Ashok Katariya, an Udyog Ratna award winner from the Indian Economic Council and Lifetime Achievement award winner from the Association of Consulting Civil Engineers, began his life in straitened circumstances. The lesson he learnt from this period was that education was the answer to all the financial problems faced by his family. At school, he won scholarships to fund his education. Later, he won admission to Fergusson College, Pune, and then to the College of Engineering, Pune University, where he was a gold medallist in 1973.
Katariya’s first job was at the Public Health Department, Maharashtra, for a monthly salary of Rs 240. In 1975, he started working as a contractor for a PWD in Maharashtra. At this point, he decided to strike out on his own, so he borrowed Rs 5,000 from friends and family to bid for a construction project worth Rs 56,000. His bid was successful, and he completed the project in a record time of four months, and repaid all his loans.
Subsequently, in 1976, he ventured into civil construction and laid the foundation of Ashoka Buildcon (ABL). The company began its journey as a small-time contracting firm which executed jobs for local government bodies.
In 1987, the government came out with a policy allowing education trusts to set up their own colleges and educational institutions. In a boost to the company, ABL won several of these projects and built many of the bigger medical, engineering and educational institutions in the country, including the MIT and the Bharati Vidyapeeth in Maharashtra.
A major turning point in Katariya’s life came when the company diversified into public-private partnership-based highway development projects. This paved way for growth in the infrastructure development space.
Since then, there has been no looking back and the company has grown by leaps and bounds under his chairmanship. In 2010, ABL was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange. The company began executing transmission projects duirng the year. Apart from infrastructure development, the Ashoka Group has ventured into the education, agriculture, renewable energy and real estate sectors.
Katariya finds time to be an active participant in the Institute of Engineers, the Indian Concrete Institute, the Indian Institute of Bridge Engineers, the Builders’ Association of India and the Construction Federation of India.