Innovative, effective solutions for safety on roads, highways: Vikramjiet Roy, MD, Maccaferri India explains

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Updated: June 18, 2021 2:07 PM

Hilly terrains are challenging for construction due to steep cuttings, soil retention, drainage, landslides which may lead to many calamities and loss of life.

Road safety, Highways safety, hilly roads, Vikramjiet Roy, Maccaferri, Geosynthetics, Rockfall ProtectionRockfall protection and natural hazard mitigation systems are key elements in the security and safety of roads.

Road safety has been one of the major concerns across India. Every year, it is observed that road accidents either on highways or hilly areas have been endangered for human lives. Hilly regions are more vulnerable to natural disasters causing landslides, debris falls, and other rock fall events, and hence, becomes critical for infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Some infrastructure firms are providing innovative solutions that offer technical expertise to deliver versatile, cost-effective, and environmentally sound solutions, which are critical in preventing such accidents in the future. In an exclusive conversation with the Financial Express Online Vikramjiet Roy, the Managing Director of Maccaferri in India and the Regional CEO of the India South East Asia Pacific (ISEAP) region at the Officine Maccaferri Group talked about how they are developing solutions to ensure safer road travels. Excerpts:

For road safety, what are the products / solutions developed by Maccaferri in India – talk on geosynthetic solutions.

We have developed unique solutions and products to curb road travel mishaps, some of the effective and efficient solutions are with the use of Geosynthetics.  The polymeric composition of geosynthetic products makes them suitable for use in the soil wherein very long-term durability is key. One such application that contributes to road safety is called Asphalt Reinforcement Geogrid. This product when used reduces the need for frequent pavement maintenance by preventing potholes and cracks in the roads.

The other example is Drainage Composites that facilitates the proper drainage in pavements and reduces the frequency of potholes and settlements. Geosynthetics have a wide range of applications and are used in many geotechnical, transportation, geo-environmental, hydraulic, and private development applications including roads, airfields, railroads, embankments, retaining structures, reservoirs, canals, dams, erosion control, sediment control, landfill liners, landfill covers, mining, aquaculture and agriculture. Geosynthetics are available in a wide range of forms and materials such as Geomembrane (MacLine), Geotextile (Mactex), High Strength Polymeric strips & geogrids for Soil Reinforcement (ParaWeb, ParaLink), Erosion control mats (MacMat), Composite products- Drainage solutions (MacDrain), etc. Other innovative and effective solutions for Roads and Highways Include:

Double Twist: For safer roads, it is important to develop innovative, durable, cost-effective and sustainable products. One of our products includes Double Twist mechanically woven wire mesh products such as – Gabions, Mattresses and Terramesh. Gabions are provided to act as embankment protection on the sides of the proposed road whereas the Terramesh System is a modular system use to form rock-faced reinforced soil walls and embankments.

Rockfall Protection: Rockfall protection and natural hazard mitigation systems are key elements in the security and safety of roads. With decades of experience, we offer a wide range of systems to stabilise rock faces, soil slopes and snow masses. Certified and tested by leading institutes and in accordance with the latest standards, our solutions are designed using state-of-the-art modelling software and techniques. Our products include Rockfall Netting, Steel Cables and High Energy Absorption Panels for rock fall Prevention, Rockfall Barriers, ErdoX, Snow Structures

Highlight of the projects (Completed and ongoing related to road safety)

We have completed many road safety projects in mountain areas and highways. One of our recently completed projects includes Lambagarh in Uttarakhand. The slides in this area are very steep and the landslides have been active since 1980s affecting traffic in every monsoon. The site is located on a path taken by yatris to the Amarnath caves and every year they have been exposed to the greater danger of constant and unpredictable slides in this spot. We worked with the client to construct a flexible reinforced soil wall with a customized methodology and products including gabions as facia (Maccaferri’ s Terramesh® system) and high strength geogrid (ParaLink®) as reinforcement towards the valley side for shifting the road from its current position. The stones and backfill material were locally sourced. Also, we successfully completed Mumbai Pune Expressway Project by constructing gabion walls. During monsoon, this area experiences rockfalls, and becomes slippery causing traffic and road mishaps. It was necessary to address this situation and therefore, we designed gabion walls and retaining walls. We have also successfully provided mitigation solutions for rockfall protection in the Lonavla stretch of the Expressway. There are multiple other road safety projects ongoing in Uttarakhand which we are aiming to close before the onset of monsoon.

