G. Venkat Prasad, Director Operations, DFII
G. Venkat Prasad, Director Operations, DFII, emphasizes the need for implementing global best practices and technologies in geotechnical and foundation construction for effective project implementation.

India is in a fast-forward mode: the country is implementing mega infrastructure projects on the back of the Government’s conducive policies that are providing considerable impetus to the Indian construction industry. Highways are under rapid expansion. The rate of highway completion achieved stood at 37 Km for the financial year 2021 comparing to 7.9 Km for the decade ending 2016. Railway infrastructure picked up pace with the unveiling of Vision 2020 in 2009 and many projects were started.

Dedicated freight corridors in the east and west sectors covering a length of 3300 km and involving an investment of close to Rs 1 lakh crores, are being completed. A further length of the 7000 km DFC is planned for access to other regions in the future. And there is the first high-speed rail project connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad covering a length of 500 km and involving a capital investment of Rs 1 lakh crore. At least, 12 more corridors are envisaged to be taken up in the future. While ~702 km of conventional metro rail is operational, another 1,016 km of metro rail and RRTS projects are under construction in 27 cities.

The Government plans to operationalise 100 additional airports worth Rs 1.43 trillion by 2023-24. Huge investments are being infused in power projects, irrigation & water supply, ports, urban infrastructure, and real estate development.

However, the complexities and challenges of mega-size project execution are growing. Our inability to build contractual capabilities, augment R&D efforts to bring new construction technologies, and address skilled workforce demand, is hurting the interests of the construction industry. Add to that, Government constraints concerning land acquisition and other policy-related matters are resulting in the recurring phenomenon of severe project time/cost overuruns.

Further, the many unknowns of sub-soil strata and our inability to implement global best practices and technologies in geotechnical and foundation construction, is impacting the timely delivery of major infrastructure projects.

Thanks to our affiliation with Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) of USA (which has contributed to several advancements the world over during the last 40 years), a slow transformation in deep foundation practices in India has begun, especially so after DFI of India initiated a few programs over the last four years.

We are happy that the who’s who of the Indian foundation industry are coming forward with their contributions at the DFII programs and their number is growing steadily. In fact, we have generated support from all the stakeholders like owners, consultants, contractors, foundation equipment manufacturers, material suppliers, and academicians in the specialised areas of geotechnical and foundation industry.

DFII efforts include implementing CFA pile technology, a five-day soil laboratory technician training and certification program, promoting good geotechnical investigation practices, professional development programs for design/planning/field engineers covering the entire gamut of deep foundation technologies, training programs for piling rig operators, programs for empowering students and women professionals interested in geotechnical engineering. We are seeing significant progress and we plan to initiate more such programs, going ahead, all of which will definitely have a profound impact on the deep foundation industry of India.

The DFII team is gearing up to hold a 3-day conference during 15th to 17th Sept ‘22 at Tirupati, jointly with IIT Tirupati and the IGS Tirupati chapter. Professionals look forward to attending this annual event as it covers case studies and keynote presentations by experts from top global and Indian companies. Based on the excellent response we have received over the years, we are hopeful to see this physical event as a grand success after two years.

We have signed a media partnership agreement with NBM&CW for DFII programs and as per this understanding, a special issue of their September ‘22 monthly magazine is being brought out, which will cover interviews and articles by Theresa Engler, Executive Director of DFI, I.V. Anirudhan, Chairman of DFII, Mohan Ramanthan, Vice Chairman of DFII, company heads of Keller India, Bauer, L&T – the key sponsors of the conference - and other prominent professionals from the industry who are contributing to the success of the DFII program.

We are thankful to all the active supporters of DFII’s mission, which motivates us to do more for its speedy realization. We are hopeful that the views expressed by them on remedies for the current ills of geotechnical and foundation construction practices will be well received by the readers of this special issue.
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