A S Khanna, Chairman of SSPC India, shares a comprehensive outlook on the evolution of India’s infrastructure, transcending conventional boundaries and delving into the realms of space for a holistic approach to future-proofing the nation.

India, a country with a rich history and diverse landscape, is currently at the forefront of an infrastructure revolution. This transformation is driven by the need to meet the growing demands of its population and ensure a sustainable and efficient future. This article discusses the challenges and opportunities associated with reinforcing India’s infrastructure growth.

The need for comprehensive infrastructure

The speaker highlighted the essential components of a country’s infrastructure, emphasizing roads, railways, metros, bridges, flyovers, airports, and even space-related facilities. The speaker acknowledged the significant progress made in the last decade, attributing it to a more systematic approach by both state and central governments.

Positive developments

One of the notable achievements highlighted was the improvement in highway construction. A comparison between 2015 and 2022 showcased a positive trend, indicating a substantial increase in the speed and scale of infrastructure development. The speaker emphasized that while progress has been made, there is still room for improvement, especially in states where infrastructure development lags.

Metros as a solution to urban transport challenges

The escalating population in India’s cities has led to significant challenges in urban transport. The speaker expressed optimism about the positive impact of metro systems. Currently, over 40 percent of the country benefits from well-functioning metro systems, and plans are underway to expand this network further. The example of Mumbai, where 11 metro projects are simultaneously in progress, illustrates the commitment of governments to ease urban transportation woes.

Railways: From special trains to high-speed bullet trains

The significance of railways in India’s vast landscape cannot be overstated. The speaker reminisced about the chaotic schedules and crowded trains during special events in the past. However, a paradigm shift is evident, with the introduction of high-speed bullet trains and the successful implementation of 41 Vande Bharat trains connecting the nation from east to west and north to south.

Strategic planning for bridges and tunnels

The successful execution of projects like the Atal Tunnel, connecting Manali to Ladakh, was highlighted as an exemplary achievement. The emphasis was on the meticulous planning and collaboration required to construct complex infrastructural elements like bridges and tunnels. The speaker also praised recent projects, including sea links in Mumbai, showcasing the importance of dedicated planning and resources.

Challenges in infrastructure development

While progress is evident, the speaker candidly addressed challenges that could hamper the effectiveness of India’s infrastructure. Encroachment on roads, lack of adherence to rules, and inadequate maintenance were identified as critical issues. The speaker called for strict regulations to combat encroachment and emphasized the need for effective maintenance strategies to preserve the longevity of infrastructure.

Airports: Addressing the soaring demand

With an increasing population and rising income levels, air travel has become more accessible. The speaker highlighted the need for extensive planning and management as almost 29 airports are in the process or proposal stage. This underscores the requirement for skilled professionals and efficient material usage to meet the demands of a growing aviation sector.

Looking beyond Earth: Space infrastructure

The discussion extended beyond terrestrial infrastructure to explore space-related facilities. The speaker noted plans to leverage space infrastructure for day-to-day management, with ten initiatives planned from 2024 to 2035. This forward-thinking approach demonstrates India’s commitment to exploring innovative solutions for holistic infrastructure development.

As India propels itself toward a US$5 trillion economy, the importance of robust infrastructure cannot be overstated. The challenges discussed serve as a call to action for policymakers, citizens, and professionals to collaborate in ensuring the seamless development and maintenance of infrastructure. With strategic planning, adherence to regulations, and a collective effort, India can look forward to a future where sustainable infrastructure is the backbone of progress.

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