How infra development is shaping India story

A look at the state-of-the-art mega infrastructure projects undertaken by Modi government


Geetanjali Minhas | May 7, 2024 | Mumbai

#Business   #Economy   #Infrastructure   #Narendra Modi  

India is the world’s fifth largest economy with a GDP of USD 3.7 trillion today, and it is expected to become the third largest economy with a GDP of USD 5 trillion in five years. The Narendra Modi-led government aims to make India a developed country by 2047. A key driver of this economic growth and overall development is the infrastructure sector that has received intense focus from this government.

Over the last 10 years, the government has constructed more than 31,000 kms of railway tracks, achieved 94% railways electrification, introduced new-age semi-high-speed trains, is in the process of modernising over 1,300 railway stations, has expanded metro services to 20+ cities, constructed 3.7 lakh kms of rural roads under PM Gram Sadak Yojana, created 84 new airports, doubled the capacity of the ports as well as the number of operational airports in India and operationalised dedicated freight corridors. With over 55,000 kms of highways today constructed over the last decade India has the world’s second-largest road network, behind only the United States.
Some mega infrastructure projects implemented by the government include:

1. Atal Tunnel or Rohtang Tunnel: The world’s longest single tube highway tunnel at an altitude of 10,000 feet in Himachal Pradesh was inaugurated by the PM in October 2020. The 9.2 kms long and 10 metres wide, horseshoe-shaped, all-weather tunnel is strategically important for the army in the border areas. The project had been stuck since 2000.
Construction cost: Rs 3,200 crore
2. Chenab Bridge in Jammu: The world’s tallest railway bridge is 1.3 kms long steel and concrete structure, 1,178 feet above the Chenab river and an engineering feat built over in the challenging Himalayan terrain. It is part of the Rs 35,000 crore Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramullah railway link to improve connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a boon for the armed forces too. It is earthquake- and blast-proof. Many international agencies along with Indian institutions like IITs, DRDO, and the Geological Survey of India have contributed to its execution. The Chenab bridge will provide all-weather connectivity to Kashmir Valley. Construction of the bridge started in 2004, and the arch was completed in 2021. The bridge was inaugurated by the PM in February 2022.
Construction cost: Around Rs 14,000 crore (including Rs 1,486 crore for the arch)

3. The Bogibeel bridge in Assam: It is India’s longest rail-cum road bridge. The 4.94 kms bridge over the Brahmaputra river is the country’s first fully welded steel bridge with no joints. It is significant for economic and strategic reasons for the country. It is also Asia’s second longest rail and road bridge. Its foundation was laid in 1997 and it was inaugurated by the PM December 2018.
Construction cost: Rs 5,920 crore

4. Dhola-Sadiya Bridge or Bhupen Hazarika Bridge: It is 9.15 kms beam bridge over the Brahmaputra and the first permanent road connection between northern Assam and eastern Arunachal Pradesh. The strategically important bridge is an important tactical asset for transportation of goods and services for the army. Its construction began in 2011, and it was inaugurated by the PM in May 2017.
Construction cost: Rs 2,056 crore

5. Atal Setu Bridge (MTHL): The 21.8 kms six-lane bridge is India’s longest elevated sea bridge (and also the world’s 12th longest sea bridge). It has reduced travel time between the congested Mumbai and Navi Mumbai route from two hours to only 20 minutes. Its foundation stone was laid in 2016 and it was inaugurated by the PM in January 2024.
Construction cost: Rs 18,000 crore  

6. Mumbai Coastal Road: The 10.58 kms high-speed corridor between Marine Drive and Bandra Worli Sea Link has been partially opened, and it has reduced travel time from South Mumbai to Worli from 40 minutes to 10 minutes. This first-of-its-kind project in India was constructed entirely on land reclaimed from sea and stands on Monopoles exclusively. In sections, it is built on bridges and 2.7 kms twin tunnels with diameter of 12.19 metres 20 metres under the shore of Arabian Sea and 70 metres under Malabar Hill.  The project was conceptualised and initiated in 2011 but got stuck due to various challenges. Work started on the project in 2018. The Coastal Road was partially inaugurated in March 2024 and expected to be fully operational this month.
Project cost: Rs 13,983 crore
To know more about the last of the above, Geetanjali Minhas of Governance Now spoke with EA Padmanabhan, DGM, Mumbai Coastal Road Project, at Larsen and Toubro, the infrastructure behemoth behind several mega national projects including this one.

