“Plumbing and firefighting are prime requirements”

Armed with almost three decades in the field of engineering, Ashok Joshi has made his presence felt in this sector

In conversation with ANNA FERNANDES

With almost three decades in the field of engineering, Ashok Joshi has built a strong reputation for excellence in his profession. Joshi graduated from the Government Engineering College, Farmagudi in 1991, with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. After working for a copper clad laminate company for a small period, he relocated to Pune where he enjoyed stints as an air conditioning engineer at major engineering firms such as Kirloskar Pneumatic Company Ltd and Blue Star. With a strong background in HVAC, he moved to Bahrain. In Bahrain, he worked at Cyprus-based GP Zachariades, where he ventured into fire-fighting, plumbing and drainage and other mechanical projects. In 2005, Joshi moved back to his homeland Goa and set up his own firm, Joshi Engineering Consultancy. He is also the chairman of the Indian Plumbers Association – Goa Chapter.

Tell us about your firm, Joshi Engineering Consultancy.

Joshi Engineering Consultancy provides MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) engineering consultancy, including air-conditioning, firefighting, plumbing and drainage, electrical services and other mechanical projects. Our consultancy services combine knowledge, expertise and experience with an unflinching focus on quality. We cater to project requirements of both, organisations as well as individual clients across Goa, offering services to various real estate developers, hospitality industry, hospitals, industrial projects and so on. We also support environmental consultants for construction-related projects and PCB clearances.

My electrical associate is Wavell Furtado, who heads his own engineering firm in Goa, Powerwaves. Being a mechanical engineer, I am in charge of the design aspect when it comes to air-conditioning, firefighting and plumbing services. Wavell, being an electrical engineer, focuses on all the electrical aspects that include lighting, CCTV, and other services. Both of us collaborate to carry out the design coordination (other than civil) of all projects.


Tell us about your role as chairman of the Indian Plumbing Association – Goa Chapter.

The Indian Plumbing Association (IPA) is the apex body of plumbing professionals in India, with an objective to promote the development of the plumbing and building services industry. It is one of the primary objectives of IPA to impart knowledge in the field of plumbing to professionals and consultants to whom it will be relevant and useful. Plumbing engineers, plumbers, architects, developers, teachers, and students related to the construction industry have a responsibility to remain up-to-date with current needs, trends and developments.

In 2013, I undertook the chairmanship of Indian Plumbing Association. We established the Goa chapter to promote the development of plumbing and building services in the state, and to build a proper linkage between consultancy, manufacturing, contracting, trading, academia and architecture and to  uphold the dignity of the profession by encouraging members to adopt correct business practices, adhere to ethical codes of conduct and aim for the highest standards of workmanship and to promote and foster healthy relationships within the fraternity. As chairman of the IPA – Goa chapter, I have to build a team that will work towards building, learning and improving the skills of the plumbing personnel in Goa.  We encourage more individuals engaged directly or indirectly with the construction industry to join IPA so that knowledge is assimilated by even the lowest grade of plumbers. IPA provides a platform for dissemination of information and exchange of ideas on matters related to the plumbing profession.

In Goa, most plumbers aren’t plumbers by qualification. They are plumbers by virtue of experience. So it is our duty to train them, as per national and international standards.

We strive to promote the advancement of plumbing services in the state of Goa by organising seminars, exhibitions and symposiums to educate members and the general public, providing a platform for dissemination of information and exchange of ideas on matters related to the plumbing profession, and establishing harmonious means of communication to facilitate a better interface between the plumbing community, statutory bodies, NGOs and private agencies. We also strive to follow and champion the principles of energy conservation, water conservation and work towards a greener India and Swachh Bharat.


What are some of the initiatives undertaken by IPA to strengthen the skill set of plumbers?

In the last four years, we have undertaken certain initiatives, conducted seminars and training sessions to educate members of the trade and the general public, on sewerage treatment, wastewater treatment services, rainwater harvesting, plumbing, piping, pumps, etc. Last year we had our national conference – the 24th Indian Plumbing Conference (IPC), held in Goa. The theme of the conference was, “Plumbing for a sustainable future,’ and the event was packed with a series of panel discussions, technical sessions, and presentations on various products like pumps, piping, sanitary fittings, CP fittings, etc. Experts in the field shared their insights in panel discussions, on various themes like ‘When Luxury Meets Sustainability’, ‘Integrated 24×7 Water Supply’, ‘Rainwater Harvesting in Coastal Areas’ and so on.


What are some of IPA’s immediate plans?

We are planning to organise and conduct a quiz contest – the Indian Plumbing Professional League (IPPL) – in all 16 chapters of the IPA simultaneously this year, as 2018 is our Silver Jubilee Year.

The main objective of this league is to impart knowledge of the best plumbing practices in an interesting way. The soul of the event is knowledge-sharing, but with a spirit of healthy competition. IPA expects to impart knowledge to 20 teams in each state, consisting of engineers and architects. The winning three teams will get Gold, Silver and Bronze medals along with a study tour to Europe, the Far East and the Middle East, Asia. Apart from this, we are planning to set up a plumbing lab at Goa Engineering College. We also want to establish a student chapter of the IPA.


What is your vision for the plumbing trade in the state?

Considering the fast degrading state of today’s ecological landscape, it is undeniable that sustainability must hereafter remain at the fulcrum of everything that we do, to ensure that natural resources are not exhausted in a matter of time. At IPA, our focus is on making the public aware of new plumbing technology. People should pay more attention towards saving water and other resources, through the innovations in plumbing technology.

Thanks to technological developments, ingenious products have been devised towards such ends in the plumbing industry, particularly for water efficiency. Rainwater harvesting systems have been popularised to raise the groundwater table as well as to facilitate the use of rainwater during monsoons, and sewerage treatment plants have been set up, so that water generated can be used for flushing and landscaping.

It is highly beneficial to use solar heating systems and heat pumps for water heating and solar cookers for cooking as opposed to gas or electricity. The replacement of conventional, electrically operated pumps with solar pumps also saves a lot of electricity indirectly resulting in the conservation of water – water being the primary source to run the turbines and generate electricity. Additionally, photovoltaic cells can also be installed for electrical generation, which can then be directed towards water heating and pumps. Recent developments in piping have focused on maintaining a low coefficient of friction, resulting in less energy required to transport water. All of these factors are incredibly important to the IPA and plumbers in general.


How would you encourage students to venture into plumbing and other MEP services?

The need for plumbing services arises in terms of maintenance of public health and environmental requirements emanating from the water industry and the need for proper sanitation. Of the many key activities carried out in the construction sector, plumbing is one of the main constituents which also has a direct link with other ancillary industries, manufacturing, plumbing related products, water treatment, sewage and drainage, fire safety, supply of gas, heating and cooling systems, industrial waste management, and air-conditioning. Plumbing and firefighting are prime requirements; it is the need of the hour, because in all households, in all aspects of life, there is a need for such services. Students should be encouraged to take up integrated courses in MEP services. I would also like to mention the IPSC (Indian Plumbing Skills Council). Like I said earlier, about 90% of the plumbing industry workforce in India is not professionally trained. Most of the skill learning in the industry happens through unstructured, on-the-job training. Lack of professionally trained plumbers is a major drawback for the country’s construction and related sectors. The IPSC endeavours to address these issues and bring the skill levels in our country to world standards, as well as help aspiring plumbers develop their plumbing skills and award them their degrees

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