Early completion of package-2 is a vindication of our engineering capabilities
ROADS & HIGHWAYS

Early completion of package-2 is a vindication of our engineering capabilities

What are the various aspects involved in the entire Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway project? And what was Afcons role in the project? Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg is the longest expressway in the country. It is 701 km long, and, for the first time, it forms an east-west corridor directly c...

What are the various aspects involved in the entire Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway project? And what was Afcons role in the project? Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg is the longest expressway in the country. It is 701 km long, and, for the first time, it forms an east-west corridor directly connecting Mumbai with the state’s winter capital, Nagpur. The Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg project will spur new economic developmental activities in the entire region/corridor. This expressway has a design speed of 150 kmph and a carriageway of 15 metres on either side with a median of 15 metre. The expressway connects 24 districts and cuts down travel time between Mumbai and Nagpur by half. Now, one can reach Mumbai from Nagpur, or, vice versa in just 8 hours. Afcons is proud to work on two packages namely PKG-2 and PKG-14 in this entire corridor which is highly structure-intensive and complex. Of the two packages, we have completed PKG-2 ahead of all contractors and ahead of schedule. It has been thrown open to the public as part of the inauguration of phase-1 of the Samruddhi Corridor on December 11, 2022, at the hands of honourable PM Narendra Modi. We are hopeful of completing PKG-14, which consists of India’s widest and Maharashtra’s longest road tunnels, on time, or, ahead of schedule. The twin tunnels have already been completed in the project. We will complete the second viaduct and the remaining works in this package shortly. Can you throw light on various aspects that propelled all breakthroughs and execute the first phase of the project well ahead of its schedule? Package-2 of the expressway is highly structure-intensive with over 200 structures including India’s widest wildlife overpass. The 58.4 km stretch from village Khadki Amgaon to village Pimpalgaon, Wardha involved 12 km of open hill cutting and 18 million cubic meter of earthwork for five major bridges, 25 minor bridges, two rail over bridges, 19 vehicular underpasses, 12 pedestrian underpasses, 11 flyovers, 53 box culverts, two wildlife overpasses, two wildlife underpasses, and one rotary with 46 slabs. The number of structures in package-2 provides insight into the quantum and complexity of work. We have always focused on total customer satisfaction, and on-time or before-scheduled delivery. We received tremendous support from our client MSRDC, the local administration, which enabled us to speed up execution despite the pandemic. The swift completion of PKG-2 was the result of months of back-breaking work. We had formed an excellent team for the massive volume of earthwork involved in the project. We had assigned dedicated teams for permission-related tasks which were regularly monitored. I am immensely proud of the team that has delivered this project ahead of schedule despite numerous challenges. What innovative project management techniques and construction technologies were used for this iconic project? Several modifications and innovations were introduced to compensate for the time lost during the pandemic and monsoon related interruptions. Initially, we started using a standard shutter, but the time cycle was longer. We wanted to shorten the time cycle and hence shifted to peri shutter. We built different types of shutters as per our design, planning, and strategy. Our main target was to cut down the time by half. We accomplished it through proper planning and monitoring. Then, we dreaded a labour exodus during the pandemic. Our labour strength was around 3,500 to 4,000 workers. We announced incentives and made proper quarantine and Covid-prevention arrangements. We were able to retain a large portion of the workforce and began work in a planned manner such that the continuity of activities was maintained. What various safety standards were adhered to while executing the expressway project? Afcons is known for giving the highest importance to the safety of staff and workers. During the pandemic, very few infrastructure projects were approved to work. Our team ensured all prevention and safety protocols. We created awareness programmes amongst all workers and staff with daily talks and encouraged them to personal hygiene. The unwell were taken care of by regular check-ups and were recovered. We arranged a vaccination drive at the site and provided vaccination to staff. The safety team encourages a safe working environment. It provides education amongst workers towards safety. All safety-related measures are taken to ensure that the project works are carried out safely. What challenges were faced while constructing Maharashtra’s longest road tunnel? How did Afcons overcome them? Package-14 is the most critical package in the entire Samruddhi corridor because it comprises India’s widest road tunnels in the Kasara Ghat area along with two viaducts. The major focus of our execution was on twin tunnels, which were completed in a record time of two years despite the pandemic. Each tunnel is 7.78 km long and 17.6 metre wide, with three lanes in each direction. The tunnels are equipped with modern ventilation, firefighting, and safety systems. The tunnel is designed with a 2.49 per cent downward gradient and an S-curve shape to mitigate the steep slope of the ghat section. As part of construction and pre-construction activities, we obtained permission from the authorities to form access roads in the forest area. Since the roads were narrow and steep, heavy vehicle movement was impeded. The bulk construction material had to be stored at the Igatpuri side and moved in small quantities. The disposal of the tunnel muck generated during the underground tunnel excavation in the forest area was a challenging task. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, identifying and sourcing CFT vendors for the five-metre segment having a unit weight of 185 MT was another difficult task. Preparing construction approach roads at the southern end of the project at the Kasara Ghat side and arranging water for construction activities during the summer months were equally testing times for us. Initially, two vertical shafts were planned for the tunnels. After a detailed review of the terrain and execution methodology, one vertical shaft was changed to an inclined shaft, which in turn facilitated the tunnel excavation by opening multiple work fronts. The same inclined shaft can now be used as an escape tunnel in case of an emergency. How is the successful execution of this project going to impact Afcons in the Indian road infrastructure segment? The benefits accruing through the project are manifold and not just confined to the endpoints of the expressway. They have an impact on various developing regions that it passes through, namely Wardha, Amravati, Akola, Washim, Jalna, Buldhana, Aurangabad, Nashik, etc. The expressway will catalyse the development of industrial corridors between Mumbai and Nagpur. It will establish direct connectivity of dry ports at Wardha and Jalna to DMICDC/DFC Connectivity to JNPT. Afcons is proud to work on two packages in this entire corridor which are highly structure-intensive and complex. This re-emphasises the organisation’s philosophy of extreme engineering and construction. In the entire Sahyadri region, the tunnels and allied expressway works have set a benchmark for further road projects in the future and how to estimate tunnel construction timing and project estimates precisely. By completing the PKG-2 in Wardha, Afcons has once again re-established our philosophy of completing projects on time or ahead of schedule. Repeatedly, Afcons has delivered high-value and big-ticket surface transport projects ahead of schedule be it Jammu-Udhampur Highway, which is the fastest hill road project in NHAI’s history, two packages in Agra-Lucknow Expressway including major structures like multiple bridges over River Ganga, complex ROBs and viaducts, or being the first among all contractors to complete the package in the just inaugurated Samruddhi Expressway. In all these, we have not only displayed our project management skills but also our ability to innovate under constraints. Value engineering, project planning, and the use of technology are at the forefront of all our projects which gives us the confidence to tackle any project of any length, of any value, in any region. The early completion of package-2 in Samruddhi Mahamarg is a vindication of our extreme engineering capabilities which reassures our commitment to our client and all other stakeholders. The next attraction in this Samruddhi Corridor is the mega tunnels at Igatpuri and we are extremely proud to complete India’s widest and Maharashtra’s longest road tunnels in a record time of two years without any LTI.

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