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Equipped for concrete roads


India’s ambitious road development programme entails thousands of kilometres of concrete roads. In this brief report, Niranjan Mudholkar finds out that our road building equipment industry is ready with the machines required for this task

Of the total road length of nearly 2000 km in the city of Mumbai, approximately 25% is concretised.

This one fourth concretised road network – which includes the famed Marine Drive – has over the years proved its superiority in terms of serviceability as well as longevity over the remaining bituminous roads in the city for several years. Comparatively, the overall national road network of more than three million km roads has very little of concrete roads – just about 2%. Particularly in the context of our ambitious road development programme, this actually provides an immense opportunity for building concrete roads going ahead. While cement companies are already ready and committed to this task (see our section on Roads & Highways in this issue), the equipment industry too has the wherewithal to meet the huge requirements.

For example, Wirtgen offers a broad range of slipform pavers for paving concrete roads and even for offset applications and airport paving etc. The company also offers texturing and curing machine required for the surface treatment of the concrete pavement. While the concept of concrete roads is not very recent in India, as Ramesh P, CEO & MD, Wirtgen India Pvt Ltd says the company pioneered concrete paving in India in a way and started its Indian campaign way back in 1998 with the prestigious Mumbai-Pune Expressway. “Since then our slipform pavers have been used in several projects including for the Golden Quadrilateral project,” Ramesh adds.

RS Raghavan, MD, Proman Infrastructure Services Pvt Ltd does agree that concrete roads are much more expensive compared to tar roads and that they require better material and equipment. But he expresses confident that India definitely has the expertise to build a strong concrete road network given its long-term advantages. Giving the example of his company, Raghavan, says that it can provide some of the highest quality aggregate and sand which are the key ingredients in producing concrete roads. “Our USP is to provide innovative crushing solutions with our collaborations in technology from world class crushing and screening equipment. We are known for providing crushing solutions, which are customized to the segment or industry,” he says.

Speaking about his company’s USP, Ramesh says that Wirtgen offers just the right machine for different applications. “For inset road applications, we offer machine for different widths starting from 1.5m to 18m wide. Due to its high degree of automation and reliable technology, Wirtgen slipform pavers need a small operating crew compared to other construction methods. Wirtgen slipform paver range sets new standards as a multi-purpose machine for offset concrete paving in monolithic profile viz: curb, curb & gutter, sidewalks, crash barriers with or without reinforcement, retaining walls, etc.,” he says. These machines are capable of producing profiles of most diverse geometries, to comply with various national standards or can be customized to create nearly any given shape.

Wirtgen slipform pavers have also been used in projects like the Indore Bypass, Dewas Bypass as well as in the ongoing North-South, East-West Corridor NHDP projects. “Our slipform pavers are presently being used on the prestigious ‘Yamuna Expressway’ connecting Noida and Agra with the paving width of 15.70m in a single pass, the first of its kind in India,” informs Ramesh. Proman’s equipment too have been used in several key projects by reputed road building firms like IVRCL and IRB Infrastructures.

As Raghavan points out, the Indian equipment industry catering to road building has evolved in the last one decade. “Many of the equipments which had duty exemption are now being manufactured to world standards in India. India definitely has the expertise to achieve the road building plan of 20 km per day although there are many challenges like land acquisition and funding,” he remarks.

Obviously, our government and road building industry will overcome these challenges. And given the long-term benefits of concrete roads, we can expect a major portion of the national road network to be concretised. After all, India is equipped for it.

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June 2020
10 Jun 2020