Ever since he forayed into the world of contracts at the tender age of 13 six decades ago he has not looked back.
Meet Uppalapati Appala Narasimha Raju, popularly known as Appanna Babu in the circle of contractors.
He hails from a poor agrarian family from a nondescript village by name Butchiyyapeta in Chodavaram taluk in Visakhapatnam district. After his elementary school education he moved out of home to try his luck in contracts. He started off with small land reclamation and quarry works and today he is considered one among the top civil works contractors in the coastal Andhra.
"I was fortunate that when I moved out of the house in search of greener pastures to support my family, there were a number of projects in the offing like Caltex Refinery (now HPCL Visakh Refinery), Visakhapatnam Port Trust and Coromandel Fertilisers, to name a few. Somehow I could convince people that I am capable of undertaking a job. I began with small land filling works by employing a few casual workers and by the time I was 18, I had become an 'A' class contractor in VPT and that was the turning point in my life," reminisces Mr. Raju.
Mr. Raju has not only been recognised now as a class-I contractor by almost all Government departments but also considered as an expert in tunnel works. Apart from executing a number of important projects for the Railways like the Koraput- Rayagada project, the twin-tube tunnel on the Pune-Mumbai expressway for Konkan Railway, he is all set to start work on the much awaited Rs.160 crore Jammu-Srinagar rail line project.
Apart from employing over 500 persons in permanent and casual rolls, he owns a huge fleet of earthmovers that include excavators, bulldozers and other mounted drilling machines.
On his success he says: "It is not that I have been successful all through my life nor have I amassed wealth overnight. My growth was gradual with many ups and downs. I vividly remember falling to the nadir from the zenith at least three times during the last 60 years. But every time I rose like a phoenix. Commitment, dedication and the capacity to deliver quality work on time not only brought me to this stage but also bailed me out during trying times."
According to him, respect for old age and the tenets of spiritualism have impelled him to do something for them. He has constituted a trust by name U.A.N. Raju Charitable Trust to handle his philanthropic ambitions. Apart from donating over 40 lakhs for 'Nitya Annadanam Scheme' to various temples including Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanam he has liberally contributed towards the development of ashrams and Vedic schools founded by the Jeeyar Educational Trust of Tridandi Srimannarayana China Ramanuja Jeeyar Swami.
"Today my company is a public limited one but I have taken special permission from the Registrar of Companies to allow me to donate over Rs.1.5 lakhs every month for the maintenance of a couple of temples and a few social organisations like Prema Samajam (Chodavaram), Onkar School for the Deaf and Dumb, a blind school near Endada and an old age home."
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