Faisal E. Kottikollon, 53, founder and chairman of the Dubai-based KEF Holdings, ranks 41 in the Forbes’ Middle-East’s ‘Top 100 Indian Business Owners in the Arab World 2017’. Last year, KEF Holdings’ subsidiary, KEF Infra, opened a ₹440-crore offsite prefabrication construction factory at Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, which he claims is the first in India and ‘one of the most advanced in the world’. Prefab construction, driven by cutting-edge technology, could help solve the housing shortage in the country, he said. Excerpts:
Initially, I had wanted to set up a high-tech foundry in India as I was keen on chipping in for the infrastructure development in India. I have all along been a fan of the former President Abdul Kalam, who told me when he was in Dubai long back that he had started his career in the ISRO’s foundry. But, then I got interested in offsite prefabricated construction which was almost non-existent in India. Meanwhile, my family and I were building this ₹450-crore multi-speciality hospital at Kozhikode, so the prefab materials from the KEF Infra One Industrial Park at Krishnagiri came in handy.
But, is there a large market for prefab in India?
There is a huge opportunity for prefab construction industry right now in the country. In my view, India will need a thousand more plants soon. I guess the central Urban Ministry is likely to give a big push for the prefab industry shortly for promoting affordable housing. I believe prefab is the way to go to solve the housing shortage in the country. It’s cheap and fast. For instance, we can build a house in just two hours, with our plug-and-play products. And we can build a school in 30 to 60 days. Meitra Hospital is the first fully prefabricated hospital in India. This is going to be the norm in the future.
What are some of your other prefab projects?
We built 101 Indira Canteens in Karnataka in 45 days. Now, we are building the ₹650-crore, 2-million-sq.ft. Lulu Mall in Lucknow. We will complete it in 21 months. The prefab contract is for about ₹100 crore.