Mr Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways and MSME, Govt of India said that the policy of the government is to ensure reduction in construction costs and improving the quality of road construction.
Addressing the two-day Virtual Conference and Exhibition for the Bitumen and Road Construction, ‘BITU-CON 2020’, organized by FICCI, Mr Gadkari said, “We need to reduce the construction cost and improve quality without compromising on it. We are working on it but more needs to be done.”
He also urged the industry to increase the use of plastic and rubber wastes in road construction, which is also necessary as it helps the environment. Apart from this, the use of waste products like oil slags from steel plants and flash should also be encouraged. “Industry should also use local produce, like jute or coir, and waste products in road construction, which not only increases the life of the road but also gives a better riding experience. We will come up with a pattern design system for precast,” said Mr Gadkari.
Elaborating on the use of technology, Mr Gadkari also asked the industry to adopt world-class technologies in road construction. He further suggested the industry to come up with a plan with a 10-year Defect Liability period for constructing bitumen roads, which currently is for 5 years. “If the industry comes up with the world’s best technology and 10-year defect liability period, the government will then fully support and ensure that all benefits are given to you (the industry),” he said.
Assuring the industry of full government support, Mr Gadkari said, “We are open-minded, transparent, time-bound, result-oriented, and committed to quality. Come and convince us and we are ready to give you permissions.” He emphasized that if we improve on the quality then the share of bitumen roads will increase from gram panchayats to district roads, state highways, and national highways and we must encourage this.
Mr Gadkari further stated that despite COVID-19, the government has been constructing roads at 30 km per day and speedily awarding the contracts as well. “Our speed has increased during COVID-19, instead of reducing,” he added.
Dr Sangita Reddy, President, FICCI said that despite the challenges faced by COVID-19, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has surpassed its target for the construction of national highways in the country.
“There is going to be a huge focus on the construction industry in the coming years. Technology innovations, artificial intelligence, process innovations, use of superior engineering practices, employing high standards in quality control, and most importantly, establishing enhanced harmony between the private and the public sectors will redefine this sector,” she added.
Mr BVN Rao, Chair, FICCI Transport Infrastructure Committee and Business Chairman (Transport & Urban Infra), GMR Group said that India’s road infrastructure has seen consistent improvement in the last few years. He said that connectivity has improved, and road transportation has become a focus of rapid development. “The growing demand for infrastructure in the country will majorly drive the Indian bitumen market,” he added.
Mr Shailesh Pathak, Co-Chair, FICCI Transport Infrastructure Committee and CEO, L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Ltd said that concrete road with bitumen surfacing or bitumen road with a 10-year Defect Liability will be encouraged. “It is both a challenge and an opportunity for us to reduce costs while improving quality,” he added. Mr Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI moderated the session.