Sep.2017

1.1 BOILER DRUMS & PRESSURE VESSELS When we commenced the shop
activities with the able knowledge gained by the Executives and Supervisors
who had returned from CSSR – Narayana Pillai(Headers), M P
Mani(Submerged Arc Welding), Fernandez(Hot Rolling & Drilling) & Joseph
(Electroslag Welding), it took off well. Prior to the arrival of the Drum Plates,
Commercial Department obtained an order for Cement Klins which had
Rivetting work with High Tensile Material of dia 28 mm or so; there was no
expertise available when we started but soon we picked up the special
process points to be followed and it was a good beginning helping us in
building a team and to obtain an income for BHEL from Drum Shop. We had
a good team in Production Planning – Umesh Rao and later A Subramanian
(Drum Designs), S Ranganathan (Waterwalls); A Subramanian & S
Ranganathan were my School Mates and it was fun working freely with
them. When Chandramouli (RSK’s son) came to RSK on his demise, I found
that he was also my Ramakrishna Mission Classmate. We had Hindi as an
optional subject and Ranga having been trained in Hindi Prachar Sabha was
the topper always. I used to be sitting next to him during final Hindi
Examination with myself scoring 99% and him 1 less!! You know how!! 1.1
MEMORABLE STAY IN OSTRAVA, BRNO & BRATISLAVA Ethiraj & self reached
Prague on the early hours of 7 Apr.’69 with the long woollen coat borrowed
from Welding Vicchu (the coat had a history of its own!) and the
temperature was – 4 Deg C!! There were 2 representatives from INPRO,
CSSR who were coordinating our training program met us and took us to
their office; they reps had managed to obtain the big long sedan, the
Russian “DACHA” to take us to Ostarva which was around 400 Kms.. We
were dropped at our Hostel at around 6 in the evening and they were to
meet us the next day morning at 0600 hrs. Before we left Tiruchirapalli, I
had borrowed a Chech-English Language Book & a mini EnglishCzech-English
Dictionary. I knew at least 6 or 7 words having moved with 2 CSSR
Consultants in Tiruchi and it was more than the Czech knowledge of Ethiraj.
Though he was senior to me but I had exchanged his seniority with my
superiority in the lingo!! It was dinner time and there was a place close to
our Hostel; we went in and asked for the menu using the sign language in

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order to look for Chicken as there were no vegetarian food available (we
knew that); I was frantically looking for the Chech word in the Dictionary
being kept below the table so Ethiraj may not come to know my first failure!!
But without exhibiting my capability to Ethiraj (!), I had ordered 2 nos
pointing to one of the menu items with no knowledge of what I had ordered!
The food came – no salt, no spices and it was flat and we had to force the
food down our throats for survival! The moment the food went inside, I
could guess that it must be Beef and after we finished the food, I had asked
Ethiraj out of courtesy as how the food was – he said though the meat was
tough, the chicken was good!! I was not sure whether to tell him the truth or
not; I had decided to spill the beans to Ethiraj and then hell broke loose!! He
said that this is the last time that he will ever go out with me to take food
and that he had decided to cook; he was kind enough to invite me to join
him and I said thank you! I chose the time required for purchase, cooking
and washing to be spent on learning the lingo; we had been provided
thoughtfully by VK a Lady Intrepreter without which one could not have
absorbed any knowledge. 1.2 ENTERS LUCKILY MY LINGO GURUJI.COM On
the third day, we were standing in the Tram Station at 0530 hrs when a big
made local was menacingly advanced towards me; I had tried to take shelter
but he caught me and said: “I teach Chech & you teach English”! It was a
God sent opportunity and our lessons commenced on the same day – Mon to
Fri 1430 hrs to 1730 hrs.. The deal was I cannot talk in English and
Frantishek in Chech!! You would not believe how the teaching formula was
working: Learn as many words as possible – forget about grammar and start
using those words; in 2 weeks I had learnt about 70 & odd words which
when used in talking to the staff in the factory, one has to pick up the
corrected sentences coming from them !! In a month, I was able to save
myself from drowning in CSSR! Chechs in the factory could not believe that I
was able to manage in such a short duration and they were exclaiming that
Kris is clever!! This capability acquired helped me in my further stay and
acquisition of knowledge!! During every weekend, Frantishek & myself used
to travel to few places closeby in order to see the places as well learn the
culture plus more importantly practice conversation. Once we visited to see
“Mezinarodny Folkloristicky Festival” (International Folklore Festival) and the
Rumanian Gypsy Group who were known to be good in playing violin
approached me for buying Beer for them. I had got a can each of the best
Beer (Pilzener – the basic beer from Plzen and is used to be prescribed as a
medicine for those who had kidney stones!) to each of 32 Violinists. Then

A Story in our own words Page 243


they consulted with each other and assembled in front of my friend and
myself to play a full composition! I was touched and I also had matching
teardrops! In one month, I was able to express myself in Chech and also
visit the library to assimilate welding literature! I had picked up friendship
with Miroslov Vadhik who was our neighbour in the hostel and he used to
play guitar for me during weekends. I was invited to attend his wedding in a
village during a weekend as the best man – ‘suited & booted’ and his sister
Eva Vadikova was my mate during the wedding! We were dancing to glory
until the wee hours on Saturday! We became family friends and my lingo
knowledge helped me. Even now, I am in touch with Miroslav & Eva. Eva
took us around Bratislava when I had taken Chithra to show her all the
places I had spent in Bratislava and VUZ Group gave us a grand lunch at the
Institute – by Jan Skriniar, Josek Vrbensky, & Ladilav Muncner. Most of them
were in WRI as short term UNIDO Experts & Chithra was their host. (One
day when I was in the Drum Shop, the messenger attached to VK handed
over a sealed cover which had instructions –“to be delivered only to RK”!
When I opened the outer envelope, the inner cover which seemed to have
been opened had just the following address –“R Krishnamurthi. BHEL,
India”!! This was delivered to our Delhi office by our Post Office(!) and was
redirected to Tiruchirapalli to VK. VK had opened the cover and it was an
excellent New Year Greeting Card with words written by hand – “With Love”
& signed Evichku!! This he remembered and mentioned in a meeting few
years later at our Badarpur Guest House, Delhi to brief VK, SVS & VRD after
my attendance at a meeting in RDSO, Lucknow convened by NCST, GOI on
the presentation made by me on WRI; VK said that RK had a very beautiful
girl friend and VK met her somewhere in CSSR and she enquired about me!!
She was the one who had sent that New Year card to RK!! SVS & VRD were
enjoying to themselves after hearing the other side of RK! ) We had made
friends with Dr Das/Kolkata, a visiting Professor from India & Mr Jain/ a
student studying Mining. Every week, we used to collect provisions & food
and meet in Jain’s hostel room for joint cooking on Sundays. Beer was used
to be smuggled inside the hostel using the spherical light shade to go with
the Indian food which was the major interest in life on every Sunday! It was
a practice to invite a Foreigner by any one of us for this Sunday Lunch who
was supposed to relish our spicy food with tears pouring down to be
submerged by the Beer kept at the centre of the table!! 1.3 Fortnightly
Reports to BHEL, Tiruchirapalli Before we left to CSSR for advanced training,
we were briefed to send a report addressed to GM and sent to VRD who

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would study the report and send to VK. Before leaving for Ostrava Plant
which specialised in Drums & Pressure Vessels, I had requested VK to
arrange for a total exposure in the well known VUZ (National Welding
Research Institute) located in Bratislava in Slovakian region. VK using
BHEL’s excellent rapport with his counterparts had obtained an entry into
VUZ which was a closely guarded institution where even personnel from the
East European Countries were not permitted! I had got a call from INPRO,
the Agency in Prague that I have to close shop in Ostrava in the next month
and that the INPRO representative would go over to Bratislava with me to
introduce me to VUZ. That was the best thing that had happened to me in
particular and got managed so well by VK as was promised by him. One can
say that the first seed for the WRI in India happened then!! There was a
major job to be completed before I move to Bratislava and it was to study
the report made on the material proposed by CSSR for our 110 mW. As per
the contract, CSN 13123 material is for 60 mW drums and CSSR was to
recommend the Drum Material to be used for 110mW drums. This report
was kept confidential and due to good rapport with my counterparts, I had
access to the complete report. The material proposed by CSSR was 16GnM
material and it was found that this material requires quenching treatment in
order to obtain the properties; we had no quenching facilities in Drum Shop!!
After getting to the report, I had reported to VK via VRD that we should not
accept the material 16 GnM and we may have to consider another suitable
material which shall possibly have higher alloying elements so as to deliver
the mechanical properties required just with air cooling! RK (For Private
Circulation only; Attempts would be made to avoid embarrassment to a few
in & outside unless, it becomes necessary to bring out the essence in the
narration.)

A Story in our own words Page 245


Section -6
Gopinath Looks Back

A Story in our own words Page 246


1. Prologue
According to the latest neuro-scientific reports, a normal non-autistic human
brain organizes everything into stories and that is how we understand the
meaning and context of everything aroundus.I’ve tried to recount my BHEL
experiences during the 37 years of my service, through stories and
anecdotes of people who have contributed to BHEL`s growth.
For me,it was a captivating historic journey down memory lane, rubbing
shoulders with thousands of BHEL employees and their leaders. Many of
them are not there now, and at the outset I would like to pay my humble
homage to their contribution to make BHEL what it is today.

2. Destiny – Destination.
A chance meeting with one of my school mates, [who happened to be M.M Y.
B’s brother] determined the course of my professional career. Y.B, then
working in BHEL Trichy, had told his brother stories of the great leadership
qualities of R.S. Krishnan, the then project administrator. Though I had
several job-offers on hand, after hearing these stories, I developed a keen
desire to work in BHEL under R.S. Krishnan. I applied to BHEL for ET
position. My dream came true. I got selected and joined the great
Organisation. The rest is history.

3. R.S.K -A Legend in His Lifetime


There were numerous anecdotes and stories about the qualities of RSK`s
head and heart, his humane approach, his dynamism and abhorrence for
bureaucratic delays, trivial financial obstacles and red tapes. These
attributes appealed to young minds like mine.
When, as a batch, we met RSK, he said that he was “throwing”us with the
stuff, and it was up to us to pick up.

3.1 Duty with concern


Valves supplied by Trichy to Grasim Nagda in 1966 were not approved by
the M.P. Boiler Inspectorate. The inauguration of the project was only a
short time ahead. RSK requested HRS Rao to proceed to Nagda to sort out
the issue. HRS Rao`s wife was hospitalised at that time. In view of the
urgency and seriousness of the problem, HRS Rao had to go. Rao was
mighty relieved and happy when RSK telephoned to him regularly to give

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information of Rao`s wife was progress. Later RSK, accompanied by his wife
Uma Krishnan called on Rao and his wife in their house.

4. First ever executive dissent


The last lap of ourtraining was in Engineering. Many of the Czech design
documents were not easilyavailable tous and some of us felt frustrated. So,
when it was suggested that we were to be posted to Engineering en-
masse,we wanted to express our concern.So far, our training period was like
an extension of our college days and meeting the chief to explain our
grievance did not seem to be a defiant act. RSK was furious when some of
us met him, but he gave a patient hearing. When the final placement results
were announced, we were given changes as we wanted, thanks to the
magnanimity of RSK.

5. End of an ERA and the beginning of a new one


RSK surrounded himself with the best of talents in the country and many of
the stalwarts who served under him later rose to become EDs, Directors,
CMDs– both inside and outside BHEL. He had left an indelible impression on
every facet of BHEL, and no wonder, everyone in BHEL felt orphaned when
he died in harness.

5.1 Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man


In the midst of the numbing shock of the untimely demise of RSK, nobody
realised that a brilliant Technocrat had arrived at the helm of affairs of BHEL
Trichy, -Someone who would take not only BHEL Trichy, but the entire BHEL
that he would create to commanding heights; Someone who would
modernise the Indian Auto Industry as had been done never before;
Someone who would shake SAIL from its very foundations and take it to
leadership position. Came the hour, came Padma Vibhushan Dr. V.
Krishnamurthy.

6. My M&S Days
I was posted to the Maintenance area and had the privilege of working with
M/s V.K.V. Menon. M.R. Naidu, M.A. Kesavan, Krishna Rao,Uthamarajan,
Ramadoss and TCP. I was involved in the erection, maintenance and upkeep
of production assets, and I enjoyed my job.

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6.1 Grease Monkeys in Grubby Routine:
Despite the fact that Maintenance personnel were crucial for machines and
facilities from womb to the tomb, and had good knowledge of machines and
associated processes, they were seen only as grease monkeys, remembered
to be rebuked for failures. Young managers considered Maintenance as a
gateway to a grubby routine – out of sight and out of mind of the Top
Management. They were on the wrong end of Lbw and Off- side decisions all
the time.

6.2 If You can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.


I felt,a key paradigm change was necessary whereby maintenance guys
would volunteer themselves to be involved more closely in Production,
Productivity improvement, Engineering and Enforcement measures for
Safety, Establishing process parameters for auto and semi-auto processes,
Efficient material handling, Project expansion and R&D efforts.
This as the theme, I had presented a paper in one of the IIPE seminars at
Hyderabad. Mr. MR Naidu who was then the ED of Hyderabad, appreciated
the theme of my paper. I was all the time advocating this new approach to
my colleagues.
Hundreds of useful projects have been done by maintenance folks.
Unfortunately, we did not record these success stories for posterity. I shall
try to recall a few of these.

6.3 A brief on the contribution by M&S


One of the earliest contributions was by MA Kesavan who modified the VI
characteristics of the power sources to match the arc characteristics of
electro-slag welding. Sri G Venkataraman changed the grease lubrication
system of four-roll plate bending machine to oil lubrication. Allaudeen
successfully modified the pulsed arc controls of STBs. Krishna Rao was as
closely associated with Fan ImpellerBalancing. So was Kunchithpatham` with
Incremental bending. Krishna Rao, M.K. Baba and Kandasamy made Temple
cars in Tamilnadu run again. Manickam was a `gem` of a Material Handling
engineer. Along with Muruganandam he relocated massive cranes as
required for production. Transport Dept did bullet proofing of Jeeps with
armoured plates for defence. Neelakantan introduced low thermal mass
insulation in all the major furnaces. M.P. Venkateswaran and Nagabhushana
manufactured, erected and commissioned Gasifier for CCDP. After the Gas
and Steam Turbines and waste heat Boilers were ready, they tested the

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CCDP system to produce power. J.Sankaran synchronised the CCDP power
to E.B. ARV testing kit was developed by Andrew. Up-gradation of electric,
and electronic controls, NC CNC Retrofits. conversion from analogue to
digital controls, Standardisation of control elements were carried out in
scores of machines, including large machines like 8000 T Press by J.
Sankaran, Venkatasalapathy and Sekaran and many others. Ashokan and
Achuthan made significant Improvements in Hydraulic controls. Welding
guns,nozzles, chill bars and inductors for various machines were developed
by Parameswaran and Kunchithpatham.Major repairs were carried out in
2000&8000 presses and Wohlenberg machining centre. Down time and
costs were well under control, the least among the Units. .Preventive
maintenance was systematically carried out. K. Ramadoss streamlined
system of spares and consumables. TGK took care of instrumentation.
Sriramulu, Venkatachalam, Kunchithapatham and Padmanabhan Nair
Chandran, Sankaran Kutty, Abdullah, Rajarathnam, Sathyasai, Nivedhan,
Quadir and Jabbar had an uncanny ability to diagnose problems speedily and
rectify the same.
For a plant with several stages of expansion and layout changes, the
herculean task of relocation ofmachines and cranes was done without
affecting production. This was a feather in the cap of M&S indeed.

6.4 Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way


A CNC gun drilling machine in Building 79 was badly damaged because of
the fall of concrete roof slabs. Normally, such a damaged machine would be
considered unsuitable for nuclear production and condemned. There was no
other deep hole drilling facility in the Organisation. A new machine would
cost crores and would take at least 20 months to procure, install and
commission. We decided to take up the challenge to resurrect the machine.
MKS supported our decision. With the help of an engineer from the supplier,
Sri Parameswaran Kutty and Co. did an incredible job of restoring the
machine to its original accuracy. The machine was re-commissioned and
since then has done thousands of shifts.

6.5 Traffic Stopper in Mount Road, Chennai


The 8000-tonne press is the largest piece of equipment in Trichy. It’s
massive upper tool is about 15 meters long and 6 meters high and 180
tonnes in weight. When this was being transported from the Chennai
Harbour to Trichy, the vehicle carrying it capsized near the Munroe statue in

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Mount Road and totally blocked the traffic. People had to work round the
clock to reload the consignment and clear the traffic. After this episode,
moving across the Kaveri bridge in Trichy was avoided and the consignment
was re-routed via Karur and Dindigul. When it reached Trichy, we heaved a
sigh of relief.

6.6 ‘Power”ful MKSridhar


Once, unlike in the previous years, BHEL Trichy was not given relief by TN
Govt from a 100% power cut in Tamilnadu. Planned lockouts or some such
drastic measures loomed large. It was then that. KS’s influence with the AP
EB Chairman – Sri.Tata Rao was of invaluable.AP EB Chairman approved the
withdrawal of power from the Andhra grid for use by BHEL and we were
saved from a disastrous situation.

6.7 Temple Cars- BHEL`S Offering to Gods


Many TamilnaduTemples could not run their Temple cars for decades
because the wooden wheels and axials had got damaged. Sri VS Thyagaraja
Mudaliar from Tiruvaroor approached BHEL to help them to repair the largest
temple car – Azhither. Krishna Rao, MK Baba and Kandasamy took up the
challenge and changed wooden wheels and axials to steel wheels and axials
and added a hydraulic braking mechanism to ensure safety. After successful
trial run, the Azhither in all its splendour and glory went around the streets
of Tiruvaroor. This was a forerunner to giving similar service to many other
temples.

7. FB – Commercial
7.1 VRD`S Customer Care
BHEL was a monopoly to start with. The Govt and the political climate were
in our favour. Even then, VRD believed in Mahatma`s philosophy that
Customer was the most important person in our midst. To be paranoid
about the customer’s requirements was his religion. The distillation of his
wisdom and thinking gave a great start to the Commercial department. His
conviction was carried forward by the likes of M.K. Dutta,NKB, S. Bala and
A.N. Jagadeeswaran
I remember, in one of the executive meetings, VRD spoke high of the efforts
of P Ramakrishnan and S Guruswamy for traveling in some small-town lorry
transport just to meet customer requirements

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7.2 Review of Reviews
I wanted a new way of conducting ED’s monthly review. I wanted a three-
tier review, the first between MM, Engineering, OP&C and Commercial, the
second by the Product manager before the final review by ED. Chari was to
be present in all the meetings and inform me of the highlights. Only the
exception points came to ED’s review. I insisted that only the contract
managers should make presentationon their Contracts. This improved the
overall situation. Cash Collection was one aspect I religiously reviewed.
“Cash in” mustexceed “Cash Out” was the guiding principle. This was borne
out of the conviction was that sequential dispatch, erectability and DU
completion, which were customers`priority requirements could generate
cash and also take care of Tonnage and Turnover.

