In a horrifying incident on March 14 in Mumbai, at least six people were killed and about 36 injured when the bridge near the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station collapsed.
This tragic foot-over-bridge collapse, along with several other bridge collapses witnessed in the past few years, has once again brought the country’s aging civic infrastructure into the harsh spotlight.
The Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA), India’s apex stainless steel body, has reiterated the importance of choosing the best alternative for strengthening the country’s social infrastructure. “There is a need to choose the best material for safe and maintenance-free infrastructure in the country,” asserts KK Pahuja, President, ISSDA. “We appeal to local civic authorities and other concerned departments to adopt stainless steel in all infrastructure projects, as it will enhance life-cycle and durability. The Indian Railways is already relying on stainless steel for its upcoming infrastructure along with other utilities. A case in point is the proposed stainless steel foot-over-bridge at Bhayandar station in Mumbai by the Indian Railways.” He adds that ISSDA is ready to provide full support in the form of technical knowhow and hand-holding to the government and civic authorities in this matter.
According to industry data, around 135,000 rail bridges exist in India, of which nearly 25 per cent are over 100 years old and need immediate replacement. Although over 1,000 bridges are rehabilitated every year, there is a huge backlog in rebuilding these bridges. Also, India has a coastline of 7,500 km, which mandates the need for stainless steel infrastructure. Given the high airborne salts in marine environments, bridges in these areas are exposed to rapid corrosion and are vulnerable to collapse.
In the current ecosystem, infrastructure requires easy design and fabrication, reduced life-cycle cost, resistance to corrosion and fire, high strength-to-weight ratio, and quick turnaround time for project completion.
All these properties are inherent to stainless steel, making it the optimum choice for the nation’s infrastructure.