Opportunities Abound: Construction sector witnesses burgeoning demand

The central government has set ambitious goals in a bid to cater to the transformation and development of the infrastructure sector. At present, the construction sector is witnessing burgeoning demand given the launch of the ambitious National Infrastructure Pipeline and the government’s aim to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2025. This road­map is estimated to help unlock numerous op­p­ortunities for construction contractors, developers, equipment providers and financiers. The increased focus on building domestic manufacturing capacity under the Make in India initiative bodes well for all sectors.

Indian Infrastructure takes a look at up­coming opportunities across sectors…

The road sector offers huge opportunities under the Bharatmala Pariyojna  as it envisages to construct 34,800 km of national highways under Phase I by 2027-28. There has been a shift from conventional construction me­tho­ds to high-strength materials such as high performance concrete and fibre-reinforced bars. Also, bridge projects have been undertaken utilising high performance concrete, resulting in the construction of large-span bridges. In addition to the increasing preference for advanced construction methods, there is a growing de­mand for underpasses, which has prompted an increase in the construction of embankments. Further, the National Highways Authority of India is striving for bigger targets, which necessitates the use of sustainable materials and prior cost optimisation in order to acquire technology that can expedite construction. Focus on the development of a large number of greenfield expressways and economic corridors also provides a promising business landscape for the sector in the short and long terms. Planned greenfield expressways include Delhi-Mumbai, Ahmedabad-Dholera and Bengaluru-Chennai.

The ports and shipping sector is expected to contribute significantly towards the growth of the economy. The government’s Sagarmala Prog­ram­me is playing a key role in the development of crucial infrastructure. With the identification of rail and road connectivity projects, modernisation of terminal equipment, berth and yard im­provements as well as creation of economic zo­nes adjacent to ports, the Sagarmala Prog­ra­mme will help in focused development of the sector. Meanwhile, the Maritime India Vision 2030 envisions an overall investment of Rs 3,000 billion-Rs 3,500 billion across the ports, shipping and inland waterways segments.

The Indian aviation sector will also provide huge construction opportunities with the government’s ambitious goal of developing 220 new airports by 2025. Development plans are under way for small, underserved and remote airports as the subsidised regional connectivity scheme expands. Existing airports such as those in Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad are be­ing ex­pan­ded to increase passenger handling capacity amidst rising demand for air travel. Besides, runway extension works are being carried out at Delhi, Bengaluru and Darbhanga airports, among others. Airport expansion and greenfield construction will also support the development of ancillary infrastructure such as maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, cargo complexes and city-side development.

Indian Railways intends to lay 2,500 route km of tracks (new line, doubling, gauge conversion) in financial year 2023. The upcoming dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) and high speed rail corridors spell substantial opportunities for contractors. Three new DFCs have been planned – East Coast Corridor, East-West Corridor and North-South Sub-Corridor. The government’s ambitious station redevelopment programme, under which around 400 stations are planned to be modernised, holds promise for the construction industry.

The urban transport sector will continue to evolve, with an emphasis on adopting cost-eff­ec­tive mass transit solutions such as Metro­Lite and MetroNeo in smaller cities or as feeders to the main metro systems in large cities. Over 1,000 km of metro network is coming up acro­ss 31 cities. The Make in India initiative has also increased the level of indigenisation in metro projects. This has led many companies to manufacture metro coaches in India. Further, domestic capacity is being developed for the construction of civil structures. Most of the metro rail construction work is now occurring off-site, using extensive mechanisation and digital tools for monitoring and control. The precast methodology is in­creasingly being adopted across metro systems to expedite work. The New Austrian Tun­nelling Method and tunnel boring machines will continue to gain prominence in the metro sector, particularly in urban areas where there are space constraints.

The way ahead

The construction industry is shifting its focus towards digitalisation to automate processes. The industry is expected to adopt advanced solutions such as cloud-based collaboration, digital twins, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning, and building information modelling. Going forward, technology and sustainability will play a significant role in the construction sector.