7.3 Chary - A CEO’s “Man Friday”


Talking about Krishnamachary, He was agreat support in contract matters,
fixing monthly targetsand “Annual Budget” making. He was meticulous,
well-informed and had the wherewithal to speak to all concerned. He is no
more. Miss him – RIP. He was well supported by C Murthy, now ED in
corporate office.

7.4 Peerless PEARS


MRG suggested merging commercial and project management for better
functional excellence. I agreed to this. He was also the author of the Project
Enquiryand Review System (PEARS) which was a versatile online review
system.

7.5 Minister’s Gesture


Along with PLR, Dr. VGK and MR Ganesan, I met the Hon. Minister for
Energy a number of times when he used to visit his constituency -Trichy to
explain our concern on Talcher mega-order which seemed to be slipping out
of BHEL’s grasp. We requested the minister to help BHEL. He gave us a very
patient hearing. During the meetings the minister raised the topic of making
the LCS staff permanent. We explained to him that we were helpless
because of ramifications involved, not only in Trichy but also in others units,
as well as other PSUs. We could see that he was not totally satisfied with our
explanation.But, thanks to the large-heartedness of the great man, Talcher
order of four boilers was ours and it was indeed a boon for BHEL, starving
for orders.

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7.6 Communication & Public Relations
Whether CPR should be under Commercial used to be an issue for regular
debates. A Photographic Exhibition was organised by CPR. Despite the non-
availability of some important photographs, the Exhibition was a success
attended by thousands. Professionals recruited to CPRF were found to be
competent and helped to bring out calendars on themes like Temples and
Treesin Tamilnadu.

8. FB - Engineering
8.1 Slip between Cup and the Lip
The writing on the wall was clear. Only super-critical boilers were going to be
the order of the day. This was discussed in the management committee
meeting and approval was obtained for collaboration with Babcock Borsig in
West Germany for super-critical boilers.
Good number of Engineers from Trichy were sent for training as per the
collaboration agreement. It was then that an unfortunate development took
place. Babcock Borsig was in financial trouble and was taken over by a US
firm. Our collaboration came to an abrupt end. We were shell-shocked. The
only saving grace was that our trained engineers now had the expertise in
engineering super-critical boilers. It took several years to acquire the
mandatory technological support for bidding for super-critical boilers in
India. Otherwise we would Have taken a crucial lead in the super critical
market years back.

8.2 Youth power to the fore


Dr. Vasudevan as the head of Engineering, called MRG, Venkatesan and
Ponnusamy, new ETs in the Department and gave them the task of
developing the Performance Design of a 500 mega-watt boiler. Inspired by
the confidence reposed in them, these youngsters did a splendid job. In fact,
they could add some additional noteworthy features to the CE design which
was appreciated even by the Collaborators.

8.3 A. Subramanian’s Bi-Drum Boiler design


There was a need to develop indigenous Bi-Drum boiler design for MFL as
Czech collaboration did not coverBi-Drum Boilers. A Subramanium assisted
by N. Natarajan took up the challenge and developed a unique design. Tube
to tube-sheet expansion was successfully carried out for the first time.

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During operation, the bank tubes connecting the two drums were able to
withstand the vibrations and there was no need for apermanent support for
the bottom drum.

8.4 Product Committee - A Great Idea


Product Committees made the concept of Product Manager a success.
Members could discuss all aspects of the product from concept to
completion, facilities required, quality levels, sequential dispatch, erection
and commission were some of the holistic technical and management issues
discussed in the Committee meetings.

9. FB - Materials
9.1 MKS`s “Walk the Task”
MKS had an unconventional way of addressing the non and slow-moving
inventory problems. He would ask the concerned executives to accompany
him for a visit to various Stores and scrap yards to physically examine the
materials lying there and find use for the same. That such a Senior person
was prepared to walk miles showing so much concern for material wastage
made people share his concern and take positive action.

9.2 War on Waste


War on wastage was the theme during one month which prompted Dr.V.G.K,
and Madhavan of Engg to affect a 2% reduction in the Boiler Structurals.
Shops reused cut bits of tubes as header stubs.

9.3 MNA becomes ENA


In Production review meetings, MNA (Material Not Available) used to be a
regular excuse for non-completion. Over the years, strong action and a
holisticapproach by K.Ramakrishnan, P.I. Sudhir, Umesh Rao,
Ramachandran, et al,MNA was slowly getting replaced by ENA [Excuse not
available]. Commercial, MM and OP&C started looking at possible
bottlenecks even at the pre-contract stage of firm orders.

9.4 IT Helps Transparencyin Sub-Contracting


Transparent operation through PC terminals with sub-contractors gave
synergic benefit and was appreciated by Corporate Vigilance. Sub-

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Contractors were provided support to install state of the art facilities for Shot
Blasting, Galvanising, Flux Core Arc welding and Material Handling.
9.5 Restructuring MM
Dr. VGK took a major decision to cover all functions of material like material
planning, purchase and stores under one head for a specific type of material
which ensured better material usage and availability.

9.6 Reverse Auction- Forward Action


Reverse Auction was for the first time in BHEL was done for the disposal of
Condemned Machines which fetched attractive prices.
Reverse Auction for regular materials was established when Chandrababu
was MM Chief. Indian and International Vendors participated. Substantial
savings made.
Chandrababu also developed “Away Work Centres” with Suppliers materials
during AKMs time reducing working capital requirements and increasing
Trichy`s Capacity to 4 Lakh Tons.
All these measures brought down inventory levels from 105 days Turn Over
equivalent to 60 days.

10. FB - Production
10.1 Czech Consultant Scandalised by “Cattle Class”
When we celebrated the despatch of the 500th drum we were reminded of
the time when the first sophisticated drum plate was transported by bullock
cart to the shops and the Czech consultant was indeed scandalised about the
treatment given to a drum plate.

10.2 OP&C-VRD`s Conviction


Production shops, by the virtue of the nature of products manufactured were
slowly becoming the most prominent area compared to production planning.
After the CE collaboration, the then ED VR Deenadayalu realised the
importance of developing organizational values and systems for lasting
success. He made certain changes to give higher importance to Planning
though some of the production executives left the service unhappy over the
decision. The concept of OP&C came to stay in BHEL Trichy thanks also to
the support of Ramanathan,DGM. Looking back, one could appreciate the
fact that this evolutionary step shifted the focus from Tonnageto sequential
despatch, DU completion, erectability, cash collection, and quality.

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10.3 Collaborator amazed by speed of Indigenization
The collaboration agreement with Stock (USA) was to import certain critical
parts of the Gravimetric feeder till indigenization was done to the full
satisfaction of the collaborator. K Ramakrishnan formed a task force to
speed up the indigenization effort and we completed the task of
indigenization, years ahead. The collaborator could not believe that it could
be done so fast.

10.4 X-20 Tough Material To `Handle`


X-20 pipes after getting bent in the Incremental Bender had to be
immediately transferred to a furnace in the Press shop for normalizing and
stress relieving. These irregularly shaped large bends had to be transported
across Bldg1 within minutes to the furnace. The logistics for crane loading
and unloading at various places had to be carefully planned and meticulously
executed. It used to be an interesting `Mela` every time this operation was
being carried out.

10.5 Around the world in 18 days by ‘Press Group’The massive 8000 tonne
press was the most expensive piece of equipment for Trichy. To select a
suitable vendor for the press, a team headed by ED E.S. Chandrasekaran
and members MP Premraj, CS Raghunathan and myself went around Europe,
US and Japan. It was a hectic trip. When we travelled from Now York to
Tokyo we were told that it was one of the first DC10 flightsgrounded earlier
because of a door panel problem. I took a few additional flights within
Europe to join Sundararaghavan for exploring machine options for valves
expansion. To be associated with 8000 T Press, the largest machine in BHEL
Trichy from concept to completion was a unique experience to me though in
the end, I was the lone member of the original ` Press Group` left to erect
and commission the equipment!

10.6 Autoclave for HAL


For the first time, an order for a huge autoclave was given to BHEL for
indigenous development. There were several technical intricacies involved in
the design and manufacture of the huge door. I entrusted the job to Sri D E
Neelakantan. I along with A. Vedhachalam spent several days with the to
develop a novel door locking mechanism for the vessel. It was a proud
moment when we could ship the vessel to HAL Bangalore.

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10.7 Small Firm – Big Bold Decision
The machining of the Gravimetric Feeder body was a challenge. Sambasivan
approached Velmurugan industries, a firm owned by ex-Machine Shop
veteran Srinivasan. He came forward to buy a suitable machine and carry
out the job. He took Nagappa, former chief of machine shop to Germany and
procured a Floor Borer. The Gravimetric Feeder machining was done
successfully and this association continues to be an example of a symbiotic
relationship between BHEL and ancillary industry.

10.8 Making of A Blue-Eyed Boy


R Sundararaman recalls an incident on being attached to MSTR. He was
meeting Nagappa for the first time. Nagappa bombarded him with questions
on machining and tooling. Not being able to answer most of the questions,
Sundararaman was virtually in tears when he left the room. Over the years,
Sundararaman became Nagappa’s blue-eyed boy.

10.9 Welder Policy- Master stroke by M.K. Sridhar


The threat of welder’s work stoppage was a regular yearly phenomenon
towards the end of the production year. To find a lasting solution for the
age-old problem, Mr. Kannapan and I wanted to make a new policy which
would be more logical and natural, but we could not complete the job
despite our best rapport with welders and Mr. Madani, the association
chairman.
It was indeed a master-stroke by Sri MK Sridhar when he had made fitters
as welding machine operators taking them away from the purview of the
welder’s policy.

10.10 Material Handling


As Dr. Weck has said, material handling and not welding is the chief activity
in the boiler shop. To examine the costs, oneshould look at Material Handling
first. The impact of this truth was felt when we saw the level of automation
and mechanization in CE shops. Cylindrical objects like tubes and pipes in a
boiler shop lent themselves for easy mechanization. A `Facilities`
department supported by plant designs was created under R.
Balasubramanium and Vajravelu for designing low-cost automation for
shops.

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During a promotion interview, when a Rigger was asked if he would lift a 15-
tonne object with a 10-tonne crane he replied “Private Thookum, Company
Thookadhu”. There was hilarious laughter in the interview room.

10.11 Welding Technology Center


A solid start was given to WTC by B Pattabiraman, a welding expert to take
care of all the aspects of welding in BHEL – a temple of welding with
hundreds of material specifications. WTC collaborated with M&S for machine
welding, Quality on NDT and weldability & heat treatment, Shops & Boiler
Inspectorate on welder qualifications and Personnel on welder’s policy.
Pattabi’s and RS Babu’s contribution to welding was huge. I remember when
M Subramaniam and Ravindran were in-charge of WTC, D&H – 7018-1
electrodes were used in the place of Supratherm and a 50% saving was
effected.
11. Tool Engineering- Sharpening the Saw
Tool Engineering has been a silently efficient department. Starting with a
design of tools for all the presses and press brakes, jigs and fixtures for
machining and tube expanders, and working closely with tool room, tool
engineering has contributed so much to the forming and machining
technology in BHEL. S Balasubramanium, S Raman, A Rajagopal, CS
Raghunathan, R Balasubramanium and AN Rangarajan were some of the
stalwarts who came from this department.
DELTA DRILLS
When several hundreds of Tube Sheets, each requiring thousands of holes to
be drilled. Vijayakumar of tool engg, now a GM, came up with Delta drills, a
new concept in drilling. He established that as against 40 holes in a shift as
many as 700 holes could be drilled with Delta drills.
BHEL & REC JOIN HANDS
T-72 tank armoured plates of different shape, sizes and materials were
being imported by Ordinance factories. We undertook the indigenisation of
these components and offered competitive prices.Thanks to my class mate
in Avadi, we got orders which would keep our Presses busy. We found a
source in Taiwan for the press dies required. There was a need to make the
drawings for the tools and templates to check the profiles at that time we
did not have the AutoCAD software facilities for this. Fortunately, we could
get the help from REC Computer centre. It was a classic case of industry-
educational institution collaboration. Karunakaran and Nagarajan were
involved in this work

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The top die of 8000 T press had developed cracks because of eccentric
loading during pressing. It was a mammoth job involving in situ welding
profiling and repair.Tool Engg, M&S, WRI and Shops constituted a task force
to successfully complete the job

12. Valves- not just playing the second fiddle


Valves has been keeping up with the growth in the Fossils area in terms of
production facilities, production, productivity, product profile, quality, turn-
over and other parameters. Sane, Nagappa, Sundarraghavan, R.
Krishnamurthi, S. Raman, Ethiraj and Parameswaran have seen to it that
Valves remained a vibrant area in Trichy’s operation. Besides Power &
Industry sectors, the requirements of the Oil & Gas sector for well heads and
X-mas tree racks for onshore as well as offshore application have also been
met.
The introduction of ERP, re-layout of shops, variety reduction of valves by
unification of materials, use of higher ratings for select valves, use of
popular end connections and inventory reduction through standardization
were the key approaches made.
Use of elastomeric seals, special hydrocarbon gland packing and improved
designs of pressure containing and controlling parts could increase the
working temperature to 350 degrees centigrade and pressure up to 5,000
PSI for High Pressure Valves and 10,000 PSI for Tube Seals.
Back-Pressure valves witnessed innovative design of the mechanism for
engaging the valve threads on to the tube handles. Development of mono-
block X-mas tree valves upto 5,000 PSI has put us on par with overseas
competitors like FMC and Cooper Cameron.
Developments carried-out in conventional valves include
• New Compact Series Gate Valves in Class 150 – for refinery
application.
• Angle Type HP Bypass Valve & patenting of same.
• Severe Service SH/RH Spray Control Valves for 120/135/250/270 MW.
• Indigenization of all Conventional Valves for OTSC Boilers.
• Evolution of C12A, F91 andF92 for high temperature Body Material for
Valves.
• MEFCV & HWL Control Valves of OTSC being imported.
• Angle Drain Valves for Turbine Drain Application, for NTPC valves body
• Parametric modeling of Gate valves through KBE Project.

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• Spring Loaded Bypass Valves and Development of Inconel Valves for
AUSC application.
• MIG Stelliting for small bore valves body
• Rigging up Inhouse Safety Valve Testing Facility

12.1 Moving with The Times


For Valves Expansion, as against the larger number of conventional general-
purpose machines initially proposed, there was a suggestion that Special
Purpose NC/CNC could be procured for ultimate productivity, and accordingly
quotations were obtained. The local machine manufacturers made offers,
with the same machines with NC/CNC Retrofits. This was not acceptable to
Shops & M&S as the basic machine was not sturdy enough for NC/CNC
retrofits compared to the imported Spanish and Czech machines. When the
matter was referred to Corporate Office, CMD approved Trichy`s
recommendations subject to the condition that the responsibility of ensuring
the predicted ultimate productivity was with Trichy. The machines procured
have been working excellently for many years now.

12.2 VETRI (Success) in Valves ERP in Trichy


Introduction of ERP in Valves division (VETRI – Valves ERP in Trichy) and
extension to other areas was something of a fairy tale. We had made a
huge saving in the Valves Capital Expansion expenditure and requested CMD
to allow us to make use of the savings for introducing ERP in Valves area.
CMD readily agreed to our request and we went ahead with a missionary
zeal. A large number of best executives from various areas were transferred
to form a task force and ERP was put in place. Special mention should be
made to the contribution by C. Subbarao and late Venkataraman of Valves
for their ceaseless efforts. Valves was the forerunner in introducing ERP in
the entire BHEL.

12.3 Goindwal, Home away from home


Goindwal was to receive ISO 9001 certification and I was invited to be
present. I was overwhelmed by the hospitality by the GM Mr. Manjeet Singh
and other staff. The unit was making definite progress towards emerging as
a stand-alone entity. I used the visit as an opportunity to try my oratorical
skill in Hindi. I had the good fortune of being taken to the Golden Temple in
Amritsar.

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13. Cash profit in SSTP for the first time
SSTP had two major bottlenecks affecting output and profits - The poor yield
from the Vertical Piercing Press and the non-availability of the hot mill
furnace for continuous operation. Benchmarking the cost of hot finished
tubes in SSTP with that of other manufacturers revealed that the cost of
SSTP’s hot finished tubes was significantly higher and it would make
economic sense to procure these tubes and put them through the cold mill.
The hot mill could be reserved for specific optimum sizes and made available
for proper maintenance for continuous trouble-free operation. This change,
supported by PLR and later by G. Arunagiri yielded year end cash profit for
the first time ever in SSTP.

14. Industrial Power Projects


14.1 Close to The Customer
IPP had won orders for 13 HRSGs from RIL for their Paatal Ganga, Hazira
and Jaamnagar plants. These HRSGs were unique in that 30% of the total
steam output was through Supplementary Firing as against the normal 5%
for which we had design and engineering support from the collaborator.
During operation, there were identical and repeat problems in the Final
Superheaters. RIL was concerned and BHEL CMD asked Sri Balagurunathan
(GM, IPP) and me to rush to the refineries. After the visit, Sri
Balagurunathan studied the problems in-depth using CFD and other
analytical models in R&D Hyderabad. He could diagnose the problem, take
corrective action and demonstrate satisfactory operation of the HRSGs at
rated capacity.
A presentation on the work done was made in an International Seminar in
Las Vegas organized by the collaborators appreciated by the participants.

14.2 CFBC Marketing – A Success Story


BHEL had supplied 4 X 210-megawatt Tower type lignite fired boilers to NLC
for their stage 2 expansion. It was found that the presence of Marcosite in
the fuel reduced the ash-fusion temperature, formed lumps of fly-ash and
got deposited in the cooler regions of the tower. Periodically, these lumps
fell down, causing serious damage to the spreader tubes at the bottom.
During a marketing meeting with NLC for additional boilers, Sri
Balagurunathan advised the customers to go in for CFBC technology
available with BHEL. CFBC’s bed temperatures were lower (900 degrees

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centigrade) and did not allow Marcosite to form fly-ash lumps. Further, CFBC
technology did away with expensive Mills requiring periodic maintenance.
For the next order, NLC went in for 2X250-megawatt CFBC units. With the
success of these units, 2X125-megawatt CFBC boilers were ordered from
BHEL by GIRAL, Rajasthan.

