Here’s the good news. Along recent tragedies of collapses, bridge success stories have also been making the headlines.
Many Indians believe one of the first bridges in the world was constructed here: The 50-km Ram Setu. Lore aside, bridge construction has come a long way from the age-old technologies that were being adopted till the mid-1980s. “We have had revolutionary changes in concrete technology,” says Shashikant Limaye, Member Expert Committee, Pune Metro Project. The Konkan Railway Project (1991-97) involved the construction of 250 major bridges along the west coast, most of which were completed within three to four years. The chief engineer (design and coordination) on this prestigious project, Limaye shares, “Konkan Railway, for the first time, adopted cast-in-situ bored RC piles for deep foundations and pre-casting of concrete girders in a big way.” Today, these are the norm for speedy and quality construction, whether it is metro viaducts, highway bridges, flyovers or sea-links.
Other landmarks include the much awaited Bogibeel road and rail bridge over the Brahmaputra river in Assam, and Signature Bridge in Delhi, and exciting upcoming projects such as the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL), Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, Chenab River Railway Bridge, Basohli Cable Stayed Bridge, and others. Commenting on the paradigm shift in bridge building, Limaye says, “From 1.2/1.5 m dia piles in Konkan Railway, today, 2.2 m dia piles are being provided on MTHL.”
Thus, there are huge opportunities for construction and EPC players in this segment.
“Highway construction and expansion in India touched 10,800 km in 2018-19, about 30 km per day,” says Vivek Gautam, COO - Strategic Business Group – Core Infra, Tata Projects. “The Railway Ministry also claims to be laying about 20-23 km of rail tracks every day. This road and rail network expansion will require bridges to connect certain sections to overcome geographical hurdles like hills or rivers.”
And RVR Kishore, Project Director, Hindustan Construction Company, points out, “India has achieved only 10 per cent of its current requirement of bridges, with several cities and rivers still required to be bridged. While the road network has improved in the past few years, the focus on bridges—including railway bridges—to improve connectivity needs to be stronger. With this, there will be an increasing requirement for specialised subcontractors as well.”