Vikramjiet Roy, the Managing Director of Maccaferri in India and the Regional CEO of the India South East Asia Pacific (ISEAP) region at the Officine Maccaferri Group

Maccaferri in India’s contribution towards Road construction

As mentioned, we focus on developing innovative products and solutions which deliver sustainability, cost-effectiveness and simplicity in construction. In India, durable and performing road construction is highly imperative.  With civil engineering construction as our core strength, we at Maccaferri, pave our way to strengthen our offerings in road construction by developing effective solutions. These include:

  • Designing flexible and robust Paramesh structures for soil retention structure for roads across India
  • We also adopt alternative technology which helps in the reduction of natural resources for road construction by improving quality & faster construction.
  • Soil stabilisation & pavement solution for longer life.
  • Steel slope stabilization
  • River training and bank protection
  • Rockfall protection solutions for safer roads

What geographical challenges the company face in ensuring road safety?

There are multiple geographical challenges involved in ensuring road safety. First and foremost, is the still slow (although well increased in comparison to a decade back) pace of adoption and mass implementation of globally proven technologies like Asphalt Reinforcement, Drainage Composites, Basal Reinforcement Base and Sub-base stabilization, etc. which could significantly improve the quality and long term maintenance of the Roads and Highways being built in the different geographies of our large nation. Then, is the seasonal impact – any projects in hilly terrains take a longer duration to complete. Due to the rainy or winter season these projects are constrained to a shorter working period. Third is the lack of education and skilled manpower. This is one of the biggest challenges which is faced by a lot of industries in India. India has resources and labour, but they lack knowledge and skills for innovative solutions provided by us. Many of the projects or activities involve skilled knowledge and expert handling. It is necessary to address this and develop a solution that benefits everyone. Hence, to ensure road safety, we need to train and educate the labour, contractors and consultants with better solutions & measures. Lastly, there are limited access points in remote areas which affects delivery of materials.

Tell us more about Maccaferri in India, its offerings, and services.

Maccaferri India, is the subsidiary of the world-renowned Officine Maccaferri Group. Maccaferri started its operations in India in 1998 and has a team of highly specialized professionals trained in designing and solving complex problems in the civil engineering, geotechnical and environmental construction markets. Our offerings are diversified to multiple sectors such as Transportation & Urban Infrastructure, Environmental Protection, Mining, Emergency & Flood, Energy, Military, River Control Works and many more. Our core purpose is to be the Sherpa on the imagination-to-implementation journey and make our nation a leader in sustainable infrastructure solutions with the objective of building an India with world-class infrastructure that leads the world into a sustainable and safer future.

Journey of Maccaferri in India and how Maccaferri is different from others.

India’s vast infrastructure needs are well known and are expanding all the time. The Indian infrastructure sector has significantly evolved over the last two and a half decades. Large infrastructure projects are mainly being driven and executed by the Government of India (GoI) with the objective to fuel the growth of the country and lay the grounds for a developed India. This presents enormous opportunities making India one of the world’s most attractive markets for companies in the infrastructure business.  It was challenging yet promising for us to create and sustain our presence here. We have completed over two decades in India and have positioned ourselves as one of the most trusted solution providers for complex civil, geotechnical, mining and environmental engineering projects.

We understand the dynamism of the Indian infrastructure industry and have customized our products and solutions to be unique while having a minimum impact on the environment and to be able to resolve complex technical issues.  Riding on the brand’s global reputation of in-depth technical know-how and globally consistent and continuous investment in Research & Development, in India too, the use of Maccaferri’s flexible structures with their eco friendliness, cost effectiveness and simplicity in construction attracted the attention of governing officials, practicing engineers, academicians and subject experts who supported the solutions and helped to build many landmark case studies since its inception. What also helped the impetus of the acceptance of these technologies in the country was the ongoing adaptation of new/revised standards and codal guidelines incorporating the use of these new engineering materials. Over the last two decades, we have worked on over 1200 projects in India with some of the leading private and public entities such National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Airport Authority of India, L&T, Sadbhav Engineering, AFCONS, KNR Construction Ltd, GR Infraprojects Ltd and many more.

How Maccaferri are making road travel in the hilly areas safer, what techniques/ solutions they are using?

Hilly terrains are challenging for construction due to steep cuttings, soil retention, drainage, landslides which may lead to many calamities and loss of life. We at Maccaferri in India, focus to develop solutions that ensure safer road travels and for that, our experts do thorough studies about the geology to understand the terrains and further develop products and tailored solutions. We provide a wide range of products and solutions including geosynthetics, rockfall and avalanche protection systems, gabions, specialized steel wire products and much more.  Some of our key applications includes:

  • Rockfall Protection & Snow Barriers
  • Retaining Walls & Soil Reinforcement
  • Slope stabilization
  • Drainage of Structures
  • Erosion Control
  • Soil Stabilization & Pavements
  • Safety & Noise Barriers

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