14.3 Collaborators Seeking Collaboration Of BHEL


The success of our CFBC Know-how can be gauged from the fact that our
collaborators for Fossil Boilers approached BHEL with a request for
Technology Transfer from us on CFBC.

15. Spares Business -Spare A Thought for Business


After Spares was made a separate product with a Product Manager, there
was greater focus on aspects of Spares business. Increasing the top line of
the business through Customer meet and meetings, greater and regular
interaction with FES, Knowledge of cost and market price of Various
categories of Boiler spares, exploring the possibility of Reverse Engineering
of spare parts of non BHEL units, tying up finance for customer for spares
purchase, focus on Cash collection,Strategy for collection from chronic
defaulters were the issues discussed in Spares meetings. The focal point for
the R&M business was also debated both in Trichy and in Mgt Committee
meetings. Because of the greater focus, the TO could be raised tenfold in 12
years from 30 to 300 crores.

16. Business Development


When the Going is tough, the tough get going When boiler orders had
dwindled, to keep the operations busy, we had to take hundreds of orders
from different equipment from Army, Navy, Aircraft industry, and Research
Institutions in Govt Sector and virtually all the reputed companies in the
industry sector. Sri. Srinivasulu was the author of this bold move. A business
development department was created for securing and monitoring orders. At
one time, hundreds of equipment were being manufactured in every
production shop involving a variety of new materials, technologies,
techniques and other customer requirements.
It was a hectic time, but a fantastic experience with low cycle time products.
Maybe the margins were not significant, but the experience that it gave us in
terms of design, planning, quality and execution to meet the customers
requirement was priceless. There were numerous visits from very important

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customers for the follow up of their orders. It was an education to see some
of the top executives of reputed organisations willing to sit with our junior
colleagues to review the progress of their orders.
We could understand the significance of having to be paranoid about what
our customers want and deliver the same in market acceptable formats of
time, cost and quality. This indeed put us in good stead for the better
execution of our conventional contracts.

17. SVP – Special Vehicles Project


Sri. Srinivasulu was the pioneer in establishing armoured recovery vehicles
as one of the products of BHEL Trichy. With Maj. Gen (Retd.) Chattaraman
as the advisor, we formed a separate group – SVP to give greater thrust to
this business. Sri Dexter was in charge of this group. Maj Genl Chattaraman
was the Consultant. We were able to crease the turnover of this product
over the years.
One year, a record number of ARVs were produced but could not be
accounted because of a requirement from the army that the vehicles had to
be field tested. Field testing involved an imported high-cost test equipment
involving a long delivery period. We decided to have a go at making a test
equipment in-house, making use of one of the ARV engines and carrying out
some modifications to the hydraulic and electrical controls. The ARVs were
successfully tested and could be accounted for the year. S.N. Krishna – the
ED, couldn’t believe that we could complete the tests and fulfil the budget
turnover. Sri Andrew, a senior maintenance engineer was given an award of
excellence for this job.

18. Nuclear- Remembering N.S.Kurup & Venugopal


Ramadurai has elsewhere recalled the contribution by the Nuclear group. I
would only like to mention about the remarkable work done by N.S. Kurup,
an outstanding engineer and Venugopal in designing 500 MW Nuclear Steam
Generator. Both of them are not with us today but their work would be a
tribute to their design and engineering skill.
I recall during one year Nuclear area`s Turn Over was Comparable to FB and
we could meet our targets because of this.

19. BAP Ranipet- A Tribute to R.S. Babu.


19.1 Awakening of a giant

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Although BAP Ranipet had been a part of the BHEL Trichy unit, traditionally it
has been acting as a totally independent entity. With E.S. Chandhrasekhar,
S. Bala, S. Ranganathan and S.N Krishna Siva and Babu in the helm of
affairs, the Unit wasemerging as a manufacturing giant. During my stay as
ED-Trichy, BAP Ranipet was excelling in all aspects of management. RS
Babu, the Chief Executive of the unit, ably supported by Misra,
Ananthakrishnan and other senior members of the management team could
always respond very well to the organizational needs for Production,
productivity, quality, customer satisfaction and people welfare.

19.2 Small Axial Fans Replace Large Radial Fans


Our collaborators for Fans i.e. KKK employed large, high speed radial
designs for IDapplications. The trend world-over was to use slow speed
axial-reaction fans for larger sized units. BAP chose TLT as their
collaborators for this type of fans which enabled us to also reduce fan
weights considerably. Babu, Ananthakrishnan and Misra successfully
indigenised the critical components of the nans, namely aluminium blades
and the support body. We were now ready to offer axial-reaction fans for
500 MW and 600 MW units and super-critical boilers.

19.3 Titanium Cryogenic Vessels for ISRO


Titanium shells for Cryogenic vessels for ISRO were to be made of 0 .5MM
titanium sheets. To manufacture the shells, special jigs, fixtures and other
holding devices were called for besides special machines. Were called for.
Babu and Ananthakrishnan closely followed-up the job at various stages to
ensure success of the venture.

19.4 Missile launchers


Dr. Sivadhanu Pillai, chief of DRDO had a special regard for BAPs
capabilities. With his advice and support, BAP could undertake the
manufacture of a Ship Missile Launcher. The job could be successfully
completed thanks to the active participation of DRDO. It has been a feather
in BAP’s cap.
During one of my visits to BAP, Ananthakrishnan suggested conversion of
furnaces from producer gas to LPG. He did this job successfully and when he
was in Trichy he carried out similar modifications for some of the furnaces in
Trichy as well.

A Story in our own words Page 264


To check the overtime going out of control, RS Babu reduced OT in steps
and finally eliminated the same. It was a big challenge to win the employee
over with determined efforts and proper counselling. There were upheavals
but the BAP management successfully faced the issue.
R.S. Babu received the prestigious Keith Hartley memorial award for his
contribution to welding. He was the second BHEL executive to receive the
award after V.K. Gopinath who received Awardin 1999.
R.S. Babu is no more with us. We remember him as an outstanding welding
engineer, a good sports person, and above all an excellent man.

19.5 Customer Delight


Once, AV Narayanan and Sri Gopalasamy contacted me from Dalmia
cements. They wanted to know if BHEL could positively commit to design,
engineer, supply, erect and commission a suitable ESP for their cement plant
from concept to commission – to be completed in one year. We promised
them that BHEL could be trusted. RS Babu gave the offer and did the job in
less than a year’s time to the delight of the customers. AVN tells me that
the equipment is performing excellently right from the day it was
commissioned.

20. Piping Centre


Piping being the last product group in the sequence of erection requiring
inputs from Boiler and Turbine groups, the asking rate for closing Piping DUs
was high towards the end of the Innings, making it appear to be a laggard.
Thanks to the determined efforts of David and Sivasubramanian, this
position was altered and soon I had an easier time in the Management
Committee meetings.
At one time we were looking for piping orders even from unrelated
customers, but then slowly and surely Piping Centre has consolidated its
position. As the largest provider of world class integrated piping solutions for
Power & Industry Sectors with support from Boiler and Valves plant Trichy.

21. Quality
21.1 Divine Discontent
A Srinivasulu used to talk of “Divine Discontent” – a feeling that was the
cornerstone for his passion for quality. I remember that once a Package
Boiler for a customer in Egypt was being moved by a trailer from Trichy to
Chennai. Sri Srinivasulu on his way to Trichy from Chennai, happened to see

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the trailer. He was thoroughly dissatisfied with the packing done for the
consignment. He directed the trailer back to Trichy and only after the
packing was redone to his satisfaction, he allowed the dispatch to take place.

21.2 Small is Beautiful


Central Lab (Building 3) is one of the smallest buildings in Boiler Plant, but it
has seen many eminent and interesting personalities like HRS Rao, ASN Rao,
D Ramamurthy, Unni, Thyagarajan, Arunagiri, Dr. Venkatraman, Eeswaran,
and of course A Srinivasulu. Central lab was the brain trust for SQC, TQM,
ISO, EC and other quality philosophies which had a definite say in the quality
culture of the organization.
Mr. Thyagarajan was an eminent metallurgist with a sixth sense when it
came to failure analysis. He was instrumental later in integrating all Lab
Facilities of Trichy and getting NABL certification for the labs. Eeswaran was
too modest and unassuming for a person of multifaceted talents.
Dr. G. Venkatraman was a genius, especially when it came to Metallography.
He won AHDM international metallography awards and other NRBC awards.
His contribution in experimental techniques in hot-stage microscopy, x-ray
diffraction tests for cold samples and hardness measurement of materials at
service temperature have been outstanding.
NDT housed in another compact area could boat of stalwarts like Pandala,
and Bhaskaran.

21.3 TQM- Formula for Success


TQM as a management Strategy had taken roots in BHEL thanks to the
efforts of Srinivasuluand A.V. Krishnan. In the words of the Chairman, to
bring about a transformation of the organisation as a customer centric,
market oriented outward looking one, sustaining on its own strength to build
distinctive competitive advantage through innovation and never-ending
improvement culture, TQM appeared to be the best bet. Earlier we had
dabbled with management philosophies such as MBO and OD mainly based
on American approaches. TQM has an Asian flavour to it.
However, getting CII-EXIM Bank awards for TQM Business Excellence was
looking like a moving target. We had to re-double our efforts. With the help
of Sri. Kamalnathan and Sri. VGK, plans were made and meticulously
followed up. As a result, we received awards for commitment to TQM one
year and significant achievement in Business Excellence the next year –
indeed a remarkable job.

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22. Finance
One of the good fortunes of BHEL Trichy has been the high calibre of its
Finance Chiefs and other executives starting with P.T. Venugopal – the first
FA&CAO, the department has seen stalwarts who later made it big in Public
Sector. P.T. Venugopal became the CMD of ONGC. SVS Raghavan, who
succeeded him rose to the position of Chairman of BHEL and later the Chief
of STC&MMTC Combine. V.S. Chakrapani became a Director of Kudremukh.
T.Chokalingam became Director (F) BHEL.
Over the years, there has been a shift in the style of working of the Finance
department. From one of accounting control to Finance Management and
close association of finance officials like T.R Chandrashekar, S. Chokalingam
and Krishnamurthi with other area heads for achieving the superordinate
goal of the Organization.

22.1 Excise Exercise


During my tenure as ED, Excise duty was charged at 15% for boiler parts
and 10% for boiler. Excise Department classified our despatches as boiler
parts and levied Excise Duty at 15%. With technical justifications and a
model boiler we explained to the Excise tribunal that what we despatched
were the boiler only and not parts. Ultimately the tribunal accepted our
argument and asked Excise Department to levy only 10% as excise duty. Dr
VGK took the lead in making the model and explaining our case. Maadhu and
Venkataraman also helped Thyagarajan in persuading the Excise Department
resulting in a benefit of Rs 70 crores.

22.2 Malaysian Expedition


About 70 crores was held up with the Malaysian Electricity Board, pending
the clarifications on many technical and financial aspects. Thyagarajan led a
team of experts, convinced the Malaysian Electricity authorities and
successfully got 70 crores released in BHEL’s favour.

22.3 Bank Guarantee not enough guarantee


To enter into a contract for the supply of recovery vehicles from Slovakia to
BHEL, there was a requirement that a bank guarantee to the satisfaction of
the State Bank of India was to be executed by the supplier. SBI was not

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agreeable to a bank guarantee from Tatra Bank – Slovakia, as its financial
parameters were not sufficient for the contract. I took up the matter with
CMD and he directed one of the specialists in the Corporate Office to help
Trichy. We sent a team of 3 people – Thyagarajan, Dexter and an executive
from the Corporate Office to Slovakia with the demand that the holding bank
of Tatra Bank in Austria should execute the bank guarantee. The holding
bank had reservations about the description of these vehicles as “Armoured”
vehicles. We changed the name to “Recovery” vehicles and sorted out the
problem. This was very important from the turnover of BHEL Trichy in the
subsequent years.

22.4 SVS`s circle of happiness


The total circle of happiness, a thought advocated by SVS continued to be a
guiding light for troubled professionals in the organization. In one of the
meetings when SVS declared that each one of the persons in the meeting
hall could become a General Manager of BHEL, the audience was sceptical.
The import of SVS’s declaration was realized only later in their life.
23. Personnel
Personnel department started with literally towering personalities like P.A.
Menon and Ayyappa. Ayyappa’s advise was sought by BHEL Personnel heads
whenever there used to be an industrial crisis in the unit.
The need to provide promotional avenues for meritorious non-technical staff
possibly compelled the Management to absorb them in senior positions in
Personnel. Some of them were good Personnel managers. Others were good
at following precedence and rules and regulations and met the control
function requirements of Personnel. Executive promotions & Career path
management were taken care of directly by the ED‘s office and the Human
Resources Department, with the support of Personnel.

23.1 Trust Trichy for pioneering initiatives


BHEL Trichy had earned the confidence of Directors as the place one could
successfully sell change management ideas for implementation. Performance
Management System (PMS) Aligning HR to company objectives, Use of
Balanced Scorecards, Career path modelling, Succession Planning, Multi-
Skilling, HR Optimization were some of the ideas GM/P&A Sathyanarayanan
could take to the employees and convince them during my period and
Mathur’s period after me. A feature of this hard selling was my regular
breakfast meetings with Unions in the guest house and daily meetings

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between area managers and employees in the canteen for better
communication.

23.2 Expectation Conditioning PLR`S STRATEGY


Expectation Conditioning was a strategy that PL Ramanathan as Personnel
Chief believed in, while dealing with employees. In fact, the employees
appreciated his frugal ways in saving resources of the and Organization. He
knew each and every employee of the Organization by name and their
background which was sometimes astonishing. His patience was phenomenal
and he could not be provoked easily. All this held back the Unions from
making inflated demands.

23.3 Between the Devil and the Deep Sea


BHEL Trichy was slow in implementing a court order on the dismissal of
around 18 employees involved in the false community certificate cases. One
fine day, the chief of the National SC-ST commission landed up in Trichy and
demanded the immediate dismissal of these employees then and there. On
one hand, we faced contempt of court, on the other hand employees` unrest
was on the cards. After consulting CMD and Director-Personnel and after
informing the Trade Union representatives, with a heavy heart we had to
issue the dismissal orders to send home a large number of bread-winners of
families who had worked in BHEL for many years, an unprecedented action
indeed.

23.4 Horns of A Dilemma & Collectors Timely Help


There was a complaint from one of the Campus Schools that the Principal
was manhandled by a union leader. The situation was explosive with inter-
union rivalry, political acrimony and other complex issues involved. Added to
this, the principal happened to be my school-mate. I contacted my friend,
the then Trichy Collector – Sri Moorthy to come and talk to the parties
concerned to defuse the situation. He did a splendid job and we were saved
from an embarrassing situation.

23.5 Flood Relief - Repeat Of 1979


Uyyakondan canal near BHEL got flooded and breached the shores. Flood
water entered many houses and hundreds of people had to be evacuated.
P.L Ramanathan and N.Natarajan organized relief camps in the Kalyana

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Mandapams for the affected families. People remembered the yeoman
service of VRD who had saved 600 people during the 1979 floods.

23.6 Discretion was the better part of Valour


During a period of industrial unrest, false rumours about the Police checking
the houses of some of the workers in the Township spread like wildfire and
created a huge commission inside the Plant. Workers collecting in thousands,
started marching towards Building 24.
S. Raman, the then chief of Production, and I were there with some of the
customers in the model room at that time. Raman had been vocal in his
views and had earned some displeasure of the striking workers. Sensing
trouble, I requested Raman to go to an adjoining room connecting the model
room and stay put there. Some people shouting slogans, came into the
model room but seeing only some of us, left soon. We could hear slogan
shouting and doors banging in Building 24. After calm was restored, we
allowed Raman to come out. What would have happened if Raman had
exposed himself and taken his usual combative stance was anybody’s guess.

23.7 Strike Day Memories


On strike days, MKS would lead the group of officers and enter the factory
via the North Gate passing through the cordon of striking workers. During
one particular strike day, when MKS was leading the group in, the striking
workers stood up and only allowed MKS to pass through. That was the kind
of respect that MKS was commanding with the work-force.

23.8 My Impulsive Action during a tool-down strike


Once there was a tool-down strike inside the factory. A procession was being
taken by the workers inside Building 1. Salaam and I were monitoring the
situation. The site of a person in the procession beating a drum enraged me.
Without thinking of any consequences, I just pulled the drum from him and
asked him to behave himself. Fortunately, the situation did not flare up.
Salaam later admonished me for my impulsive action. I was also surprised
that in a situation like that, something came over me.

23.9 SKR, Fredrick Taylor & Elton Mayo


SKR – a doyen of industrial engineering, steeped in the Frederick Taylor
philosophy had been a last word in systems, procedures, time and motion
studies, resource planning. After many illustrious years in management

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services, he served the last few years of his service in the Personnel
department. After retirement, as the chairman of the local industrial
engineering chapter, he had organized a seminar on the different
approaches to human response development in organizations. I felt that
SKRs transfer to Personnel as well as his choice of seminar topic was
something of a fusion of the philosophies of Scientific Management Guru
Fredric Taylor and the Behaviourist Elton Mayo.

23.10 No Pain No Gain


There was a big exodus of students of RSK to State Board schools for better
marks for admission to professional courses. Children and parents were
equally not happy. They approached me for getting state board 11th and
12th standard classes to be made a part of RSK. We did not pay heed to
prophets of gloom who said it was a painful experience to deal with the
authorities. Sundaram, our crisis man was sent to Chennai to sit with the
Education Department officials to accomplish the task of opening a State
Board wing in RSK. He did this successfully and the happy parents thanked
the management profusely.
23.11 HRDC
HRDC was our gateway to BHEL and we have fond memories of the same.
Sri.Ananthakrishnan was the Sr Supdt. The morning hours were tough so
hot under the asbestos sheetsfor physical activities. Antony Durai`s classes
were interesting. I still remember his Time & Motion {pun unintended}
Study how only four minutes time is sufficient forcompleting all the morning
activities from brushing to bathing. Our diary books used to be full of
“continued butt welding
Any one who has spent time in HRDC will appreciate the fact why the
Institute is considered best in India.

