20 Landmark Projects: Marking milestones

Marking milestones

In the past two decades, the infrastructure sector has witnessed the commissioning of landmark projects, some of which are no less than engineering marvels, beating all construction odds, setting new technology benchmarks and making a tangible difference. While there are, no doubt, a number of projects that deserve a spot here, we present a list of 20 outstanding projects that were completed in the past two decades, based on a survey of industry experts…

Konkan Railway

The construction of Konkan Railway connected the south-western coast with the rest of the country. It is undoubtedly one of the most difficult infrastructure projects to have been undertaken and successfully completed since Independence. The rocky Sahyadri range had to be bored through, viaducts had to be built through valleys and bridges built over several rivers. Hydraulic tunnel digging equipment was imported from Sweden to dig many of these tunnels. After eight years of labour, the first passenger train along the picturesque Konkan Railway sea route was flagged off on January 26, 1998. Funds for the project were raised without touching the government coffers, a first in the country’s history. The authorised capital was pooled together by the railway and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra. This was done by leveraging public bonds (to the extent of Rs 22.5 billion).

Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal at JNPT

DP World’s Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust was the first project to be developed on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis in the ports and shipping sector. Inaugurated in 1999, the terminal has a cargo handling capacity of 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units. It has state-of-the-art infrastructure and its productivity is rated amongst the highest in the world. The success of this public-private partnership (PPP) project influenced a number of other ports to privatise container handling facilities.

Delhi Noida Direct Flyway

Commissioned in February 2001, the Delhi-Noida flyover is one of the largest toll bridge projects to be implemented on a PPP basis in India. It is the only listed toll road in the country – listed on both the domestic stock exchanges as well as the AIM exchange, London. Noida Toll Bridge Company Limited became the first company to launch an initial public offering (IPO) for a greenfield infrastructure project and also the first company to launch an IPO with a take-out financing arrangement. The project, however, was not bereft of controversies. In 2016, the Allahabad High Court scrapped tolling on the flyway, saying that the concessionaire had already recovered its reasonable dues.

Mundra Port

Inaugurated in October 2001, Mundra port is the first and only non-major port to handle over 100 million tonnes (mt) of cargo in a year (2013-14). The 229.14 mt capacity port, owned and operated by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited, represents a judicious mix of location, technology and efficiency. The port has a maximum average output of 25,262 per ship berth day (among private ports). It also houses four container terminals with a combined capacity of 87.54 mt (the second highest in India), and dedicated berths for handling coal, containers and crude oil.

Delhi metro rail system

The operationalisation of the Delhi metro rail system in 2002 marked a new era in the country’s urban transport segment. Timely execution and operationalisation of the Delhi Metro has been a trendsetter. The success of this project has influenced a number of other cities to set up metro systems. The current operational network stands at over 296 km with a daily average ridership of over 2.5 million. About 2,200 coaches ply on the operational corridors of the Delhi Metro. The system has deployed several advanced technology and IT solutions such as automatic fare collection, communication-based train control, regenerative braking system, etc.

Mumbai-Pune expressway

Completed in March 2002, the 95 km Mumbai-Pune expressway is India’s first six-lane, access-controlled expressway. In August 2004, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and Mhaiskar Infrastructure had signed a 15-year concession agreement to develop, operate and maintain the expressway. This was one of the earliest PPP projects in the road sector. The MSRDC’s experience with the reverse BOT model under this project is also noteworthy.

Dahej LNG terminal

Petronet LNG’s Dahej LNG terminal is the largest LNG terminal in India in terms of capacity. Commissioned in 2005, it had an initial capacity of 5 mtpa (Phase I). The capacity was expanded to 10 mtpa in 2009 as part of the Phase II expansion. The terminal meets around 20 per cent of the country’s total gas demand. The Phase III expansion is expected to augment the terminal’s capacity to 20 mtpa by 2020.

Bhiwandi Distribution Franchise Project

Maharashtra was the first state to take the bold step of introducing an input-based franchise arrangement in Bhiwandi. It awarded the franchise to Torrent Power in 2007 and the results of this initiative have been extremely encouraging with aggregate technical and commercial losses coming down by almost 40 per cent. The success of this PPP project influenced many states in pursuing the idea of implementing the model.

