Over the last few decades, mega structures have continued to evolve in India with modern era technology and designing, playing a pivotal role in the enhancement of these structures. The initial idea was to address issues of connectivity across the difficult geography of India and provide easy access to the large population across the country. Most of the mega projects executed in the past had enhanced interstate and intercity connectivity, helping to bridge Rural-Urban gap. But recently, the focus is not only to connect but also to optimise the available resources and provide world class infrastructure even in the most difficult terrains. With few of the most promising upcoming projects such as Sagar Mala, Mumbai - Ahmedabad Bullet Train, Zoji-la Tunnel, and Hyperloop One, India is set to witness a paradigm shift in the way these mega structured are created using the best of the technology and resources.


Sagar Mala Project

India has a 7,500 km long coastline and 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways. 12 major and 200 non-major ports located along the Western and Eastern coastlines have so far been responsible for 90% of India's trade by volume. Over 1 billion tonnes of cargo were handled across Indian ports in Financial Year FY 2015-16. Projected cargo volume by 2025 is estimated to be over 2.5 billion tonnes – this massive increase calls for substantial capacity augmentation of the existing ports and building of new ports in the next 10 years. (Source: http://www.makeinindia.com)

Sagar Mala project is a strategic and customer-oriented initiative of the Government of India to modernize India's existing Ports, development of new ones and enhancement of connectivity between ports so that the port-led development can be augmented and coastlines can be developed to contribute to India's growth.

Out of the 415 projects that have been identified, 189 are aimed at port modernisation (estimated to cost around Rs 1.4 lakh-crore), 170 for connectivity enhancement (costing Rs 2.3 lakh-crore), 33 for port-linked industrialization (costing Rs 4.2 lakh-crore) and 23 for coastal community development (Rs 4,000 crore). (Source: http://www.makeinindia.com)

The project would transform the logistic sector and change the lives of those living along the 7,500 km coastline in the country. The Government is implementing the Sagar Mala project with an objective to exploit the coastline to benefit logistic transport sector.

While logistics costs in India currently stand at 19% of GDP, the Sagarmala Programme aims at unleashing the potential of Indian ports to reduce costs and hence boost the country's trade competitiveness.

India's first Bullet Train

India commenced the work of its much hyped first bullet train - the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) - on September 14, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone together. Funded by the Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA), this project will be the biggest change Indian Railways witnessed in the post-Independence India.

The most obvious benefit of MAHSR will be an Indian manufacturing and software ecosystem for the Railways. The Japan external trade organisation (JETRO) will be assisting the Indian government in identifying potential areas for ‘Make in India' localisation.

  • Expansion possibilities

    New production bases and townships will eventually expand along the MAHSR. The trickle-down effects of opening avenues for cheaper housing, logistics hubs, and industrial units along the route will benefit smaller towns and cities. The districts of Palghar in Maharashtra and Valsad in Gujarat, along with the Union Territory of Daman, will have a great shot at attracting new investments and amenities.

    Construction activity will boost allied industries such as steel, cement and infrastructure. This will translate into additional logistics and warehousing demand. It is estimated that an additional annual cement demand of two million tonnes and steel demand of five lakh tonnes will be generated over four years by the MAHSR project. This will help near-term economic growth, which has been sluggish in the last few quarters.

  • Jobs and skills

    New temporary and permanent jobs will also be created with most of the manufacturing, from components to rolling stock, done in India. The construction phase will create employment opportunities for about 20,000 people. After the commissioning of the project, there will be job openings for 4,000 for the operation and maintenance of the line. Further, some 16,000 indirect employment opportunities are expected to be generated.

    The HSR systems offer reliability of operations, not affected by bad weather or congestion, which impact road and air traffic. Once commissioned, 40,000 commuters are expected to use the service every day. This will decongest the conventional rail, road, and air traffic between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Zoji-la Tunnel

Zoji-la Tunnel will be a yet another milestone project by IL&FS Transportation Network in the state of Jammu & Kashmir after its much acclaimed Chenani-Nashri tunnel project in the same State. Zoji-la pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578-ft on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway. The upcoming 14-km long road tunnel along with Z-Morh Tunnel (22-Km long) will ensure year long road connectivity between Srinagar and Leh which currently remains closed for about seven months due to snow. The tunnel will be built at an altitude of 3,528 metres, will provide an alternative to the national highway.

People in Leh and Ladakh region face severe crisis during the winter season when they are cut-off from the rest of India for more than six months.

The tunnel will be built under EPC mode (engineering, procurement, construction) wherein the Government of India will provide the money and the executor will do the construction and will later hand over the project to the Government of India.

Hyperloop One

One of the best examples of advance technology for quicker connectivity across cities, Hyperloop One is a pod-based terrestrial transportation system that moves people and goods at unprecedented speeds safely, efficiently, and sustainably through its patented technology using near-vacuum tubes.

This transformational technology is currently in the early stages of the commercialisation phase and have already successfully completed the test of world's first full scale hyperloop systems at their DevLoop site outside Las Vegas. The California based firm has already declared its first venture in India after signing the MoU with Andhra Pradesh government to connect Amravati and Vijaywada which will reduce an hour long trip to a mere 5 minute trip. Once the feasibility aspects of this project are studied, the project is set to start in the next six months. Recently, the company has also engaged in talks with Karnataka and Maharashtra governments as well and signed the MoU in lines with that of Andhra Pradesh.

Though it's a nascent technology yet unproven, the excitement around hyperloop is incredible and with the fact that multiple state governments in India are looking forward to enhance it only shows a shift in the thought process towards high-tech and also establish the increase in confidence to build and execute such projects.

With India being one of the most important geographies, the company wishes to develop hyperloop networks and reimagining the complete transportation system.

All the above mega projects clearly indicate that geographical challenges can be surpassed and natural resources amalgamated with advance technology can be put to good use to achieve growth. Projects like Bullet rail and Sagar Mala really reflect the ambitious nature of India as a country. Presently, India is almost $ 2.5 trillion economy. Brazil, on the other hand, which is only as big as that of Uttar Pradesh state, is also a $ 2 trillion economy. It goes to show the kind of growth potential that every Indian state has got it in them and India as a whole can surely become $ 10 trillion economy in the next 15-20 years or so. With India's young and aspiring population, the economy is set to outpace every nation in the World. For that to happen, India should continue to have a long-term vision and put its mega structure plans on a fast track mode. (Source: https://www.weforum.org/)

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