23.12 Security
Trichy had decided in favour of its own Security Force rather than CISF being
deputed. This decisionseemed to have been justified from Trichy`s
experience. Whenever CSO Mr.Nair used to raise the issue of dwindling
Security strength, I used to tell him that a state of the art Technology based
security system must be attempted before increasing the number of Security
staff.

24. Safety

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Accidents, especially fatal ones are nightmares for Factory Managers.
Despite the best of engineering enforcement and education measures by Mr.
Duraisaamy and Mr. Venkatesan, there were accidents involving Electric
shocks, falling from heights, grinding wheels breaking, road & railway track
mishaps and incidents ofgas asphyxiations. Factory managers were held
answerable to the victim’s relatives, personnel, unions, police Factory and
Electric inspectorates and sometimes even the Courts.

24.1 Search for A Black Cat in A Dark Room Which Is Not


There
There was an incident, which looking back is funny, but then was enough to
cause a panic. One day, an agitated Dr. VGK rushed to my room with the
news that one of the workers involved in the Linear Accelerator inspection
was missing and was feared to have been trapped inside the LA room.
Though it was not possible in theory with all the fool-proof safety systems
and interlocks, the situation created panic because of the missing person.
There was no trace of anyone inside the room and we launched a massive
manhunt both inside the factory and outside. To our great relief, the person
was found in the township alive and kicking. He was then taken to the
hospital and was checked for radiation exposure. We heaved a sigh of relief
when everything was fine.

24.2 K.Ramakrishnan`s Bold Gesture


Once there was a fatal accident in Bay 1A involving a worker falling from a
height. A huge crowd from all over the factory had gathered. The body was
not allowed to be moved, pending an immediate assurance on the amount of
compensation and job to one of the victim’s family members. Our request
and persuasion were not successful. Ramakrishnan GM came to the scene
and tried to pacify the crowd. Despite his best efforts, there was no
improvement in the situation. Ramakrishnan asked the body to be moved to
the ambulance amidst shouting and objections from the crowd. The body
was moved, Ramakrishnan got into the security jeep and I followed suit. We
moved away amidst shouting and some stone throwing. Normalcy was then
restored. It was a tribute to Ramakrishnan’s courage and decisive action.

25. R&D
25.1 Winding Up MHD

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MHD was a great idea at one time. The Russians had commercialised this
technology. However, other technologies involving lower capital outlay and
higher efficiency were available in the market and there were no takers for
MHD. It had devolved on me to close down MHD operations shift the
manpower to other areas.
When this was being done, we were reminded of what Jeanne Philippe
D’Campe had written aboutwhat happens when R&D gets out of sync with
Market trends.

26. CCDP
26.1 All Is Well That Ends Welded Successfully
The manufacture and erection of the gasifier involved some intricate welding
in a narrow, inaccessible, confined space of a Jacketed vessel, where a
person had to enter through a very narrow man-hole, crouch and crawl and
yet achieve x-ray quality welding. Due to a lack of ventilation and high
temperatures from pre-heating, the job was rendered extremely difficult.
Thanks to the efforts of. Nagabhushana, Rohira and Venkatesan – a high
pressure welder, we could complete the job- a fantastic feat indeed.

27. FES -Service to The Customer


Dr.V.T. Sathyanathan’s name is synonymous with FES. He has already
touched upon the origin and the exceptional contribution made by the
department in staying close to the Customers when it was most needed
because of non-experience of abrasive Indian coals and their combustion
uncertainties. Chandramouli, Jainendrakumar and Dr.VTS formed a
formidable team to fulfil the dreams of S.Ranganathan, S.Sridharan and
A.V.Narayanan to foster the culture of `Customer Phobia` in Boiler business.
Tremendous goodwill was generated among customers, consultants,
Government monitoring agencies and also resulted in bringing out improved
design standards to modify the original practices given by the collaborators.
There were complaints from IPCL Gandhar on improper working of the PEA
Body Burner System meant for Naphtha/HSD firing. Stayingwith the
customer for three months, Nagamanickam observed that flame length
control, air side jamming and burner loading were not proper. The UK
suppliers were persuaded to make modifications in their system and the
Contract could be closed. Nagamanickam was awarded with a Gold medal
for his work.

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28. Management Services
28.1 LRP`s contribution to Corporate plan.
Long-range planning, as practised by Trichy, thanks to the group of
executives like A. Krishnan,S. Bala,S.N. Rajan, C.S. Ragunathanhad its share
of contribution towards the evolution of the BHEL corporate plan. Some of
the brightest guys in LRP had fully participated in the successful
implementation of the plan as well.

28.2 Omnipresent I.E.D.


Whenever there used to be a problem involving difficult decision making, the
easy thing to do was to refer it to IED and IED engineers were ready to
oblige. I remember the names of Jayakumar, Balakrishnan, and
Venkatesan, not speak of A.K. Varadharajan, Indran. SN Rajan and SKR.
Venkatesan used to be a pet consultant to Sri.Cariappa, former ED of
Hyderabad when he was trying to revitalise 7 sick industries in Karnataka,
out of which Remco and Mysore Porcelain were taken over by BHEL.

29. Welding Research Institute


RK made WRI into a world class institution.
I remember working with RK on a R&D project of Pipe Butt Welding using
Magnetic Rotating Arc technique. We used the Incremental bender for
clamping the pipes, generated a magnetic field around the joint area got a
welding arc to go around the joint. Weproduced the required coalescence,
but couldn`t make a satisfactory upsetting operation to complete the weld.
RM area manufacturing Aluminium Ladders for Defence as well as BHEL
Jhansi and Bhopal benefitted from WRI`s expertise. Earlier I had the
privilege to flag off Electro Gas Welding machine built by WRI to Bhopal.
Rohira`s help was invaluable in welding CCDP Gasifier jacketed vessel.
Electrode Manufacturing Facility was shifted from WRI to the main Factory
after it was established.

30. Civil - Factory and Township


30.1 Well Begun by PVK Achan Fully Done.
Corporate Office wanted the civil costs of Trichy to be benchmarked with
that of Bhopal and reduced substantially although Bhopal`s costs were at
least four years older. P.V.K. Achan, had serious discussions with Civil group

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to find ways and means of achieving the drastic reduction. He decided to
fabricate the entire structures at the factory site, entrusting the job to Kaveri
Structurals and Everest Engineering and carry out erection manually using
the fabricated structural parts, avoiding costly mobile cranes. Instead of a
pumped drainage system, a gravity flow system was adopted. Costs were
contained considerably.
When one walks around the factory one notices gigantic machines like 8000
presses, 4Roller, Incremental Benders, Compressors, furnaces, EOT cranes,
and what not, all so impressive majestic and awe inspiring. But, it does not
strike anyone that this equipment are sitting on mammoth foundations and
structures designed and erected by civil engineering experts. Degaonkar
gave full support to all CCDP civil activities.

30.2 Trees help BHEL breathe easy


Credit for making the Factory and Township green and the temp here at
least a degree less than the surrounding places should go to the Civil Dept.
From “Maram” Menon to Harsha, there was dedicated work to preserve
and grow trees. I, along with N. Natarajan had the privilege of planting the
millionth tree in BHEL premises. We even brought out BHEL Calendar during
one year dedicated to the Trees in Tamilnadu. Harsha did a lot of work on
waste water recovery. I have very good feeling about the creation of
Puthayiram Poonga and leaving it to be managed by retired employees.

31. Medical Facilities – Neighbour’s Envy, Owner’s Pride


Everyone is unanimous about what we miss the maximum away from BHEL
Trichy is the Medical facility. The number of friendly and expert Doctors,
Nursing staff hundreds of beds, Operation Theatres, special equipment,
Primary healthcare facilities, referrals to experts and speciality hospitals,
employees could not have asked for more. BHEL Trichy’s history will not be
complete without mentioning with gratitude the valuable service rendered by
the Doctors and other medical staff.

32. OHS, A “Model” INSTITUTION


Thanks to the vision of VK and VRD and the missionary zeal with which Dr.
Sadanandha Murthy carried forward the idea of establishing the National
Model Centre for Occupational Health Services at BHEL Trichy, today the
institution has become a pioneer in the establishment of occupational health
services at the place of employment. In its more than 30 years of existence,

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the Model Centre has passed on the expertise to many industries in India
and has equipped many medical professionals in industries with the
knowledge of occupational health, thanks to the efforts of Dr.
Narasimhamurthy

33. Excellence in Excel Awards


When EXCELAwards for outstanding contribution were first instituted, out of
the 22 awards given across the entire BHEL, Trichy had the distinction of
bagging a lion’s share of 14 of them. In the awards function, I was indeed a
very proud man.
Anthony of SSTP received the highest award- Shram Bhushan – from the
PM.
There were many other awards regularly bagged byBHEL Trichy. Golden key
Honda rolling trophy for value engineering, Insaan award for suggestion
schemes, Vishvakarma puraskar, British Safety Council Sword of honour,
National safety council awards, Best employer award, Best employer of
handicapped award tonameonly a few.

34. Tiruvalluvar`s divine Presence in Township


Tiruvalluvar and his Magnum opus Tirukkural are considered as Tamilnadu’s
greatest contribution to the world. To install a statue of this saint in a
prominentplace had been the dream of not only the members of the
Mutamizh Mandram but the entireresidents of the township. As an ardent
Tamil lover myself, I readily agreed to the proposal by the Mutamizh
Mandram and this dream came true when a shining bronze statue of this
saint was installed in a prime location in the township.

35. Professional Institutions


BHEL Trichy fostered a culture of promoting professional institutions. Among
these institutions, IIW had the distinction of having the largest numbers and
crowded activitiescalendar. Trichy Branch was the most active one in the
Country. Every chief executive took keen interest in IIW.One is reminded of
the contribution of Sri SK Majumdar. When IIW was being started, Sri
Majumdar went around telling people ‘Pathu Rooba kudu’ to enrol
themselves as members. It’s a tribute to IIW’s organizing excellence that an

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international welding seminar could be successfully conducted even in a far-
away place like New Delhi. The dedicated work of Sri Natarajan as the
person in charge of IIW office and Kannappan,Ashok Seshadri and other past
Secretaries.Other Institutions dedicated to Plant Engineering, Industrial
Engineering, Accounting& Finance, Metals &Metallurgy,and Quality and
Institution of Engineers were also had busy yearly calendars.

36. BHEL Board’s immense confidence on Trichy


I had taken 10 of our senior executives (GMs and AGMs) to Delhi to give
clarifications on our proposed 150 crore expansion program. We were all
waiting to be called by the board. Finally, the call came but asking only me
to come. I was asked only 2 questions – one on the quantum of expenditure
proposed and the other on the time horizon. I assured that everything would
be done as per the plans made. There were no more questions. The proposal
was accepted in-toto all in 10 minutes – Perhaps the fastest approval for
such a massive expansion program.
We worked hard to live up to the Board’s expectation. V.S Ananthraman, in
addition to LRP, medical and Civil was guiding thehigh-power group
consisting of KC, S Gopi, Raja Manohar and SR Mani exclusively drafted in
for the expansion scheme.Task force groups were made for every
equipmentto include members from shops, M&S, Inspection, Planning,
Modernization and Finance to ensure the success of the expansion
program.Through this task-force arrangement, all possible outside
interference was eliminated. There was a40-crore saving and the completion
was ahead of schedule – A terrific job indeed, unheard of in the annals of
public sector. In fact, we had to record the reasons to explain to the
Corporate Office howsuch huge saving was made!

37. Sports Activities


37.1 National Volley-Ball Tournament
Organising a National volleyball event was a big challenge and BHEL was
equal to it. For that, a separate stadium was constructed to accommodate
40,000 people at a time. The tournament was a big success thanks to the
special interest taken by VRD. It may be of interest to know our badminton
idol P.V. Sindhu’s father had participated in the tournament.

37.2 First Asian Grandmaster Chess Tourney

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Some of us Chess enthusiasts were overjoyed when ED Sri VRD called us
and announced that BHEL Trichy would be organizing the first ever Asian
Grandmaster Chess Tournament. With the help of Mr. Manuel Aaron of
Tamilnadu Chess association, we got into the job to make it a grand affair.
Antony Durai and I went to meet Dr. Mahalingam in Pollachi. Chess was not
as popular then as it is today. As the main coordinator for this massive
event along with Mr. V.G Jagannath. we had several challenges to face. With
the help of enthusiasts like Mr. Suriyanarayanan, Mr. Srinivasan of C&I and
Mr. Nataraja Mohan, we used the IIW office as our headquarters and
planned the events. The grand inauguration ceremony included a mock war
display by RSK students dressed as various chess pieces and T.D
Subbarayon in Sivaji style conducting the war. We also organized several
events like photographic exhibitions, film shows, cultural programs in the
Community Centre and instant display of matches at Paul’s corner in Mt.
Road, Chennai through our limited EDP resources. The tourney was a
resounding success in creating an interest in Chess. We understand that
world chess champion Viswanathan Anand as a small boy had come to see
the Tourney

37.3 Ranji trophy comes to BHEL


Thanks to the support by Sri K Ramakrishnan, Ranji trophy cricket came to
BHEL CC grounds. A new turf pitch was laid for the Tamilnadu-Andhra
match. To the delight of the crowd, Kris Srikanth scored a magnificent
century for Tamilnadu. One must remember the efforts of Sri
Krishnamoorthy of Gas Plant and other cricket enthusiasts for making this
event a great success.

37.4 Night-Shift in Kailasapuram Club


Once, RK, Salam and I were playing billiards in KC well past 2 p.m. Suddenly
a posse of security personnel showed up. They were looking for someone
who had given a call to the Club Secretary’s house. As night calls to the
house were being monitored by the Telephone Exchange because of an
ongoing spate of crank calls, the exchange had informed security and hence
their presence. On enquiry it was found that a club boy wanted to complain
about the extended stay of members in the cards and games room. The next
day, the Club president issued a circular saying that the club was to be
closed at 10.30 in the night.

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37.5 Other Sports Activities
RSK was a sports enthusiast. He had set the tone and momentum for the
sports activities in BHEL. Interestingly, one of the questions he had put to
me in my GA interview was about the relative importance of the positions of
players in a hockey match.
Largely because of the enthusiasm Of Mr. Premraj, BHEL basketball team
developed into a fine unit. N. Chandrasekaran, Livingston, G Venkataraman,
K Vasudevan, Varghese John R.Sundararaman and Nagaraj were the other
enthusiasts.
Inter-departmental games were regular. Cricket was very popular. Some of
the names that come to my mind are those of N. Shankar, Padmanabhan,
Ashok Seshadri, N Natarajan, RS Babu,SNS Kurup. S.Krishnamurthy,
Vasudevan. The presence of MKS in the nets to enthuse Cricket lovers.
Shankar was vocal about his prodigious swing movement.
S. Nazeer was the ‘Theeradha Vilayattu Pillai’. After regular workout in
cricket and hockey, he would come to play shuttle afterwards. Dominick was
the best badminton player in the township. Sudhir, Salaam, Dhananjeyadu
and myself used to occupy the badminton court for long hours.
RS Babu and Sathyanarayan used to play table-tennis with such feverish
speed that we couldn’t even follow the ball.
Sudhir, Nazeer, Srinivasan, Vellachamy and Dexter were some of the good
hockey players. We had a reasonably good Hockey and Football teams.
Besides Rummy, Bridge tables used to be fully occupied with such stalwarts
like Sasamka Babu, Srinivasulu, Anthony Durai and Suriyanarayanan among
others. Thanks to Dr. Ramprasad’s efforts bi-annual RSK Bridge tournament
became a popular affair.
It was said that Sri KP Rajkumar was a member of the Indian team for
International Swimming contests.
Suriyanarayanan, who used to be a good Billiards, chess and Bridge player is
now the Secretary of Tamilnadu Bridge Association.
Raghunath, Chella Durai and Deepak were some of the good tennis players.
Abdul Wadoot in football, Chinnapayal in long-distance running and Durairaj
in weight-lifting are the names of the athletes coming to my mind.

38. Padmanabhaiyya – GM IC/ HydPasses Away in Trichy


GH
Very early morning telephone calls makeme nervous and jittery as more
often than not they brought unpleasant news.

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One such callwas from the Kaveri guest house to inform me that Sri
Padmanabhaiyya – GM in charge of Hyderabad unit was found dead in the
guest house bathroom following a heart attack. I was stunned and shocked.
Sri Padmanabhaiyya had come to Trichy for conducting DGM promotion
interviews. I had seen him all hale and hearty just the previous night. We
informed his family members, corporate office and BHEL Hyderabad. It took
quite some time for us to get the clearance from his wife and family to move
his body by air after embalming.
Embalming was done in the Tanjore Govt hospital. The sad and pathetic
sight of the chief of BHEL Hyderabad lying in the hospital aroused in me
quite a number of metaphysical and philosophic questions and reminded me
of my own mortality. I also remembered Mr. Puttannas quote from
Purandaradasa “Allide nam mane, Illide summane bande”.
Sundaram of inspection department was there the whole time with me from
Trichy to Chennai and also to Hyderabad and was of immense help. It was a
day I wanted to forget.

39. VRD’s humane touch


MRG once told me a touching story of how when he was in the USA, his
mother had breathed her last and he could not immediately come to India
before the last rites in 1978. He was naturally feeling bad. When VRD
happened to be there in the USA, he made it a point to meet MRG and spend
quite some time consoling him. This had left a deep impression on MRG and
he was forever grateful for the gesture.

40. Conference Hall Pyrotechniques


People who had worked with A. Subramaniam used to say that during
important discussions, AS would play the devil’s advocate role just to
provoke the participants and make them come out with convincing
arguments. He would then give his final decision, which invariably used to be
the right one.

41. Arivalayam- A Symbol of Love and Compassion


Arivalayam as its logo suggests, gives a helping hand for the upliftment
ofdifferently-abled children, bringing light into their lives. All the Senior
Officials ofBHEL and their spouses took keeninterest in thousandpopulation.
I had the personal satisfaction of securing a substantial Central Govt grant
with the help of Corporate Personnel which was a boon to Arivalayam.

