Rex Fuels in association with CSIR-CRRI organised a National Conference on Bitumen & Road Sector with the theme ‘New Technologies for Better Roads’ on 25th November 2021 at Taj Palace, New Delhi. The event, which saw over 250 delegates and participants, also celebrated CSIR-CRRI’s Platinum Jubilee year and its endeavours over the years to make Indian roads better.
The objective of the conference was to introduce new technologies that would expedite socio-economic development; bring together leading players from across the Bitumen & Modified Bitumen value chain; along with Government agencies and regulatory bodies, and new technology companies, to share their learnings and experiences, and meet potential business partners.
As the rapidly growing Asian countries are developing their road networks, bridges, and public infrastructure, the Bitumen and Petro products industries are poised to grow at a fast pace. But there are concerns about the supply-demand mismatch and the capability to meet demands (the issue was discussed at length during the conference).
Another topic of discussion was the comparison between various technologies in Bitumen Roads (flexible pavements) since most markets see Bitumen as environment-friendly, sustainable and an economically viable product. The need for more Research and Development on Bitumen modification was also discussed for making safer and longer lasting roads.
The Conference addressed many other industry issues like challenges in adopting new technologies; stakeholders responsible for slow progress and developments; bitumen adulteration during transportation; utilization of industrial waste in road construction; recycling of waste; concerns on plastic waste segregation and processing, and more.
Solutions and suggestions were presented by the speakers for sustainable and speedy construction. For instance, giving a rating to the contractor/concessionaire, which would help during the tendering; and setting up of institutes for segregation of plastic waste (a big issue confronting the sector). Besides these, several measures, materials, and technologies were presented and discussed to reduce carbon emissions into the environment.
The welcome address was given by Rexy Ravindran, M.D, Rex Fuels and President of the Bitumen Forum, which was followed by an inaugural address by the Hon’ble Minister of Road Transport and Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari, who encouraged the industry to come up with more sustainable technologies for speedy and durable road construction.
Prof. Satish Chandra, Director, CRRI, in his keynote address briefed the attendees on the latest research going on in the various departments of CSIR-CRRI with respect to the design, construction and maintenance of roads and runways, management of roads in different terrains, utilization of industrial waste in road construction, rehabilitation of highways, etc, and on the technical and consultancy services being given by the Institute to various user organizations in India and abroad. He also mentioned about the innovative equipment & machinery which CSIR-CRRI get customized by the manufacturers as per the need of the institute.
Dr. Ambika Behl, Principal Scientist & HOD Flexible Pavement at CRRI, gave a presentation on new technologies and challenges in flexible pavement. She highlighted the three key challenges facing the industry: the rapid depletion of raw materials, increase in demand of environment-friendly paving mixtures, and premature pavement failure. She shared an in-depth analysis of the solutions being worked upon by the CRRI in association with regulatory bodies and road construction companies.
Presentations were also given by Atasi Das, HOD (PMG Division) Asst. VP- GR Infraprojects, on Perpetual Pavement – Quality Control and Assurance; Prof Hussain Bahia (Technical advisor to BITCOL) on Bitumen Modification Technologies; Dr Rajib B Mallick, Professor, Civil Engineering - IIT Delhi, on High Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) Content Recycling; and by Akhilesh Srivastava, Ex CGM -NHAI on AI Technology in Infrastructure projects. A book on ‘AI Technology in Infrastructure Projects’ by Akhilesh Srivastava was also launched at this platform.
The event also saw two panel discussions on ‘Implementation of new technologies in road sector’ with panellists R.K Pandey, Member Projects at NHAI; S.K Nirmal, Secretary-General -IRC; Prof Satish Chandra, Director at CRRI; and Sudhakara Rao, Ex Executive Director-HPCL.
The other panel discussion was on ‘Issues faced by road construction companies’ with panellists Manoj Tipnis, Chief Executive – L&T Infra Engineering; Sunil Sapru, Regional Director, Ammann India, and Jitendra Kumar Das, Executive Director, LEA Associates South Asia. Both the sessions were moderated by Dr Ambika Behl.