You can watch this conversation here too:

Sharing his experiences of this project, Padmanabhan said the Coastal Road includes India’s first under-sea tunnel and that too with the largest outer diameter of 12.19 metres and an inner diameter of 11 metres. A three-lane carriageway inside the tunnel is also the first of its kind. The tunnel boring machine had to be assembled and optimised which itself was a challenge at a time when the pandemic restrictions were in place and required resources including oxygen were not easily available.

“To our credit we had 483 metres of tunnel being bored in a single month which was a Guinness Book of World Records. We achieved a landmark there,” he said.

Padmanabhan also said that adoption of Monopole technology was both time- and cost-effective. He recalled that due to rough weather conditions during the reclamation phase and with a seawall abetting the coastline etc, operating of equipments posed a challenge. Additionally, transportation of materials and coordination into the site was a problem as South Mumbai has a lot of VIP movements and with traffic restrictions they had to operate mostly at night.

Having worked earlier in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries on projects like Burj Khalifa Development, Atlantis Hotel in Al Jumeraih, and the Haj Terminal in Jeddah, Padmanabhan said the key to any project is the sequence of build which should be integrated with proper logistical plan and a lot of the analysis has gone into that. “Precast technology is very useful in getting things done very quick time. One, it is precast in the yard and second we use a crane to launch it called launching girder where we launch the segments with straight stretches of bridges. In curved profile we cast it at the same place.”

He said a lot of pre-engineering work is done before they actually hit the ground with required equipments and resources. “We do macro planning with task briefing, exact requirements and time lines which means we exactly know what we are doing on every single day and exactly within a given timeline frame, where exactly we are going to start we know very well. We also use a lot of technological innovations in our constructions and our equipments deliver projects at very good speeds. Construction is all about getting the elements in place like in a jigsaw puzzle. You have to work out your sequence of build so that sequence of build would be cost effective, within the timeline.”

Padmanabhan said that especially in under-construction Bullet Train Project or Dedicated Freight Corridor or even in MTHL Project, at L&T they have adopted same methodology using pre-cast technology to expedite work.

For construction in hostile conditions and challenging terrains, Padmanabhan said a geotechnical investigation has to be done on the substrata to establish that the structure stands on a firm footing and stands the test of time. It can resist earthquakes and other natural calamities.

He added that even for the coastal road project, the pattern of tides was studied and the worst condition was found to be close to 8 metres high. “We have built our walls close to 11 or 12 metres so we are three to four metres above the worst title conditions,” he said.

“It is all down to the choice of equipments to be able to deliver mega projects. What L&T can achieve, very few companies can. We have the capacity and resources to accomplish any project of any magnitude of any scale. Whatever challenges may come our way, we are well prepared to successfully implement our projects,” he said.

Other major infrastructure projects underway include Zojila Tunnel in Kashmir, Asia’s longest tunnel. The 13 kms long tunnel, longest of its kind at an altitude of more than 11,500 feet, is an all-weather and geo-strategically important project. It is among the 31 road tunnels being constructed in J&K and Ladakh. This tunnel will reduce the crossing time of the Zojila pass from four hours to a mere 15 minutes.

Construction on India’s longest expressway, the 1,320 kms Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, is going on and partly operational. Along with the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, the Expressway will be a vital backbone of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.    

Work on Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway, Bengaluru Ring Road, Raipur-Vishakhapatnam Economic Corridor, Char Dham Projects in Uttarakhand, Trans Arunachal Highway (NH-13, NH-15 and NH-215), Imphal-Moreh section in the Manipur, and Dimapur-Kohima section in Nagaland is also on.

Work on the Navi Mumbai International Airport and Mumbai’s first underground Metro, the 33.5 kms Aqua line, is expected to complete this year.



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