Ahmedabad Bus Rapid Transit System

The Ahmedabad bus rapid transit (BRT) system was one of the first for which a project-specific special purpose vehicle (SPV), Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited, was set up and funds mobilised under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The project was approved in November 2006. The first 12.5 km corridor of the BRT system was operationalised in 2009. The current operational network is 89 km. About 223 buses with smart features such as intelligent transportation management systems ply on various routes.

Reliance East-West Pipeline

Operated by East West Pipeline Limited (erstwhile Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Limited), the East-West pipeline is the largest natural gas pipeline in the country with a design capacity of 80 mmscmd. The 1,480 km pipeline was commissioned in April 2009. It transports gas from the Krishna Godavari (KG)-D6 field from Kakinada to Bharuch, passing through Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The capacity utilisation of the East-West pipeline declined significantly, from 65 per cent in 2013-14 to 21 per cent in 2017-18. This could be attributed to the decline in production from the KG-D6 field.

Bandra-Worli Sea Link

Inaugurated in June 2009, the 4.7 km Bandra-Worli Sea Link is an engineering marvel and India’s longest open sea cable-stayed bridge. It has a 16-lane toll plaza and a state-of-the-art system for monitoring, surveillance, information guidance and emergency support.

Delhi international airport

The year 2010 saw the commissioning of Terminal 3 of Delhi airport, the largest airport terminal in the country and across South Asia. It was completed and commissioned in a record period of 37 months to welcome the world to the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi.

Karcham Wangtoo Hydro Project

The Karcham Wangtoo hydro project in Himachal Pradesh is the largest hydroelectric project ever to be built by a private company. The 1,000 MW project was built in 2011 by Jaiprakash Power Ventures Limited (later acquired by JSW Energy) at an investment of about Rs 70 billion. Despite battling various construction odds, the project was commissioned two months ahead of schedule, a significant feat for a hydro project of such magnitude.

Charanka Solar Park

The Charanka Solar Park was inaugurated in 2012. It was home to about 250 MW of solar power capacity at the time, which has gone up by nearly 2.5 times since. The generation capacity is expected to increase soon from the current 600 MW to 790 MW.

Sasan UMPP

The 4,000 MW Sasan ultra mega power project (UMPP) owned by Reliance Power, the world’s largest integrated coal mine and power project, is considered one of the most successful competitively bid PPP projects. The project has two modern 660 MW units. Despite its size and complexity, it was completed on schedule and today produces power at one of the cheapest rates. The project clocked an impressive plant load factor of over 91 per cent last fiscal. Its associated coal mines are a benchmark in the industry, clocking the highest production across private players.

Nagpur 24×7 water supply project

This ambitious project was launched in 2012 under the JNNURM to provide round-the-clock pressurised water supply to Nagpur city. The project is the most successful PPP in the water sector. A record decline in non-revenue water, a turnaround in operations, use of advanced technology, and improvement in operational and collection efficiency are some of its key successes. The project is being operated and maintained by Orange City Water Private Limited, a joint venture of Vishvaraj Environment and Veolia Water India Private Limited.

National power grid integration project

Over the years, the development of the national power grid has been brought about with the commissioning of the five regional transmission connectivity projects at several points in time. The last of these came up in December 2014 with the commissioning of the 765 kV Raichur-Sholapur transmission line, which linked the North-East-West grid with the southern grid. The project has helped pave the way for seamless power flow across all regions.

Dedicated Freight Corridor

The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) is one of the largest ongoing rail infrastructure projects in the country, aimed at building dedicated freight-only railway lines along highly congested transport corridors. Once commissioned, the eastern and the western DFCs will bring about a paradigm shift in Indian Railways’ freight operations. Conceptualised in 2005, the DFC entails the development of six high-capacity freight corridors.

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City

The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) has been declared India’s first operational smart city and international financial services centre. So far, it has received investments of over Rs 110 billion with an allotment of nearly 16 million sq. ft of built-up area. With around 200 operational companies, GIFT offers huge employment opportunities.


BharatNet (the erstwhile National Optic Fibre Network programme) was approved by the government in October 2011. With the aim of rolling out broadband infrastructure across 250,000 gram panchayats, the mega project aspired to change the face of broadband connectivity in rural areas. After repeatedly missing deadlines, it picked up pace in 2015-16. A major revamp in the implementation strategy by involving state agencies and the private sector has borne positive results. Phase I, which connected 100,000 gram panchayats, was completed in December 2017.

(The above listing is in chronological order.)