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Tunneling in India An Experts viewpoint

Date of Post: 18/11/2015

Category: Bridges & Tunnels   Type: Whitepapers

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Indian tunnelling is alive and well and thriving both at home and abroad.

India has a long history of hard rock tunnelling using the drill and fire method but its history with soft ground excavation and with mechanised tunnelling methods is somewhat shorter but, as with all things new, the new tunnelling technologies have been accepted and embraced wholeheartedly by Indian management and worker alike.

The Indian workforce is both plentiful and economically viable making it very attractive to both homegrown and international construction companies. There is also no shortage of young, highly educated and tech-savvy Indians who are not content to sit at a desk, do not baulk at getting their hands dirty and have grasped the opportunities available both at home and abroad in the tunnelling industry.

Like much of Indian industry the tunnelling industry is booming with extensions to both the Delhi and Mumbai metro systems underway as well as the construction of complete new systems in many of the major connurbations. This is good news for the Indian tunnelling industry and for Indian tunnellers. Tunnels are being driven now in difficult mixed ground conditions permitting Indian management and workforce to gain that most valuable of commodities: experience.

This experience borne out of facing and overcoming challenging ground conditions is what will make Indian construction companies and Indian tunnellers one of the major players in the world market in the next decade. Up to the present date it has been neccessary to bring in ex-pats with long term soft ground and mechanised tunnelling experience to advise and train TBM (tunnel boring machine) operators, PLC electricians and mechanics on how to utilise and optimise the machinery.

India now has a home grown tunnel workforce which is savvy with the machinery but lacking long term experience - by 2020 when all the present metro construction contracts are complete this lack of long term experience will no longer be the case.

Indian technical personnel are heavily involved in the Qatar and Riyaddh metro projects hence gaining more valuable experience and taking another step forward in making India a major tunnelling world player.

The only things that will hinder progress are the same obstacles which get in the way in most other fields - lack of education and an overburdening beauracracy. India needs a dedicated school of tunnelling to cover all the disciplines involved.

The future of tunnelling in India looks very bright.

We are highly thankful to Mr Geoffrey Paul DARBISHIRE( from Spain) for contributing this valuable article.  



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