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42. Grass isLUSH green on the Township side
Those of us who lived in the township for many years, and now staying in
concrete jungles, are nostalgic about every aspect of township life. Safety
and Security for women and children, proximity to hospital, medical
facilities, schools, clubs, clean water, lush greenery, un-interrupted power,
facilities for various games and sports, an unpolluted environment, facilities
for long walks, gardens& parks and other comforts are just unthinkable for
urban dwellers. Music, Dance, Sportsand Cultural activities kept
Kailasapuram Club and Community Centre busy round the year

43. Rockfort Temple Bell Chimes Again


An iconic landmark of Trichy – The Rockfort temple has a 2.5 tonne temple
bell which used to chime every day from 1918. It went silent in 1997
because of a 50 mm long and 200 mm wide crack. BHEL agreed to the
request of the temple to restore the bell to its original glory. As the bell
could not be moved out of the belfry, the repair welding, heat treatment and
NDT had to be carried out in a narrow confined space. An in-situ built
furnace was used to maintain job temp of 500 deg centigrade. Using special
electrodes,repair was carried out round-the-clock for 3 days. NDT tests were
made to ensure that the bell regained its original chime. The clapper of the
bell was also replaced with a new one. Every time we hear the peals of the
bells, we from BHEL are proud of our contribution.

44. Not Dime A Dozen


12 of us made up the second batch of Graduate Apprentices. 4 of them are
no more today - MP Premraj, Chandramouli, Jagadesan and Dhananjeyudu.
Prem had the kind of visibility nobody would miss. When I first met him
during the BHEL interview, I knew that he was the No.1 contender for the
job. He was a university and state basketballer. Along with Mr.
Govindarajan, A.S/PE, Prem built up a formidable basketball team, which for
many years remained the No.1 team in Trichy. Prem was a hard worker and
a hard task-master. Whenever there was electro-slag welding or four-roll
plate bending, which invariably used to be at mid-night or early morning, he
would make me come to the shops. He was a natural leader and wanted to
be the first among equals. Once, when he was asked what he would like to
be in BHEL, he pointed to the EDs chair and said he would like to sit there.

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He left BHEL rather reluctantly upon his transfer to OP&C and went to
Singapore where he made it big.
Chandramouli was a university ranker – very intelligent and analytical. His
contribution to make FES a strong group is still remembered. He did a
splendid job in getting the R&M contract in Malaysia. During our training
period, I used to be his partner for solving mathematical puzzles and quizzes
which we used to do even while walking. I remember once that as we were
nearing north gate, busy with our puzzles, we saw Works Manager Mr.
Belliyappa’s black Ambassador coming out of Township. It was already 8.15
AM and we knew Mr. Belliyappa’s strict penchant for punctuality. Both of us
promptly took the road from north gate around BHEL compound wall to
building 24 to escape from him. Chandramouli was a General Manager when
he resigned to join his friend N Chandrashekaran’s business.
Jagadesan had a Master’s degree from Kharagpur. He opted for a career in
Engineering. He was the one from our batch to ask questions. We used to
wonder if he was more interested in asking questions or getting answers. His
was an untimely death.
Dhananjeyudu had worked for a year in a private firm in Hyderabad and had
a better knowledge of production than others in our batch. He was a keen
bridge player, and along with Salaam, Kothandaraman and myself, we made
a good team. Dhananjeyudu was more like a rolling stone, jumping from
company to company but then, he had gathered enough moss to be a
valuable employee.
All the four were excellent people and assets to any organization. I can’t
believe they are no more. May their souls rest in peace.
R Subramanian was the first to leave BHEL Trichy to join L&T Vasudevan
was a university ranker. After having made outstanding contributions to
computerization in BHEL he left for Australia. Salaam, was a General
Manager, when he took up an assignment in Saudi Arabia. Venkatraman
took voluntary retirement when he was chief of vigilance. Kondandaraman
left to manage his own business. R Natarajan, N Natarajan and I were the
only 3 of our batch to complete the full tenure.

45. Last but Not the Least.


ED`s office is the face of BHEL Trichy`s Organisational Culture. The task of
keeping its image high is with the Office Staff. I was lucky to have excellent
people in ED`s Office. Varadarajan who managed the Office and

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Padmanabhan and Rathinam who helped him, As GM also I had late Jayapal,
an outstanding PA. I remember these fine people with gratitude.

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Chapter-5
The leaders of men

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Section -1
Introduction

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“Executive Director” as CEO of the complex has a critical role to play. In a
partly patriarchal mode of management that was in vogue in the beginning,
EDs were demi-Gods ! Thus ED’s was a leadership role that mattered; one
where the incumbent could make a mark. Tiruchy was lucky to have a
succession of EDs, who played key roles in shaping the Organisation, carried
the team along & often also succeeded in living a ’dream’. We received brief
pieces from most of the EDs,whom we approached. Going thru’ them, will
provide a flavour of the evolving Tiruchy story ….

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Section -2 SVSR
S V S Raghavan though did not
become an ED, held leadership
role,including Chairman BHEL.
VK & SVSR duo was an
unbeatable team when they
were both in Tiruchy.

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My sojourn at BHEL Trichy.

I was posted as DFA at BHEL, Trichy sometime in 1963 . I was working as


Joint controller at C.D.A Meerut where I just joined on a transfer from the
position of undersecretary at Min. Of Finance (Defence). I welcomed the
posting as my father was ailing at an age of 85 and I happened to be the
only son.
At that time there was any hardly pucca building in BHEL. All of us worked in
barracks. A series of thatched tilted roof hutments. We had a very dynamic
General Manager MR. R.S.Krishnan who also had come from Rlys.

All of us lived in Tiruchirapalli. As there were no houses at the worksite in


BHEL.The route from Tiruchy was lined on both sides with verdant green
rice fields till the eyes could see.A four lane highway was laid as a route to
Tanjore. I remember that I suggested to the top functionaries to make it six
lane, as the traffic was bound to pick up when BHEL starts full production. Of
course it was turned down as they thought I was mad as there was hardly
any traffic at that time.

The atmosphere was very cordial among the senior functionaries Mr.
Krishnan used to call me “Hey”. I became the FA when Mr.Venugopal my
predecessor left.

At that time the FA was reporting directly to Min of Finance through a


memograph called the quarterly financial review. He was not answerable to
the Gen. Manager,nor to the Board, nor even to the Industry Ministry, but
only to the Finance Ministry. That made him as powerful as the GM.. He
could block any proposal. It is then that I realised that the ship can have
only one captain. The Finance Dept. Started working as a member of a team
It was a joy to work with Sridhar, Hakim. Jayachandran and other
executives It was this teamwork which made Tiruchy the first profitable unit
in BHEL. Not only that. The entire financial system was implemented in BHEL
as a whole when I become Finance Director. A Management Information
system was introduced which transformed Data into information and got
broadcasted as a feed back to all executives as news and not history. As an
interesting aside: I used to visit all 3000 houses in the township every
Sunday morning in turn, and found out from the Housewives about their
grievances about maintenance, water supply etc and told the civil

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supervisors that their performance would be assessed on the basis of these
reports. Ours became one of the model townships.

I must pay a tribute to all the executives who worked with me shoulder to
shoulder at that time. Krishnan,Chakrapani, NK Balasubramanian
Krishnamurthys and others who made my tenure at Tiruchy pleasurable.

Raghavan

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Section -3
MK Sridhar

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MK Sridhar

20 GOLDEN YEARS WITH BHEL,TRICHYPhase 1.Destiny’s hand in bringing

me to BHEL,Trichy Looking back at the outset I must say a series of external


decisions / events guided by destiny ( or god’s will) enabled me to associate
with and enjoy working in BHEL ,Trichy for 20 years and in corporate office
for 3 years .I will take a few minutes to describe how destiny guided itI
graduated from Mysore university in 1955 in Mechanical engineering and
joined the prestigious Indian Institute of science for PG research in Internal
combustion engines. I discontinued after about 15 months as the then
Hindusthan steel under ministry of Iron and steel formed by Pandit Nehru (
make in India !!) started recruiting fresh engg graduates to be 1.Trained
abroad 2.To be employed in the then 350-850 rs grade (equal to IAS officers
starting grade , considered the best for a fresh engg graduate and
incidentally both of which increased the value in marriage market !!).

After getting selected in 1957,I had to spend a year in USA at Gary steel
plant(Mr K.Ramakrishnan also joined after a few months) .A series of
decisions taken by Hindusthan steel mgmt, perhaps influenced by destiny
enabled me to spend the 20 golden years in BHEL,trichy. Here they are

1. Initially I was posted for rolling mills operation but just before going to
USA was changed to machine shop and plant maintenance

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2. I was posted to HSL Rourkela before going to USA, but was changed to
HSL Durgapur in the last minute to HSL Durgapur.

3. These two changes which perhaps is due to destiny’s hand enabled me to


work under late Mr RSK for about 4 years at Durgapur and which helped me
to come to Trichy. But for these two changes by HSL, I would not have
come into contact with Mr RSK and not fortunate to work in BHEL, Trichy.
Mr RSK had a stint of 4 years in HSL Durgapur as Chief mechanical
engineer to whom my department machine shop reported and I had the
pleasure of him overseeing our work. He then joined as CEO,Trichy unit of
the then HEIL in 1963. Around that time my father in Bangalore became
very sick and in those days travelling to Bangalore from Durgapur was a
herculean task to attend to him, involving 72 hours journey and also very
difficult to get train tickets at short notice . I requested Mr RSK to help me
for a posting in trichy in any grade, as Bangalore was just an overnight
journey from trichy and I could attend to my father over week ends .Mr RSK
was gracious and again by destiny, it so happened he was thinking of
setting up a post of assistant supdt for the workshop in trg centre at the
same time( Mrs RSK also influenced Mr RSK to help me).That is how I came
to BHEL,Trichy and my self and my late parents have to be ever grateful to
Mr and Mrs RSK

Phase 2. Golden years in BHEL, Trichy 1964-1981

2.a After joining in 1964 april,I spent a year and half in training centre
where it was a pleasure to interact with first batch of GA’s –
RK,GRK,Balakrishnan,Bhat,Kudva,Pattabhi ,P.L.Ramanathan etc. Then when
plant operation started mr RSK transferred me to machine shop for a year
and later when Mr G.S.Sane from valve shop went for training in
administrative college in hyd’bad and a long leave home ,was asked to
oversee valves operations for 6 months or so.

2.b In 1966 a series of organisational changes including creation of


Industrial engg dept and several transfers enabled me to move to medium
and light fab and 4 years later in 1971 was asked to oversee heavy fab also.
This again gave me the pleasure of associating with most of the 1st batch
graduate engineers who were posted there. It was also a pleasure to work

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along with late K.Raghavan, G.Etiraj, Thanekar, S.N.Krishna (,who worked
more and talked less,kanagavel ,S.Guruswamy and dedicated supervisors
(can remember a few only)-narayana pillai,K.Paul, Tharathu,Narayanan
nair,Shankaran Kutty, Kurup, Ravindran, Selvaraj,Mohammed rowther etc
who all worked with tremendous enthusiasm to achieve targets .Whole
hearted co operation also came from the then inspection dept-
V.G.Jagannath, A.Srinivasulu , Pandala of NDT etc to maintain desired
quality.

2.c Again during 1973. 1974 and 1976 destiny enabled me to climb up in
the organisation ladder by creating new vacancies above like 1.The then
works manager Mr Ketkar was called back by railways ,my seniors late Mr
Sane resigned and late Mr Nagappa unfortunately fell sick .2.Organisational
changes initiated by VK as CMD ,by forming PPD Madras created new
vacancies with Mr P.V.K.Achan moving to Chennai as PPD chief , creating
vacancy of DGM in trichy (Mr VRD moved up as GM ) and 3.Later upgrading
CEO’s post to ED’s in addition to having GM’s posts. This period from 1973
to 1979 added tremendous experience to me overseeing almost all
functions except finance and administration and enjoying interaction with
large number of executives in various functions-MM,QA,Design R and D,HR
(then called IR), besides mfg .Of curse I had to learn to live with frequent
tool downs.
Phase

3. In Libya

3.a 1979 proved to be a tough and difficult year to me ,when all of a sudden
in February without any previous indication ,overnight I was asked by CMD
Warrier to go as OSD (first and only time in BHEL history that designation
used) to Tripoli west project which was lagging behind and Libyan Govt had
strongly complained to minister for Industries George Fernandez. I had no
field experience and there were many with that experience in BHEL as a
whole. I was just told to speed up project and get the plant commissioned
fast and had to take decisions without emabarassing late Mr Hakim as we
were both in same grade. There were no clear instructions fromCMD’s office
as to my role vis a vis Mr Hakim’s role. Mr Hakim practically left everything
to me and took no interest after my posting.From dictator ruled Libya very
little communication excisted with rest of world and zero with India-no

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phone calls possible and even telex possible only thro’ BHEL London office.
Communication between site and Delhi office of Libya project was practically
zero to provide needed timely and correct vast inputs for a turnkey project
to site for enabling smooth progress-man power, eqpt supplies-BHEL/Non
BHEL, technical inputs by way of erection drawings etc. I had to get that
done by travelling every fortnight to and fro between Tripoli and Delhi via
Rome or Frankfurt. When at site I had to plan and schedule as many
activities as possible in parallel paths, mobilise site resources and monitor
regularly.

Working environment in Libya was scary.There was absolutely no English in


Libya and for every local activity we had to depend on a translator who was
available at his own convenient time .There was military dictatorship and a
powerful police in Tripoli who could come suddenly and arrest any one
without giving any reason and speaking only in Arabic. Several of our
employees including from sub contractors were arrested for reasons not told
to us and we had hard time ,getting them released with the help of
translator. One was not sure whether our employees would be allowed to
enter or leave tripoly even with valid entry and exit visas. A case I
remember was that of our Mr E.S.Sivan who had lost his daughter, but was
not allowed to go to India immediately Port clearance was another tough
task in Libya and it was the ingenuity of an ex Trichy executive Mr
Paulswamy which enabled smooth clearance.The site staff engineers,
supervisors and working staff were from all BHEL units and moulding them
as a team was tough. An engineer from trichy had to get work done by a
team from hardwar/ Bhopal. Site employees were completely cut off from
families as letters used to take their own time from India. All of them were
handing over letters to their families to me whenever they came to know I
was flying back to Delhi to be posted to their families in Delhi office. It used
to fill half of my hand baggage as there was no other means of their
communicating with family.

With my up and down travel to ensure proper and needed inputs to site as
courier ,we speeded up site work, posting of Mr B.R.Oberoi at site ( Mr
Hakim was transferred to Malyasia) in December 1979 gave further impetus
and half of my burden got reduced. Finally in April 1980, 14 months after I
was asked unit one got commissioned and 3 months later unit 2.

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3b. With completion of Tripoli contract and with no other major overseas
business ,I was given a vague designation of ED Facilities and co ordination
based in Delhi by Mr Warrier. My only task was whenever a customer
complained directly to CMD Mr Warrier to visit Indian sites along with
concerned unit personnel and get the complaint resolved

Phase 4

Journey as ED in BHEL Trichy 1981-84 .

With Mr K.L.Puri taking over as CMD, followed by a series of external events


not connected with me, brought me back as ED trichy in march 1981 and
lasted till January 1984.Most of what happened during that period ,I have
already described in detail in the write up OVRVIEW ,but as desired by Mr
Sudhir I will briefly describe here from point of view of my kahani.

4a.Mr KLP had directed me while posting, that customer complaints are very
high ,they are losing confidence on us and he and industry ministry are
under tremendous criticism and pressure from power ministry to permit
imports and some thing must be done to instil confidencein them.

4.b Besides my own conscience told me that since customers have to come
to only BHEL for the equipments and since country is depending solely on
BHEL to generate much needed power, Trichy unit’s responsibility should not
end up with supply of equipment ,showing profits and close it’s eyes ,but
extend beyond that by ensuring (a)speedy and timely commissioning of
plant along with PPD’s and (b)ensure much needed power generation in the
country commensurate with installed MW capacity by improving plant load
factorto about 60 to 70% from excisting 30 to 40%.I could concentrate most
of my time on these two tasks since

4.c. Marketing did not require much efforts as except NTPC all other
customers had no option but come to BHEL in view of import restrictions.
Estimating and price bidding was ably done by P.Ramaswamy of comm’l
dept under Mr VSC’s guidance and final price was mostly settled at
corporate office and a committee set up by GOI

4d.Plant operations was ably handled by Mr

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K.Ramakrishnan,Ranipetconstruction by Mr ESC and finance and
administration by Mr VSC.

4e.This enabled me to concentrate on the above two tasks and building


customer confidence on BHEL Trichy.How it was carried out and
customerconfidenceimproved is described in detail in my write up
OVERVIEW/GLIMPSES OF BHEL HISTORY ,chief architects in carrying it out
being-S.Sridharan,A.VNarayanan
,A.Subramanyam,S.Ranganathan,Usman,A.K.B.Lakshmanan etc in improving
PLF ,Mr V.S.Chakrapani for concurring free supply of redesigned
components and carrying out modifications free of cost in excisting power
plants and Mr T.Krishnamachari of comm’l for co-ordination and
understanding with PPD to work out a sequence of supplies for each site
and ensure speedy,uninterrupted erection of boilers. As a result of these
efforts plant outages came down, generation improved (PLF 60-70 from 30 -
40%),erection time came down and customer satisfaction improved vastly. I
must also mention here names of late Mr N.Tata Rao,Mr M.L.Shishoo of
NTPC,L.R.Suri of CEA etc who besides criticising us openly ,encouraged us
also in this task giving their suggestions.

4f.another significant change instituted during my stint as ED was internal


evaluation of monthly performance. While for billing and cash collection
monthly production/despatches were calculated on average rate per ton
despatched based on contract price irrespective of despatch mix ,for internal
evaluation of how well unit has performed, rate per ton was broken to rate
for pressure part, non pressure part and rotating machines since both
material and labour/overhead costs are different for these three .For
internal analysis monthly performance was evaluated applying these rates
for despatch mix and corrective action was taken regularly to ensure proper
mix.

4g.I cannot just project plus poinst only. One minus point to be mentioned
during my period as ED was my inability to stop the frequent tool down
strikes inspite of best efforts made along with late Mr S.Varadarajan, DGM
personnel.

5.Kahani in BHEL Corpoffice 1984-87 My stint with BHEL trichy came to an


end in January 1984 when Mr Puri on retirement of Mr T.V.Balakrishnan

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asked me to move over to Delhi and with great reluctance I had to accept it.
One of my task here also was again to improve customer confidence, this
time reg Russian design Turbo generators mfd at Hardawar having high
outages which got solved with Russian assistance.
My upgradation to Delhi did not make any change in my emoluments which
remained same as ED and stagnant with no annual increments eitherover 3
years.With high cost of living in delhi compared to trichy and my bank
balance remaining almost stagnant,I could not resist monetaryattraction of
private sector when thoughts of planning for a reasonably comfortable
retired life came to mind. Hence in 1987 after 3 years in corporate office and
20 years in Trichy I bid good bye to BHEL quite reluctantly. Though
monetary benefits and perks were better than BHEL ,job satisfaction in the
private sector was no where near what I had in BHEL,trichy.

