The report of the task force on the 111 lakh-crore National Infrastructure Pipeline lays emphasis on ensuring that all new and existing infrastructure systems are climate and disaster-resilient. How well has India adopted geosynthetic materials and advanced engineering for ensuring structural resilience of infra projects?
The aim of the National Infrastructure Pipeline is to develop more infrastructure projects and power businesses, which would also lead to job creation, improve ease of living, and provide access to modern infrastructure for all, thereby making growth more inclusive.
Modern materials such as geosynthetics have become a critical part of India’s infrastructure development due to increased awareness and a shift in demand for more sustainable and long-lasting solutions. The market in India has expanded from Rs 150-200 crore industry 10 years ago to Rs 3,000-3,500 crore, indicating greater use of such technical solutions.
Adoption of geotechnical materials and engineering has increased dramatically over the last five to six years. The government has been encouraging the infrastructure and construction industries to use sustainable materials like geosynthetics, geogrids, and geo-composites for structural resilience through guidelines, but there is currently no comprehensive policy framework in place to compel their use.
How are Maccaferri products, especially its Gabion technology, bringing improvements in civil and geotechnical construction projects?
We offer an elaborated portfolio of products and are a global leader in Gabion wall manufacturing, design, and supply. Gabion structures are basically cages made of double-twisted hexagonal woven steel wire mesh. Gabion is delivered flat-packed and constructed on-site before being filled with stones. Our variety of Gabion structures include Jumbo Gabion, Prefilled Gabion, Green Gabion, Sack Gabion, etc.
We are catering to various sectors like Agri, Military, Mining, Urban Infrastructure, Transportation Infrastructure, Energy etc, with our long-lasting, and ecologically sustainable civil engineering solutions for civil and geotechnical construction projects.
In a very challenging project - the expressway connecting Mumbai and Pune – we proposed a Gabion retaining wall in the ghat area of Lonavala for faster construction. The Lonavala area receives very heavy rainfall and Gabions were preferred due to their free draining characteristics by avoiding build-up of pore water pressure.
Another project entailed constructing a bridge across river Yamuna for a Mass Rapid Transport System, where the velocity would be very high. So, it was very important to protect the pillars of the bridge and the bed. Maccaferri developed a unique design using Gabions which proved to be both durable and economical than the stone rip-rap. The structure is very stable, and experts visit the site regularly to monitor the situation
What projects does the FY 2021-22 order book hold for Maccaferri India, and what new opportunities would you tap to expand your order book in FY 22-23?
While we are supplying our products and solutions across India, the important ones are in the geologically vulnerable regions. Given that the government wants to have rail connectivity even in the most remote areas, we will adopt or introduce new technologies for such projects. One such project is the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, which has several important aspects, one of which is the design and building of a reinforced soil embankment at the Katra-Dharam segment.
Maccaferri is also giving its solutions to the GMR Goa International Airport, where for building a platform for constructing the Airport, retention structures are needed at five points, close to the boundary walls.
Maccaferri is collaborating with NHAI to plan, supply, and oversee the installation of RS walls on many stretches of NH 5 and NH 709. We took on the challenge of building an embarkment on fine-grained soil for the Gangapath project in Patna, which has low sheer strength, high settlement, and liquefaction susceptibility. We have also worked on a few projects with BRO.
Many new infrastructure projects are in the pipeline as the Indian government plans to strengthen the country’s infrastructure and simultaneously reach its net-zero carbon emission target. Together with other stakeholders, we see opportunities to make a difference with our cutting-edge solutions.
Given the damages to critical infrastructure due to climate change and man-made causes, do you think there should be a government policy to mandate use of geosynthetics, geogrids, and geo-composites?
Yes, adopting such advanced materials needs to be a top priority for the building and construction industry. It is important that any proposed solutions include both the improvement of quality of life and the preservation of the environment as the primary goals.
For a given problem or any number of given problems, one has to adopt the best solution depending on what the specific circumstances are. There are guidelines from the government’s end which are coming thick and fast. In my opinion, framing a policy would not be a workable alternative because the products, materials, and technology used will rely on the topography of the project being built.
However, during filing of tenders, the government is giving guidelines on material quality and recommendations on eco-friendly construction practices. But the greater responsibility lies with the consultants and contractors who must tackle the construction challenges and come up with the most sustainable solutions.