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India Needs World Class Roads - Enough Scope For Cement Industry To Meet Road Construction Requirement: Kamal Nath

15th Jan 2010
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National Seminar on Concrete Roads

India has formidable Highways programme with opportunities for all stakeholders: Secretary, Road Transport and HighwaysDelivering the Inaugural Address at the National Seminar on Concrete Highway Projects organized by CII and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Government of India, here today, Mr Kamal Nath, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, said that if the highways programme of India looks at incremental usage of concrete then the Cement Industry in India must assure adequate capacity and supply as the additional demand from new roads projects is considerable. Commenting on the current performance of the Cement Industry the Minister noted that the sector was doing well.

Mr Kamal Nath further added that the cement industry has an important role to play for concrete highway projects. The Minister informed, "There is a need to have atleast 20,000 km of work-in-progress to be able to attain 20 kilometers of road building capacity per day or 7000 km of roads a year". He felt this was a huge challenge for the government and industry. According to the Minister this translates to approximately USD 50 billion of investments every year.

The Minister said that India has started manufacturing world class vehicles and therefore, the country deserved world class roads, which his Ministry was committed to build. Highlighting the importance of using the latest in improved technology and processes in this context, he said "Let us do things differently".

In his special address, Mr Brahm Dutt, Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, informed that the government’s National Highways Development Project (NHDP) was aiming at building 6 and 8 lane highways in the next 4-5 years costing over USD 80 Billion. He mentioned that an equal amount would be spent on road projects at the state level.

Mr Brahm Dutt announced that the government will implement its green field project of building 16,000 km of expressways at an investment of US 100 Billion once sufficient progress is made in the current National Highways projects. This project would be routed through the BOT mode and concrete applications would be a considerable part of the project. Mr Brahm Dutt said Government’s road building programme is formidable and offers considerable opportunity to all stakeholders including cement. He added that Expressways can be built mostly with cement but quality and supply must maintain paramount standards.

Dr Shiraz Tayabji, Senior Consultant from Fugro Consultants, USA in his address mentioned that India has made good progress in road building, adopting new techniques, technology and equipment usage. He said India is as capable of building world-class roads.In his presentation, he mentioned the advantages of concrete pavement projects over bitumen applications, saying the world can no longer afford to shut-down roads for repairs..

Mr Paul Hugentobler, Member of Executive Committee, Holcim Ltd., in his special address said "there is presently a renaissance in concrete roads". He mentioned that cement as a raw material had maintained its price level over the last couple of years as compared to asphalt. He said the cost difference between concrete and asphalt roads is narrowing and would soon be reverted. He urged the government to invest more money in developing concrete road systems and reaffirmed the readiness of the cement industry to contribute meaningfully to India’s concrete road projects. "India has achieved air and telecommunication connectivity. Now to push growth, the country must achieve physical connectivity through roads for connecting urban and rural areas", he added.

Mr Sumit Banerjee, Chairman of the CII Cement Industry Division, in his address mentioned that barely 40% of total road length is surfaced and much of this is of questionable quality. Only a paltry 2 per cent of total road length in the country is made of concrete, the rest is made largely of bitumen. He mentioned that concrete roads have a life cycle of 50 years and also help save 15% in fuel consumption. Citing norms in Europe, Mr Banerjee said, "With fly-ash based cements, it is possible for concrete roads to be cost competitive apart from this being an environment friendly practice. Concrete roads can play a useful role in the gainful deployment of a waste pollutant like fly-ash."

14th January 2010 | New Delhi

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