6.Before closing this write up I will be failing if do not mention the whole
hearted support and unstinted co operation by all employees of Trichy ,I got
as ED, right down from GMs to E1 grade executes, all levels of supervisors,
skilled and unskilled workers, office staff, clerical staff ,Security,Medical and
Town ship staff (to keep employees free from family worries while at work)
and last but not least the two well known ED’s office PS’s .Executives and
supervisors were willing to stay well beyond stipulated hrs if needed, willing
to work on Sundays ,willing to work in Trichy’s hot weather without
grumbling when fans had to be switched off due to frequent power cuts etc..
My shoutings in meetings or over phone were listened calmly ,taken perhaps
with a sense of humour –chaltha hai chalne do Lastly my thanks to Mr
Sudhir for enabling me to travel back in time over 60 years in time machine
by requesting for this write up .

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Section -4
ESChandrasekar

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NOTE ON MY EXPERIENCE AS
ED TIRUCHY

Setting up of the ranipet plant was


one of the major activities in my
period about which I have already
sent a separate note. Some of the
other activities of interest during
my tenure are”

1. Expansion of high pressure boiler


plant to 4000 MW equiv.This
comprised of ordering special
purpose machines and associated
civil works to enhance the
manufacturing capacity to 4000 MW
in equiv production tonnage. This
also enhanced the manufacturing
capability to manufacture 500 MW boiler components both in terms of the
individual components as well as the total capacity.One of the specialised
components of the 500 MW boiler was the boiler drum. From a consideration
of its size and thickness, it was found necessary to hot press the drum plate
of thickness (fig to be introduced) instead of hot rolling as was hitherto
adopted upto 220 MW boilers. A global tender was issued for a press capable
of handling plate’s upto (xxxmms) thickness and (xxxxft long) so that boiler
drums for the 500 MW boiler drums and beyond can be taken up.A team
comprising of specialists visited the works of leading manufacturers of the
press in various countries including in japan, Germany, UK and USA and held
discussions to finalise the parameters of the press which formed the basis
for the final procurement of the press. After elaborate discussions with the
manufacturers the press was bought from firm in Germany that proved to
contributing to the successful production of boiler drums for the 500 MW
boilers then and possibly for the following capacities thereafter.Another
notable equipment was the EOT crane of capacity (to fill up) and for a 30
Meter span which was bought indigenously. All the civil works were carried
out in house engaging suitable contractors which helped in meeting both
costs and time schedules.

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2. A beginning was made during my period for the start up of BIM
(Bharatidasan Institute of Management ) and was even inaugurated by Mr P.
Chidambaram, the then finance minister The fist batch of students were
admitted later. This can be elaborated by someone connected with it like Mr
Pyarlal Arya who was the first Director nominated by BHEL.

3. A major industrial strike was organised in the y ear (to be filled in) by the
trade unions led by CITU, DMK as well as supervisors forum. I do not
remember the cause of the strike which can be filled by someone in the
knowledge of it. The striking employees came in a procession to the main
building (building no 24) and even smashed front glasses and hurt people
which necessitated bringing in of police inside the campus. After a few
violent incidents, the situation was brought under control. As a result, 3
persons from the DMK union, 5 from CITU and 2 from the supervisors forum
were suspended. After protracted discussions, they were reinstated marking
the end of the confrontation.

4. Time punching of attendance was introduced during my period which was


necessitated to bring in uniformity amongst all sections of the employees.
This was fought in the court by Officers” union in new delhi but was
subsequently retained to continue.

5. A programme of meeting of the minds was started in order to bring in a


culture of participation of all sections of employees in decision making which
was being talked about then as a beginning of this culture. Regular meeting
of various sections of employees was held in the management development
hall wherein it was participated by senior executives responsible fo decision
making. The company’s long range plans as well as it on going
performance were discussed and shared. G.L.Ethiraj, who was then in
charge of the personnel department (it was then called by this name) can
elaborate further.

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Section -5
K Ramakrishnan

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K Ramakrishnan
BHEL TRICHY STORY

It was my bachelor life in Durgapur


in the 60s. Four of my colleagues,
all Tamilians, were having a mess.
Into it walked Mr.R.S.Krishnan and
his wife one evening for dinner
without any prior intimation.(He
was the Chief Mechanical Engineer
of Durgapur Steel Plant before he
moved to Trichy).). They wanted to
surprise us. Such was the type of
social friendship we were used to in
that Township. So when I shifted to
BHEL Trichy in 1975, apprehensions
were plenty in all of us in the family
both about the job and about the
social life. Within a short time, however, we felt completely at home thanks
to the friendly genuine comradeship exhibited by everyone, be it in the office
or outside. Everyone went out of the way to make me feel comfortable and
treat me as one of them. Many times I felt embarrassed by the
overwhelming respect exhibited by junior officers and staff. It dawned on me
then that here lies the strength of BHEL Trichy and the cause of its
greatness.

The compact township with all amenities, the places of worship, the schools,
the park – all created a serene atmosphere for the residents to enjoy. The
Hospital , in the hands of competent doctors, was a boon to the employees
and their families. Cultural events in the community centre and the
Kailasapuram Club took care of recreation. Residents had to be satisfied with
BHELELEC Theatre, however Trichy town was not far off and was well
connected by town buses.

At the time I joined BHEL Trichy, the unit was celebrating its 10 year
completion with the striking hands symbol erected as a novel landmark.
New technologies were being absorbed, new products were being
manufactured , computerisation was in full swing and we had to part with

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some products with pain..The nasty bus loco accident near RPS stores was a
tragic event with loss of life, waking us up on safety aspects. The
unprecedented floods in Trichy brought out our awareness to our social
responsibilities to the society.. Long before the slogan ‘corporate social
responsibility’ started ringing, our unit was very active in helping
neighbouring villages and hamlets. I still vividly remember our
commissioning solar street lights and a windmill project in a remote village
where the uneducated women folk , during the function, started abusing the
collector for not having done anything for the village all these years and now
showing up for taking credit.!.Dr.Vasudevan and his team brought glory to
the unit with the commissioning of the fluidised bed boiler demonstration
plant. .Lot of efforts were being taken for developing managerial cadre with
management courses like MBO and Quality Circles being conducted.

Helping Bharathidasan University in starting Bharathidasan Institute of


Management was a strategic move for BHEL, Well appreciated by
academicians and Industry, BIM, under competent management grew up
fast and earned a name for itself and boosted the image of BHEL Trichy.

With the advent of the Ranipet unit, opportunities came for our executives to
take higher responsibilities and advancing their careers. With BHEL
extending all out support, many brifght engineers moved out to become
entrepreneurs setting up ancillary units in Ranipet. This was a major
difference between Trichy and Ranipet..At Trichy developing the technical
competence in the ancillary industries and bring them to the work culture of
the Boiler Plant was a major task. At times there were frictions when
subcontracting load came down.However overall the ancillaries units
became, over the years, a source of strength for the unit.

The biggest strength for Trichy unit was its employees, especially the
budding engineers. Their love for the plant and their enthusiasm in work was
contagious and kept the performance level high. However when the unit was
building a core group of excellent engineers for future leadership, quite a
few of them including those who went to start ancillaries in Ranipet resigned
and left. With subsequent corporate curbs in manpower recruitment , Trichy
went through a period of shortage of skilled managerial talent, The
substantial recruitment of graduate engineers that took place in the mid 70s

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came in handy later. By now performance wise, among all the units, Trichy
was the leader and commanded respect from corporate management.

There were strikes of short duration n the unit without much disturbance.
However one big black mark in the history of our unit labour history was the
unruly mob behaviour of workers marching to the administration building,
smashing window glasses and abusing the Chief Executive. It took some
time for normalcy to come back. This was one rare occasion when the
inadequacy of home grown security force came to light; they were totally
helpless. Otherwise our security set up was a cause of envy for other units.

When I was elevated as the Executive Director of the unit, to go and sit
under the Gita Upadesam murasl in the ED’s office needed courage. It had
been occupied by illustrious personalities who had nurtured the unit and
raised its fame high.I had to convince myself that I had the necessary
wisdom and strength atleast to maintain its status. Fortunately the band of
executives at all levels at that time, encouraged me and gave me their
whole hearted support which enabled me to breath easy and perform. The
labour unions were also very cooperative. That is the culture of Trichy It was
a tough period for the company as a whole. Orders were not forthcoming
and there was a big lull in the power sector .We had to pull in bulk of
subcontracting work into our shops. Spares and services department went
all out to get orders. Special mention should be made of the excellent work
done by the Nuclear Department in completing the manufacture of the first
heavy water steam generator. Under pressure from Cabinet l secretary level
bureaucrats, the whole team toiled without outside help in carrying out
intricate manufacturing processes for the first time. They brought glory to
the unit by meeting a committed schedule. This also helped to attract
Government Defence agencies to entrust highly sophisticated and
confidential defence projects to Trichy. Here again without any experience
and without any outside technical help in any form, the group carried out
their task successfully. They symbolised the spirit of Trichy unit.

It was a pity MHD Project had to be abandoned after successfully


establishing the technology. You could see, when this happened, the pain
and anguish in the eyes of those engineers who had toiled on this. Similar
experience happened in combined cycle demonstration plant. All these had
brought national recognition to the unit in the R&D front.

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Success also brings headaches. Trichy came under pressure to take over sick
public sector undertakings like BHPV,Thungabadra Steel and ABL
Durgapur(which had been taken over by the Power ministry by then).
Fortunately Corporate Management agreed with our view that the time was
not right when power sector as a whole was under strain. Having established
its status as a world class manufacturing unit, it was easy for Trichy to
attract technical cooperation proposals. Existing collaborations were
expanded to cover new fields and new proposals were constantly coming in.
Seamless Steel Tube Plant, after going through a lot of maintenance issues
and teething problems, finally stabilised and achieved its rated capacity.. It
was a challenge well contested and finally conquered.

Special mention should be made of Arivalayam. Ably managed by ladies, it


had gained admiration. To help the students who had grown beyond
schooling, a vocational training centre was started. It was inaugurated by
the President of India. Trichy.Unit engaged some of their students for
telephone cleaning services, while the colourful cotton garlands made by
them welcomed all dignitaries to BHEL premises. When I came to Trichy, I
was an “also ran engineer”. But by the time I left for Delhi to take over as
Director, I had been groomed by the unit to become an efficient manager
capable of taking higher responsibilities and facing challenges confidently.
I can never forget this golden period I spent in BHEL Trichy.

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Section -6
Srinivasulu

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Srinivasulu

My term as ED of Tiruchi Complex.

I had the honour of serving as ED from July


1989 to August 1984. After 1986 most of the
investments in power plants were meant for
Independent Power producers as the Govt.
Policy. IPPs sourced their supplies from
abroad with suppliers credit and there was no
scope for indigenous manufacturers to bid for
such projects. Thro Henry Vogt GE we tried to
supply waste heat boilers;but Enron refused
to source any product from India except bricks and sand. Our licensee BHPV
had been supplying industrial boilers and our re-entry was difficult. We
were late in collaborating with Alstom for CFBC boilers. It was the worst of
times.

We had a press meet at Tiruchi in April 1990 and projected our performance.
The question that if the same trend continues w.r.t order in flow in the next
two years there would not be any order. It was an awakening call and
opened our eyes to the bleak future. We made all out effort to obtain orders
for Industrial boilers. We revised our Pricing Policy of spares to beat some of
the competitors, being ex-BHEL employees. We obtained orders for about
28 armoured recovery vehicle with tie up from a Slovakian company and
other defence and ISRO orders. We got orders for Heat Exchanges from
Reliance, Chambal fertilizes etc. Export orders were executed for CFBC
boilers of Alstom and Oil Field Equipments to Indonesia. Efforts were made
to diversity into wind electrics, and Desalination plants. While quoting for
power boilers we took steps to control quoted prices of sister units for
composite orders and in this regard the then Director/Power Mr. D.
Sreeramamoorthy was very helpful. While quoting for boiler efficiency and
auxilliary power consumption, Mr. A.V. Narayanan used to review all the
past performance test results and our figures were always competitive. With
the cooperation of all the colleagues we were able ensure that value added
and profit figures showed upward trend and by the end of 1993 our annual
turnover was more than Rs 1000 crores and we regained our status.

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We could have done letter but for the policy of corporate management not to
quote/supply some of our products like variable pitch fans, Air heaters, HP-
LP bypass systems, Safety valves, Soot blowers, Piping and valves. The then
corporate management was not helping us to enter into new areas like
Korex Steel Plants.

NPC(Nuclear Power Corporation) agreed to finance the second cross deep


hole drilling machine at Tiruchi. The then CMD asked us to hand over the
files and later ordered the cross m/c to be installed in Haridwar unit; but
NPC refused to finance the project. Similar thing happened with machining
centre for Light combat Aircraft I am only stating these incidents to share
the hard times.

Life extension services and upgrading of old power plants provided us scope
for growth. We used to quote very low figure for life assessment studies so
that we get the order for components supply. We executed many orders for
life extension, uprating, fuel conversion and we executed the same for all
power boilers supplied to Malaysia.

Every site used to complain about delays in supply of valves. Our proposal
for replacing of certain old machines involving about Rs. 25/- crores was
pending. However when Mr. Gavi Siddappa visited the plant in 1990 he
approved our proposal. We installed dedicated CNC machining Centers and
were able to meet all delivery schedules for valves.

Owing to the inflexible attitude of the then CMD, the collaboration


agreement with CE could not be renewed particulary for once thro boilers
inspite of our requests. It was a big set back and shock to listen to this.
After the change of the then CMD we tried to have tie up for once-thru
boilers.

We could install two spiral fin welding machines at the SSTP to improve
value addition. The Govindwal valves plant had single purpose machines but
no artisans to produce machined components. The plant was assembling the
valves with out-sourced components.As the valves were of low pressone
type the unit was incurring loss. We tried to reduce losses by loading higher
value valves.

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Everybody in the Tiruchi Complex rose to the occasion and was able to
overcome the challenges and regain our eminent status and my thanks to
each one of them thus we were able to with stars the tempest and survive
successfully.

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Section -7
S N Krisha

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S N Krisha

Dear Sudhir,

In response to your emailed reply and to


continue with my narrative, I must say that my
tenure at Tiruchi as the C.E.O. was very short,
just 18-19 months, for me to recount any thing
of significance. Infact there have been more
noteworthy achievements worthy of mention
which took place at BAP, Ranipet, when I was
heading that unit. I have already stated the
achievements on the technical side in my previous email. I will confine
myself to highlight one event in Ranipet related to industrial relations and a
couple of milestones in Tiruchi during my period.

In Ranipet there used to be a gate leading to the Administrative block from


inside the factory in addition to main gates for the factory and the Admin
block. The lunch recesses in the factory and the Admin block had an offset of
half an hour with the factory lunch break starting earlier. It was the practice
of a few employees working inside the factory to go over to the Admin
canteen for lunch and enjoy an extended break by remaining out of sight
while the factory executives scanned the factory canteen where the service
would end earlier, for any loiterers.

To curb this practice, after informing the unions, it was decided to close the
gate leading from inside the factory and accordingly this was carried out by
by removing the gate and bricking over the gap in the wall one Sunday
towards the end of February. It had become a habit for the trade unions in
BAP to precipitate issues in the month of March almost every year as they
knew that the management would not like to compromise on the fulfillment
of the annual fiscal targets. After the above stated gate was closed, the
unions took this up as a prestige issue and resorted to a hunger strike by
some union leaders outside the factory gate,with leaders replacing in relay
fashion those who were removed and dispatched to hospital when they were
examined and found unfit to continue.This strike lasted for a total of 18 days
( reminiscent of the Mahabharat war) supported by intervening tool down

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strikes within the factory,before it was called off due to the intervention of
the state labour officials. The spin off of this action was that industrial
relations in BAP were harmonious from then on.

During the early and mid nineties, when there was a dearth of orders from
the power sector for the Tiruchi unit, an order was accepted for the
manufacture of a large number ( I think there might have been about 40-50,
VKG can confirm the exact number) of heat exchangers and pressure vessels
for the country's biggest petroleum refinery of Reliance at Jamnagar. Since
the delivery targets were quite tight stringent monitoring and reviewing at
the top level with follow up of the progress of manufacture on the shop floor
had to be resorted to. Reliance had posted a representative at Tiruchi for
expediting besides sending their team of project engineers by the private jet
of the Ambanis every month for detailed review. On more than one occasion,
after their review, Sri. V.K.Gopinath, the General Manager for Fossil Boiler
production, had to accompany this team in their aircraft to Mumbai to brief
Mr.Mukesh Ambani in person. He was dropped back at Tiruchi airport the
same night. We were able to execute the order to the satisfaction of the
customer, both in respect of quality and delivery schedule.

While I was at Tiruchi, we were able to achieve substantial progress in the


manufacture of the 500 MW fast breeder reactor for Kalpakam, which posed
quite a few technological challenges. Sris. Ramadurai and CHVRL Sastry
(who I find is on the mailing list) will be able to provide more details on this.

During my period, in 1995 BHEL Tiruchi was awarded the Powerplant Award
instituted by Electric Power International publication of The McGraw Hill
organization. This award was presented to BHEL being the supplier of the
Trombay Power Station of the Tatas, for pioneering combined cycle and
large fossil boiler technology. I had the privilege of personally receiving this
award from the President of McGraw Hill in New York. A photograph of this
event is attached.

This concludes my write up and I do not think I have anything more


worthwhile adding.

S.N.Krishna.

