The growth of the tunnel construction in the country has been driven by a robust pipeline of projects and investments in setting up hydropower projects, developing urban mass rapid transit systems, improving road and rail connectivity, constructing underground crude oil storage, and upgrading water supply and sewerage systems.
Sunil Sharma, Chief Manager – Technical, Tunnelling Association of India
Tunnel construction in the country has picked up pace in the past four-five years on account of an increased number of projects involving longer tunnel lengths, and in some of the world’s most difficult terrain conditions. The scope of tunnel projects is also expanding as a result of growing urbanisation and the rising demand for better infrastructure. While the railway sector was the first to undertake tunnel development, the maximum number of tunnels have been developed in the hydropower sector. Tunnels for supply of water received a boost with the launch of programs such as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, and the Interlinking of Rivers program for the exploitation of water resources. The roads and highways sector witnessed limited tunnel construction, with some in hilly regions. Metro rail tunnelling is a recent phenomenon and has been spurred by the decision of dense cities to develop efficient public mass transport systems.