A recent study by McKinsey Global Institute says that India, will require building 2.5 billion square metres of paved road to match the huge influx of migrating population in the urban pockets by the year 2030. However the pace of highway construction is at an average of 18.23 km per day, a way lower than what is required. Ben James, CEO of Global Road Technology, an Australia based company, talks about how new equipment and advance technology can increase the speed of road making in India by almost three times, and can save substantial cost of construction .
Tell us about the technology you are using to make roads? How is it different than the available road building technologies in India?
Our company is specialised in polymer soil stabilisation for new generation road construction. We use advanced Concrete Treated Base (CTB), Cold-In-Place-Recycling (CIPR) and Foamed Bitumen technology. We use the existing soil base and suppress it over a very high pressure and heat with cement mixed binding agent. It instantly makes the base solid and firm. GRT’s liquid polymer dust suppression technology mops out dust particles around the road. There is no need to put additional water to settle the dust so it saves both energy, water and is able to create instant highway infrastructure.
Our USP is our speed, which is an established fact. Even if we take conservative estimate, our hot and cold technology can construct roads at least three times faster than the conventional method.
Another advantage is that this technology saves 10 per cent of the total project cost, which is substantial for a big ticket highway project. This technology thus is able to save time, money, natural resources like water and also the environment by not releasing dust particles.
And biggest factor is the quality of roads. We use very sophisticated machines with 20 tonne rollers and using cement mix while compacting, which binds the road layer and make it stronger, which doesn’t require any maintenance. What is important, there is no scope of cuttings corners in this technology, which ensures the quality. The technology is already very popular in Australia, Middle east and other places.
What are the projects the company is engaged with? What kind of responses you have got so far?
At present we are working on 17-18 projects, which includes 3 NHAI project in Bihar, UP and Kerela. We are working on NH-2, from Varanasi to Aurangabad. We are just about to start two more national highway projects by the end of this month – one in Kerala and the other in Bihar. We are also looking at working with Rajasthan government. We also got a contract in Orissa for making a road in the mining area, which require dust suppression technology. We already got approval from CMPDI and we will start the pilot project by next month. GRT is in talks with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) which has approved this technology. We would want to do a turnover of somewhat Rs 1,500 crore in next three years. Most of your projects are sub-contracts. Any specific reason for doing so?
At this point we are not looking at taking direct project and are only taking sub-contracted projects and no direct ones. Dealing with government takes lot of time and right now we are happy with this model as it is working perfectly with us. One our technology is accepted and approved by the government, we can look at taking the direct project but at present at least for the next 2-3 years, we will work as per our unique business policy and will concentrate on the sub contracts. We will focus on delivering the projects that we have undertaken. We are in talks with Larson and Tubro and many other big infra companies for getting some of the work. Road development is a key part of most of the Smart Cities Mission? Are you looking at any of the cities for road projects?
Yes. Smart Cities are one area where we are looking at go for direct bidding. We have technology for building all kind of roads and are interested in both greenfield and repair work.
We have already done one project for Mumbai Municipal body which includes a repair work at Bandra, the Lilavati Hospital road. With our machines, we can do the repair work in 20 minutes, which requires 3-4 hours.
Another advantage is that all our machines are noiseless, so it is a silent work, without any hassling sound or, dust particles troubling the citizens. We have already written to many state government and have contacted many smart cities. We expect it to materialize it by the next month.