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Section -8
A Subramanian

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Section -9
VK Gopinath

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I graduated in 1965 from REC (now NIT) –
Warangal. Joined BHEL the same year. Mine
has been a unique case of someone joining
BHEL as a GA to spend the entire service life
and retire in the same Unit as its CEO. Not
that it is something to boast about, maybe no
other unit wanted me! I served in Plant
Engineering, Production, Operations and FB
before retiring as ED in 2002.Because of the
terrific team behind me coupled with the
management philosophy of TQM which I had
whole-heartedly internalized, Trichy was
Numero Uno in all aspects of progress –
Production, productivity, industrial peace and customer satisfaction. ERP was
put in place first in Valves to be extended to the entire BHEL. There were
awards and rewards galore. SSTP, for the first time made cash profits. Major
capital expansion in FB and valves were completed within the time-frame
and with 50 crores saving. Because of Trichy’s performance and the
excellent rapport I had with CMD and Directors, It was an easy time for
Trichy in MCMs. Gasifier for CCDP was manufactured and the project was
completed mainly with the help of my M&S colleagues. Industrial problems
were few and far between due to the excellent relationship with trade unions
and their leaders. The review systems developed, left me time for making
life in the township better. A millennium park was opened. BHEL was green
with trees and trees. Tiruvalluvar statue was installed in a prominent place. I
retired satisfied and happy with my association with BHEL and all the
employees. I had a good opportunity to meet many of them and the ex-
chief’s of BHEL -men of consummate energy and talent, thank them and
recall my golden days, during the Leadership Meet at Trichy. I only hope
that I had served BHEL with dignity.

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Section -10
AK Mathur

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Section -11
V Gopalakrishnan

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VGK- Significant Achievements
I. Engg Computer Services
1. Conversion of CE’s Engg. Design programs
to run on local mini computers- 1973-76?

2. Development of Integrated Boiler Program


(1986), ahead of CE, which CE itself wanted
to buy from BHEL.

3. Intro of 2MB leased line for Internet in


BHEL through Software Technology Park,
ahead of rest of Tiruchi – 1997II. R & D
4. Funding of a few crores from USAID for
coal Research in BHEL. Resulting in Setting up of FETF facility, inaugurated
by Sun Chen’s (DOE/USA) visit – 1995/6?
5. Successful completion of Ph.D in coal – inspiration for a few other Ph
Ds in BHEL – 1996?

III. Product Engg -Boilers


6. Introduction of CAD in Prod. Engg (FB) in a big way –1992 - and throwing
out all the drafting boards in stages.

7. Value Engg in Surathgarh Boiler and Introduction of Plus Columns – 1992,


which advanced their dispatch by 6 months and brought down cycle time.

IV. Materials
8. Mill Purchase – for Bakreswar Contract – led a team that strategized to
result in 25 Crores saving – 1996

9. Reorganisation of MM to assign responsibilities better &inventory


reduction from 100 to 60 days -1997?

10. Information to / from Sub-contractors through Internet and introduction


of computer culture to Sub-contractors

V. Assistance to Finance

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11. Income Tax rebate for phase III expansion – 25 Crores Savings – 2000.

12.Excise Duty – Won Court Case in SIGAT - Saving of 35 Crores – ended in


2004?

VI.Quality
13. First application and CII-EXIM award for TQM - 2001?

VII.Interaction with Educational Institutions


14. Starting a PG program on Computer Science at REC, Tiruchi –& Running
it for 4-5 years - early 1980s.

15. SAEIT – a Finishing School at the Township thro’ an MOU with IIT,
Madras to help the employee’s children

As ED
1.Achieving Quarter-wise targets (22% in first Qtr) and closing of books on
31st March 2005-06

2. Leadership Summit – 4th July 2005to prepare Roadmap for fresh


investments and additional manpower for touching 10k Crores

3. Solving a few labour related canteen problems – Ponni rice for lunch (I
am still remembered by the workers only for this)

4. Removing Montford Brothers from RSK School’s management.

PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS:
· Computer program for casting horoscopes & panchang (1979)
· Massive Carnatic Music collections of 1 TB (2006)
· Two Novels so far (2010+)
· Adjunct professor in IIT, Chennai (2014+)

A Story in our own words Page 321


Section -12
Sathya Narayanan

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Sathya narayanan

My Journey as ED and memories:It’s a


great opportunity as CEO of the wonderful
Organisation to share our memories to the
Editorial board which is doing Yeoman
Service to bring out BHEL Journey of
excellence filled with challenges and
problems solved for betterment of
management and technical community. I
thank them before I commence my
assignment.

I would like to recollect briefly the final


part of my journey to assume the office of
executive director BHEL, Trichy. From the
time I took over as head of HR in 1999 and as head of Boiler plant and HR in
2002, my career planning was clearly shaped. I was looking after all major
areas of Trichy and reporting to A.K.Mathur , the then ED of BHEL. This gave
me an opportunity to launch many of our new major initiatives successfully
starting from HR and going up to entire Boiler plant including HR
optimisation through 3 Major VRS implementation, Performance
Management System with Hewitt Associates, leading world HR consultant,
Career path Modelling, Balance Scorecard, Outsourcing noncore activities
and integrated approach towards business excellence to enhance stake
holder value. Finalisation of KRAs for all functions of the organisation as PMS
Chairman across the corporation in Task Force gave the added outlook to
choose outstanding KRAs for each function.

When top management of Trichy was required to occupy key positions at


different locations, I was moved to head BHEL Ranipet as GM and CEO since
late R.S.Babu was moved to Delhi for heading corporate monitoring. Two
more Specialists GMs were moved to Delhi to strengthen power sector.
The major challenges which were faced by me at Ranipet Unit were

1. Move Ranipet from 380 to 1000 crores turnover Unit.


2. To make it an independent major unit away from Trichy.

A Story in our own words Page 323


3. To increase the profitability substantially from 20 crores to 100 crores
plus.
4. Taking Ranipet to leadership in business excellence route for getting
national award as a manufacturing unit.
5. Focus on capacity expansion and In-house R&D.
In 2 years plus, Ranipet achieved all the above and was made an
independent major unit. It became the 6th major manufacturing unit of the
corporation and 5th unit to cross 1000 crores turnover.
In 2004-05, we won the IMC Ramakrishna Bajaj award for Business
Excellence as the best manufacturing unit, first PSU ever to get this award.
In the 2nd year we won best-in-class manufacturing unit through business
excellence at Asia Pacific quality award, again the first PSU and the 2nd
Indian industry to win this award. I was invited to Mexico for sharing the
knowledge, to Vietnam Hanoi for receiving the award and delivering the
acceptance speech and to Iran, Tehran for delivering address in the world
quality conference for business excellence held in Iran Parliament
Auditorium. When I just returned from Tehran, CMD called me to Delhi and
informed me that i will be moving on a transfer as ED Trichy to take charge
with immediate effect.

I Since my term as ED/Trichy was short the Board also appointed me as


advisor and consultant to continue the major initiatives which we launched in
Trichy along with R.N.Misra the next incoming ED, Trichy. About Trichy The
most critical problem of the Trichy complex was the delay in supplying items
(DUs) required for hydro test, light up and synchronisation for the 10th plan
completion requirements. Very few shops manufactured items were affecting
hydro test while piping centre was in super crisis affecting all light ups and
synchronisation schedules with almost 10,000 DUs per month to be supplied
every month till December 2006 to meet the requirements. Secretary power
Sri R.V.Sahi was conducting a meeting every month mostly at Delhi and
occasionally at Chennai or Trichy inviting EDs of all major units and Regions,
PEM & PM along with Director/Power, CMD/NTPC, CEA and All Major EBs. The
meeting used to run for hours pulling up All BHEL Divisions for Delay. Piping
Centre & Piping Supplies became most critical. CMD/NTPC will visit
PC/Chennai regularly for review. This called for major Repositioning,
Restructuring and revisiting the requirements from forecast, design, lay out,
customer and consultant interaction and major integration between PEM,
Customers and PC. Though the nightmare continued for more than 6

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months, we came out with very major initiatives jointly with Power Sector,
PEM & PC and ED/TRICHY which resulted in completely overcoming the crisis
from April 2007 onwards. Presentations made to CMD & D/P and all
proposals were cleared. This included standardising Design, Layout, Variety
Reduction, and Rate Contract for Pipes and Fittings. PC also came out of non
boiler piping supplies of other units to focus on Core Areas of Boiler Piping.
Trichy Shops agreed to manufacture all IBR items inside shop. Similarly
Trichy and PC outsourcing started ordering items with supplier’s materials
which improved considerably.

I Was lucky to be fully involved in finalising Draft Strategic Plan 2007 – 12


for Trichy taking it from 4500 Crores to 10,000 Crores Plus with a triple
jump in PBT Next major focus for us was ordering all machines and
equipments for Phase 1 Expansion Plan taking Trichy Capacity from 4000MW
to 5750MW capacity including deputing experts to China before ordering
critical equipment Another Great opportunity was preparing the plan and
putting up to Board for next Largest Ever Expansion of Trichy Unit from
5750MW to 10,000 involving Rs 750 Crores of Investment. Since I Continued
as Advisor, the final project report was referred to me by our Directors for
my Review and Comments. First time ever this Report was approved in
Board Meeting immediately and cleared for implementation. This also
included a new press since our existing 8000 Tons Press was under major
maintenance.

Another major challenge faced was technology up gradation to design and


manufacture super critical boilers for 660MW and 800MW capacity with
Alsthom Collaboration since Expansion Programme included Super Critical
Boilers of these ratings. Simultaneously we launched initiative thro major
R&D project for our own design for super critical boilers including putting up
a major test rig jointly with IIT Chennai Another major problem faced was
delay in supply of tubes from SSTP due to shut down of both hot mill and
cold mill in first half of year. Quick resorting to Hollow Imports including
from China and working on major modernisation of SSTP expansion was
given priority by corporate office though it was always cat on the wall.

Major thrust for in house R&D to reach nearly 40 patents p.a. was targeted
and nearly achieved.

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Finally to avoid the Tenth Plan Crisis which became a night mare to BHEL,
many new strategic initiatives were taken in Engineering, MM,
Manufacturing, Quality, Logistics and Commercial management. Strict
implementation and continuous improvements through ERP and IT
leveraging helped us move better towards effective project management.
Restructuring also was done to facilitate cycle time reduction and timely
delivery. Departments were encouraged to develop continuously new IT
systems which on maturity were later integrated with ERP. My earlier
association in steering ERP in FB helped me in this direction.

During my tenure as ED- Trichy, turnover increased from 3536 cr to 4575cr


and PBT jumped from 397 cr to 804 cr i.e. 30% inc in TO and 103% inc in
PBT. Value added per employee improved by 62% and reached Rs.18.9 lacs.
Another great achievement was great jump in order receipts moving from
3425 cr in 2005-06 to 7700 cr in 2006-07, an increase of 125%. After 3
Major VRS and downsizing by 3500 Employees during my term as GM/HR, ,
first major clearance obtained for recruiting 500 Artisans mainly for
Production Shops from Board to bring in younger direct workforce during this
period. This was the beginning.

Though my tenure was short, I was given full support by corporate and
Trichy team to implement lot of new initiatives some of which we could have
dropped earlier. Continuous revisits gives lot of ideas on much
experimentation BHEL boldly carried out in its journey. While majority of the
initiates yielded results, BHEL was ready to abandon the initiatives which
were not either producing results or user friendly. Another great reason for
continuous development of competencies in BHEL came from empowerment
and delegation. Fear of failure was never thought of in BHEL which resulted
in continuous innovation and improvement.

I consider myself lucky to serve this organisation from 1968 to 2007 in


various capacities learning everyday from new events and experiences. As
we sit and relax in the evening chair, great memories of BHEL make us feel
young and energetic, happy and cheerful.LONG LIVE BHEL.

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Chapter -6
The Experts Speak

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Section -1
Boiler Auxiliaries Project –E S
Chandrasekaran

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BOILER AUXILIARIES PLANT RANIPET

1.0 A plant to manufacture the boiler auxiliaries at a separate location was


conceived as a part of the expansion strategy of the boiler plant and in the
process to develop a backward district in the state of Tamilnadu. BHEL
planned to increase the manufacturing capacity to 4000 MW per annum
resulting in an output of 108000 MT at Tiruchy and 57000 MT at Ranipet.
The Ranipet plant was set up at a cost of Rs 32.81 crores. On approval by
the PIB in the year , a small group of engineers, officers and technicians
came forward, forsaking their life in comfort in the township of boiler plant,
to construct the new plant in Ranipet. An office was set up for the
engineering and administration of the project at Katpadi, a town nearly 25
KMs from the project site. The plant site as well as the location of the
temporary office created tough living and working conditions and only
persons who were willing to take this as a challenge in the growth of their
own personal career came forward to join the team during the initial stages.

2.0Nearly 500 acres was acquired with the help of the Government of
Tamilnadu for the requirement of both the plant as well as the township that
was to be constructed as a part of it. The first sod of earth was turned
around in early 1981 heralding the beginning of the construction activities.
The production commenced in june 1982 with the manufacture of 450 mm
collecting electrodes, in a period of about 12months time from the beginning
of the construction activities. In its first year of production, 1982-83, the
value of production was Rs 23 crores whereas it crossed the 100 cr mark in
the year 1985-86. The plant was dedicated to the nation by the then Vice-
President of India, Mr R.Venkataraman, on …………..

3.0 There were a no of issues to be resolved both in the setting up of the


plant as well as in its initial operation which were unique and first off in a no
of ways. The timely completion of the plant was attributed to the successful
handling of these issues which are discussed below.

(i) The plant site was a gradually sloping terrain varying as much as 6 to 10
metres and would have made it both uneconomical as well as would have
extended the period of completion if levelling of site would have been
adopted. It was decided to take advantage of the sloping terrain for efficient

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discharge of drains and effluents and the individual buildings were
constructed at prevailing ground levels thereby avoiding the cost of levelling.

(ii) At the time when the project was approved, there was acute shortage of
steel and that too in matching specification and it would have taken the
project longer period than envisaged.After considering all the pros and cons,
it was decided to adopt reinforced concrete construction for the main
production buildings and with a view to compress the time schedule, it was
also decided to adopt precast structures for all the trusses, cross beams and
members excepting the crane rails. A 30 meter span workshop building in
RCC with OHT cranes necessitated specialised design of the building which
was unique at the time when this plant was constructed. All the trusses
cross beams and members were precast in a separate yard which was set up
for this purpose and the erection involved only the assembly of these
members in situ.An experienced civil engineering contractor was selected for
the detailed engineering and construction supervision keeping in view the
specialised nature of the design of the buildings.

(iii) The location of the plant was decided by the Tamilnadu government
keeping in view their own priorities and had therefore to be engineered to
suit the location. With a view to utilise the given land to the best of the
situation, it was decided to locate the plant on one side and the first phase
of the township on the other side of the railway station with a sub way
connecting the two.

(iv) Under normal circumstances, a rail line would have been drawn direct
from the rail station to the plant site to bring the wagons. But in the case of
this plant, the distance and the geographical location of both the plant and
the nearest rail station did not enable the direct line approach but had to be
reversed in a separate bund constructed only for the purpose of reversing
the wagon trails before the wagons can be brought inside the plant. This is
definitely a disadvantage to the operation of the plant on a long term
operating basis but could not be avoided purely on account of the chosen
location of the plant and the rail station.

(v)The land acquisition involved payment of compensation and a job for the
wards of those who gave the land as per the commitment of the Tamilnadu

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government. This gave lot of operating hurdles as many of these persons
interfered on a day to day basis with the construction of the plant and
involved delicate handling of the situations and gave rise to interesting
anecdotes to be remembered. After protracted negotiations with the State
Govt. authorities an agreement has been reached in the recent past.

(vi)The project implementation involved the construction of the plant


dovetailed with the transfer of machinery from the boiler plant such that the
production of the auxiliaries and the customer commitments were required
to be maintained. This was achieved to a great extent by carefully planning
the whole project on a time scale and with the help of management tools
that were available at that time.

(vii) By using the various project management tools and techniques


available at that time, construction activities could be maintained at the
required pace. Regular reviews were held at the various levels of the State
Government and the Railways so as to ensure that all required inputs are
made available in time to ensure timely progress. All [EC1] these steps
produced dramatic results thereby making it possible to commence the
installation of machinery and commencement of production in about 12
months time from the start of construction.

4.0 Collaborations continued until 1987 for the three products viz., ESP
with Flakt, Sweden, APH with CE-APCO, USA and fans with KKK West
Germany. Establishing R & D facilities for the three products not only
resulted in the early absorption of technologies from the Collaborators but
also in continuous improvements in the design contributing to improved
performance of the end products. The fan testing station established at a
cost of Rs 5 crores, in 1986, is a stand out facility where fans are tested in
operating conditions and are acclaimed one of the few in similar product
manufacturing facilities.

5.0 Development of ancillary industries (around 25 to start with) around


the main plant was one of the successful endeavours which contributed to
the upbringing of successful entrepreneurs as well as development of
manufacturing expertise and creation of employment opportunities, both
direct and indirect, in and around ranipet.

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6.0 As a part of diversification efforts of the plant, windmills, desalination
plants etc were a few products added to the plant’s product lines
contributing to higher utilisation in its capacity many fold.

7.0 It is satisfying to note that a plant envisaged to produce at its rated


capacity an output of about Rs 300 crores is poised now to turn thousands of
crores of rupees, thanks to the foresight of the long range planners who
were responsible for giving rise to the birth of this plant three decades back.

8.0 BHEL continued to mainatain its social responsibilities by adopting


villages nearby and bringing to its manifold the multiple use of street lights
with photo voltaic cells, drinking water facilities, libraries and schools which
emancipated the life of people around.

9.0 True to the spirit of declaration of these factories as the modern temples
of India, it was a matter of coincidence that the idol of Jalakanteshwara was
installed in the vellore fort temple after a century of vacant possession when
the BHEL plant was set up and BHEL could feel proud of its little contribution
in this mite.

10.0 The plant owes its remembrance to Mr V. Krishnamurthy, the then


Secretary, Heavy Industry, for his contribution to the birth of this plant, Mr
K.L.Puri, the late CMD BHEL, for nurturing its growth, Mr M.K.Sridhar, ED,
BHEL Tiruchy, for his direct involvement in the progress of construction of
the plant and Mr E.S.Chandrasekaran, the then GM and later ED, BHEL
Tiruchy, for constructing the plant and the township in the first phase of its
construction.

A special mention has to be made for the contribution of the following


personnel to the successful construction of the plant as well as for its initial
commencement of production.

M/S P.S.Krishnamurthy,Chief Engineer, K. Veeraraghavachari, J.J.R. Muthiah


for civil works and construction;

A.K.Varadharajan,S.Samidas,V.Venkatesh for planning and project


management;

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K.R.Subramanian, K.Sivakumar, A.D.Poornachandran for purchase
activities;S.Balasubramanian, K. Srinivasan for finance and accounting;

Feria, Ramalingam for personnel and administration;

V.Balakrishnan, M.K.Baba for mechanical and electrical supporting


services;Srirangarajan for design supporting services andP.L.Ramanathan for
production start up activities.K. Varadharajan for co-ordinating the initial start
up and establishment activities The contribution of a no of others is fully
acknowledged although their names are not specifically included.PS: Although a
no of persons could be sighted for their significant contribution to the
construction of the plant, a special mention is made of the contribution of Mr.
K. Veeraraghavachari who was responsible for the total civil engineering design
and construction supervision of the plant and the township. Incidentally, he
was also fully associated with the civil engineering design of both Bhopal and
boiler plants.
.

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Section -2
Management of Technology in
BHEL - Talk by Dr.Sharan

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* Talk delivered by Dr. H. N. Sharan, Director (Engineering) BHEL
on 22nd November 1978, at BHEL, Corporate office, Hindustan
Times House, New Delhi. Thanks to Kumar who had saved a
hand-written copy !

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MANAGEMENT OF TECHNOLOGY IN BHEL

1. Introduction

I am going to review with you today our approach to the subject of


‘Management of Technology’ in BHEL. There have been a number of attacks
recently on BHEL and about the way in which it is managing its technology.
One of these is spearheaded by Mr. P. Ramamurthy and the point he is
making is that BHEL is going away from indigenous technology and aligns
itself with western technology without giving an opportunity to its own
engineers to carry out R&D an bring out BHEL’s own products in the market.
The Second attack is from some of the multinationals, who have their own
reasons to be worried about what BHEL is doing in the Indian and
International market.
BHEL’s role in the international market today quantitatively is not very big.
We have a very small order in Libya compared to international standards
and one in Saudi Arabia and a few small orders for individual products.
Recently we have procured business in Nepal, Thailand and for some time in
Malaysia. The reason why the multinationals (with whom, we are not
completing quantitatively in any big way) are worried about us is because
we are affecting the price level in the international field. Hence even if we do
not get much by way of business volumes the equipment that they are going
to sell is not going to be sold at the price level which was there a few years
ago. They have therefore many reasons to try and ensure that BHEL’s
technology or competence or strength does not get to a point that it will
pose a threat in these areas in the years to come.

2. CORPORATE PLAN

It is best to start with the Corporate Plan, which was prepared in early March
1974. It laid down, for the first time, the guidelines for this company to
become an engineering based organization and proposed that within a
certain time frame it should become self-reliant. Flowing from that plan,

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certain concrete steps were taken, (affecting all aspects of working of the
company). I am going to concentrate, essentially on the steps taken with
respect to the technology and engineering aspects of that plan.

2.1 CREATION OF CORPORATE R&D

The Corporate R&D unit was formed by taking people from the various units
(as well as specialists from the academic and other R&D institutions). They
were given the assignment of putting together the proposal for setting up
R&D facilities for the company. Prior to this the NCST, which was also
formed around the same time, had included in its plan the development of a
500 mw set as the next larger size and it had recommended that the
development of such a set should be taken up by BHEL. A group was also
formed within the Company, with experts taken from the concerned units, to
try and evolve a strategy for carrying out the development of a 500 mw unit.

2.2 R&D AT TIRUCHY

It was around this time that certain steps were taken as a continuation of
what had already been done in Tiruchy. Tiruchy started off by being
established as a total integrated plant under Czech collaboration. They gave
us training, designs & layouts of the plants. They have supplied equipment
and enabled us to set up a good base for one of the most integrated boiler
plants in the world. It started manufacturing boilers, fans, air-preheaters,
electrostatic precipitators and so on but quite early on in its career itself,
Tiruchy can be credited as one of the first organizations in the country to
enter into the second phase of its development rather quickly. The First
phase was mainly the establishment of a manufacturing base and a cadre of
trained manpower on whom plans for future development can be based. This
includes the manpower in engineering, manufacturing, erection &
commissioning and the support services functions.The entry of Tiruchy into
the second phase, rather quickly, was based on an assessment (by the unit
management) that the technology obtained from Czechoslovakia was not
necessarily the best for Tiruchy to be able to fulfill its commitment to the
market. That assessment was based on the analysis of the available designs
and the capability of the Czech collaborator to continuously feed to Tiruchy
the results of its own developments, whether it was interns of manufacturing
technology or in terms of design aspects. That was also the time when

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maximum progress was being made, in the field of boiler technology, in the
rest of the world. Many companies were going in for completely new
manufacturing concepts like welded and fusion walls. They were also going
to higher pressures and temperatures and super critical power stations. Unit
sizes. up to 1300 mw were being built and the Tiruchy management was
outward looking enough to examine the total situation in the world - the
global situation in the technology of boilers and boiler house auxiliaries and
come to the conclusion that what the Czechs were doing was not likely to
keep them in the fore front of boiler technology. They therefor decided to
look for collaboration and that is how the CE collaboration was started.
Today, I’m sure we will all agree, it is one of our best collaborations. As a
part of the CE collaboration the facilities were completely revamped. A
Second generation of Boilers was introduced even before the first generation
had started operating. The people who were trained in Czechoslovakia were
sent to Combustion Engineering to get acquainted with their practices and so
our boiler designers were interacting with their counterparts in CE and in
that process, learning what was being done in technologically far more
advance countries. This was how the ‘R&D’ concept had its roots in Tiruchy
even before it got established in the rest of the company.

3. HYDERABAD

A somewhat similar process also took place in Hyderabad. By virtue of


getting into the market for supplying compressors, (which of course in a
sophisticated product and I am only surprised why no one is asking as to
why BHEL is not designing and building its own 250 atmosphere
compressors) we went on to the 2nd stage of acquiring the drive turbines.
We already had with us the Czech designs. An analysis was done and
comparisons were made with other international companies designs and a
decision was taken to go in for the Siemens Collaboration for the drive
turbines .I do not think, looking back at the results, anyone can say today
that it was a wrong decision. The acceptance of the Hyderabad Plant as a
reputed and dependable supplier of compressors and their drive turbines
together with other equipment in the Industry Sector by the international
consultants is a recognition of the fact that this collaboration has been
entered into and has been implemented in a manner such that within the
shortest possible time indigenization has taken place, absorption of
technology has taken place and we are in a position to cater to the

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requirement of our markets and perhaps also to the export markets once we
have some more capacity.

4. NEED FOR TECHNOLOGY UPDATING

So, just as envisaged in the corporate plan, actions were already going on in
the company after the merger and consolidation of BHEL as a single entity.
Technology and Engineering are areas which can never remain static. A
company which remains static is going to be a dead company within the
shortest time. There are plenty of examples in the international market
where giants have fallen because they have not kept their technology
updated. So for BHEL also this realization must be one of the prime factors
in our future planning. So we come to the question:
How does one keep the technology updated at all times? So that we can give
the customer a product which satisfies his specifications and needs and
which can be produced at competitive prices and uses materials of the right
quality from the point of view of reliability and at the same time optimum
from the point of view of cost! Also, we must supply equipment which while
in service gives results which are up to any international standard - we
certainly do not intend to keep running an Ambassador car made by
BHEL!And if that is the status, there we come to the discussion of the
question - how do we fulfill these needs?

5. TECHNOLOGY UPDATIING METHODOLOGY

As briefly mentioned earlier, some of the initial steps taken included the
following:
Creation of Corporate R&D
Creation of ESNP
iii) Creation of Service divisions for the Power SectorIn the first phase of its
technological evolution BHEL had not considered setting up a separate
services division for any of its power sector products. We concentrated only
on the manufacture of the products and left it to the customers to integrate
these into a total system. Unfortunately, it was not just BHEL which had
forgotten this aspect - the total Indian Power Sector had not yet reconciled
itself to the concept of an integrated power station!At this juncture the
Consultancy division was created. Power project division was also created.
So, from the engineering and services points of view, organizational steps

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were taken to implement this policy of getting updated and procuring up-to-
date technology. We have to look at these things in the proper perspective -
that erection in itself is not the objective of the company. Why do we want
to erect a boiler?So that our boiler, when it is commissioned runs properly.
Why do we want to get into power station engineering? So that the problems
we had with the first generation of boilers are not repeated. All of you are
aware of the discussions we had with the customers and then consultants for
e.g. the characteristics of the BFP’s did not match with the requirements of
the system at all; are you going to be able to start the boiler under hot
conditions? In some stations we had to modify the number of stages; in
some others we had to encounter erosion of the valves - and so on. Some of
these problems are plaguing us even today. So whether it is Consultancy or
PPD or any other unit we must look at it in the perspective of the objective
of this company to review technologically up to date and to give service to
the customer and to fulfill the end results that is to have a product which can
run with the maximum reliability and can be sold at a competitive price in
the market.

6. RE-ORGANISATION OF THE ENGINEERING FUCTION

Then came the next stage- all of you who have been involved in this and had
participated in the discussions remember the time it took. A committee was
formed. Which turned into the ‘Engineering Committee’ which was chaired
by Mr. V. Krishnamurthy himself it went to all the units & had any number of
discussions at various places. You remember, at Hardwar for example the
meeting we had till about 2.00 AM regarding the location of the Hydro
center, the question whether to spilt the hydro turbine and hydro generator
centers ;which is more advantageous (from the engineering point of view)
We did modify quite a few of our original proposals made in the engineering
reorganization as a result of these discussions.

One of the basic realizations which emerged in the Engineering


Reorganization was that in a company like BHEL, we cannot have a
centralized R&D, i.e. the Corporate R&D, for the entire product development
and improvement program of all the products of the company. This was a
model adopted during the post-world war II years in some companies and
very soon given up because it does not ensure the involvement of the
product designers, the manufacturing engineers, service engineers, site

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engineers and last but not the least the workers on the shop floor. After a lot
of debate it was decided to re-define the objectives of corporate R&D and
say that it will concentrate on areas encompassing many products where
certain generic type of data has to be generated. This data can be used for a
particular series of products say mechanical rotating machines like fans,
pumps, turbines etc. The other objective was to work in basic areas like
metallurgy, electromagnetic phenomena and so on. The third objective was
to establish experimental and testing facilities and to have enough number
of experienced people who can run those facilities to generate the data.

So, in this phase of work, the engineering functions at all the units were re-
organized. As you will remember, we created an ‘EDC’ (Engineering
Development Centre) with clear cut responsibility for that product. The EDM
is the man who speaks for that product. There was a lot of discussion at that
time - whether we should call him a manager and whether his status would
go down by doing so. Today we do not bother about the title, it is the
generic term which is accepted everywhere and I do not think that is has
affected the status of the manager - The status comes from what he is able
to do for his product and not from his title! for example, as many of you may
know, we had chosen a deputy manager as EDM for one of the products. I
think that was one of the products where we made substantial progress.

7. FEEDBACK FROM THE FIELD

Even before the engineering reorganization has been done, the first results
had started to come in from the field. In 1973-74 when the company was
being re organized, there was very little field data available. There were very
few items of equipment of BHEL which had gone into operation. We were all
“paper engineers” at that time. We were swearing by what our consultants
and our collaborators were telling us. We had curves in front of us and even
when senior consulting engineers came to advise us, we said, “no, you don’t
know what you are talking about - this is what our collaborations say and
this is what we will do.”So, we were “paper engineers” at that time. Paper
design is of course the basis for all engineering activity. But it is only the
start. All the plans and discussions that we were doing, were in a phase
when we were still in the beginning of our learning curve. So, at that time,
when certain statements and plans were made, they were based on the
assumption that the collaborators products will work 100% as they were

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predicted to work; that all that we had learnt will need no modification and
they can be extrapolated to the next bigger size. It was unfortunately
proved incorrect within the shortest possible time, by the malfunctioning of
our equipment. If you look back to the year 1974-75 the type of problems
we have faced in Ennore with the boilers and feed pumps are still troubling
us.

Thus, with the first experience from the field, a decision was taken
immediately to establish, for the first time at Tiruchy, in October 1975, a
field engineering services group which consisted of experienced engineers
who were pulled out of their design functions and put on the job of securing
information from the field, evaluating the same, and then interacting with
the designers and the shop floor. That was the first realization in BHEL that a
design engineer is not supposed to just, sit in his office. Till that time it was
not the custom in BHEL for the design engineers to go to the sites. It was
not the normal practice for a design engineer to be present at site before a
set was commissioned, to take certain pre-commissioning readings.

Mr. Ranganathan, who was one of the senior most design engineers was put
as head of this group. And when we re-organized the engineering function
and put EDCs for each product, one of the groups was the FES; the other
was ‘RPD’. As I said earlier in a company like BHEL, having diversified areas,
we cannot have a centralized R&D which will do everything. So, this concept
had to be re formulated in the form of RPD groups. A group of people,
directly under the EDM, had to be identified to look at the product
improvement and development to build up the specialists who can do the
calculations, to build up test engineers, to have a set of local facilities
specifically required for that product and interact with the PE & FES
engineers, to go and give (to the customer) whatever in depth analysis is
made.

Around the same time, we also recognized - but it took us a long time to
implement it - that the total organization of the site activities was not
optimized for producing meaningful results. The PPD as it was constituted at
that time was based on the concept of a single group of people responsible
for both erection & commissioning. At that time, there was nothing like a
separate group or cadre of commissioning engineers. There were
commissioning engineers nominated but they were interchangeable with

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erection engineers. If you examine the experience of any company in this
world, the commissioning engineers are a breed by themselves and they
also later on make the best design engineers. You will find that in most of
the companies of the world, some of the top design engineers have spent a
good part of their time its commissioning activities.

8. POWER PROJECTS -TECHNICAL SERVICES

We have now formed a group known as the technical services group in PPD.
Prior to that, there was no systematic manner in which the performance of
our equipment was being monitored/analyzed. It was around the same time
that in the ESNP division we formed a group specifically for performance
evaluation. This group brought out for the first time a report on the forced
outage rate of the machines in service, trying to analyze why the outages
were happening and giving the feedback to the FES and other design groups.
This group has now been incorporated into the technical services group of
PPD. There again it was decided as done earlier, that you need the best
design engineers to be available for solving the site problems. It was thus
that people like M/s. Vaishya, Ranganathan, Bhargava, Ali etc. were brought
to the PPD (TS) group to provide the theoretical and experimental design
background to the field for enabling the problem to be solved in time.
Because we have been getting the feedback from the customers that even
though BHEL does react, this is not being done in the desired time frame.
Even today we are not in a position to solve the problems in time. There are
many reasons for this, partly organizational, partly lack of experience,
knowledge, data bank and so on. The situation is improving. It was much
worse two years ago- boilers failure rate contributed to about 36% of the
forced outage rate - Seven out of eight 120 MW units not working and so on.
In the power project division itself, the performance evaluation
group which was transferred from ESNP and put in PPD (TS) is doing an
excellent job and performing the analytical work on forced outages. We now
have a programme giving out the monthly data on detailed analysis of
forced outages. It will give you all the data that you want, to see for
example the effect of the grid quality on our equipment, the effect of age,
type of equipment etc.

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9. QUALITY ASSURANCE

The other step was in the area of quality. No matter what we tell to
outsiders it remains a fact that a larger proportion of our problems is due to
bad quality. It could be in the engineering stage of having missed out on
sometimes because the checks & balance were not properly built in. Bad
quality during the manufacture where short cuts were taken either in
production or in testing. Bad quality at site with "chalega'' approach. And
due to lack of quality during commissioning. No proper system of pre
commissioning checks, no hand books, no systematic training of
commissioning engineers. There was a practice of transferring the
commissioning engineers from one site to the other without their knowing
the type of design they were expected to commission. Operation manuals
and Handbooks were copies of what we had obtained from collaborators
hence, local conditions were not taken into account at all.Hence, the quality
aspect was recognized by the management as an area in need of a renewed
thrust and it was decided to create the post of a GM (Quantity Assurance),
which in itself in no guarantee of anything. It was also decided to split the
function into quality assurance & quality control because there was, from all
levels, the feeling - “how can we maintain quality if we are under production
pressure”. I do not agree with this. There are any number of examples
where production has suffered because of bad quality. It is only at the initial
stage, where we are trying to introduce the systems that we run into some
problems because any new system has to be adopted (to local conditions).
Then it is only by implementing the systems properly that we can get
maximum productivity out of the company or out of a particular facility. The
question of production of motors in Hardwar is a classic example of quality
standards affecting the production of a product. The rejection rates of the
coils were high because of not adhering to the prescribed quality standards.
Similarly, as you know in the case of traction machines in Bhopal.

So, nobody, who is involved in the management of the manufacturing


function will really in the long term believe that good quality results in lower
production. I do not hear about it now, but there was a time when it was
being brought up over and over again. We therefore decided to have two
functions in the quality area - one was quality-control under production, as
uptill now and the other was the quality assurance group reporting to
engineering, with well defined functions.

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Quality Assurance is for the purpose of establishing the systems and training
of people and for auditing the implementation. We are slowly proceeding in
that direction but we are nowhere near perfection. But I think it can be said
that today the rejection rates have reduced and the quality of products has
improved substantially in the last two years. Introduction of third party
surveillance also created problems in the first phase. Today, everybody
recognizes the good effect this has had on the working of our shop floors.

The above mentioned points really sum up the organizational steps that we
have taken to crate the base on which we can go forward to realizing our
objectives of becoming self-reliant.

10. METHODS OF ACHIEVING SELF RELIANCE

How do we reach the twin goals of self reliance and engineering excellence?
There are two ways : (1) Example of China and the other (2) is of Japan.
China decided in the first phase of its development to completely isolate
itself from the rest of the world, and decided to do everything on its own.
This was still during the period when China was close to Russia and it got
from them the type of equipment that we got. It also got hydro electric
station technology similar to what we got for Hardwar from the Soviets.

It was a fact that during the last 60 years China lost substantial ground in
the matter of building up a heavy engineering base - whether you are a
Communist or a Gandhian - one has to accept the fact that heavy
engineering has an important role to play in the economy of a Country.
Without such a base, even small scale industry cannot be satisfactorily
established and serviced. The Chinese have realized this now and are going
in for massive import of technology from the west.

The second example is that of Japan. Japan has always believed in copying
and buying and borrowing and stealing technology from wherever it could. It
is a fact that they have a reputation for copying. They also had the
reputation for bad quality during the initial post-war years and it was very
difficult for them to get accepted as a potential supplier of heavy equipment
by the rest of the developed world. The situation has completely changed
now, not only are they selling equipment to the rest of the world, not only
have the prices been brought down, but they are also selling technology to

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some of the most well established engineering companies in the world e.g.
GE is building SF6 switcher under a hence from Hitachi in a joint company in
America. There are any numbers of such examples. At the same time,
Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Fuji and many large Japanese Companies continue to
maintain, simultaneously, a large number of collaborations that they wish to
continue further with large US &