The Indian infrastructure sector has witnessed the commissioning of some landmark projects during the course of the past 25 years. These projects showcase the sector’s growing engineering and technological strength as well as expertise in producing world-class, state-of-the-art assets. A look at the 25 most outstanding projects that were completed in the past two and a half decades…
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 required extensive tunnelling and construction of viaducts through valleys and bridges 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 scenic Konkan Railway sea route was started on January 26, 1998. Funds were raised without tapping into government resources, marking a first. The authorised capital was pooled together by the railways and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.
Nhava Sheva International Container
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-transfer basis in the port sector. Inaugurated in 1999, the terminal has state-of-the-art infrastructure and its productivity ranks amongst the highest in the world. The success of this PPP project influenced several other ports to privatise their 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. The project, however, was not bereft of controversies. In 2016, the Allahabad High Court scrapped tolling on the flyway, stating that the concessionaire had already recovered its reasonable dues.
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, has the benefits of a strategic location, advanced technology and operational efficiency.
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. The 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.
Completed in March 2002, the 95 km long Mumbai-Pune expressway is India’s first six-lane access-controlled expressway. In August 2004, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation and Mhaiskar Infrastructure 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.
Dahej LNG Terminal
Petronet LNG’s Dahej LNG terminal is the largest such terminal in India in terms of capacity. Commissioned in 2005, it had an initial capacity of 5 mtpa, which has now been expanded to 17.5 mtpa in phases. The terminal meets around 40 per cent of the country’s total gas demand. In 2022, the terminal achieved the milestone of handling the 3,000th LNG cargo. The capacity of the terminal is being expanded to 22.5 mtpa in two phases.
Bhiwandi Distribution Franchise Project
Maharashtra was the first state to take the bold step of introducing an input-based power distribution 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 decreasing by almost 40 per cent. The success of this PPP project influenced many states to implement the model.
Ahmedabad BRT System
The Ahmedabad bus rapid transit (BRT) system was one of the first BRT systems to be set up in the country. Approved in November 2006, the project was supported by the JNNURM. The first 12.5 km long corridor of the BRT system was operationalised in 2009. Currently, over 86 km of the network is operational.
Reliance East-West Pipeline
Commissioned in April 2009, the East-West pipeline was the largest natural gas pipeline in the country at the time, with a design capacity of 85 mmscmd. The 1,480 km pipeline was operated by East West Pipeline Limited (erstwhile Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Limited). It was later acquired by Brookfield through the infrastructure investment trust route.
Bandra-Worli Sea Link
Inaugurated in June 2009, the 4.7 km long 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 hydro project ever constructed 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 Rs 70 billion. Despite various construction odds, the project was commissioned two months ahead of schedule, a big achievement for a hydro project of such magnitude.
The 4,000 MW Sasan ultra mega power project (UMPP), owned by Reliance Power, is the world’s largest integrated coal mine and power project and is regarded as one of the most successful competitively bid PPP projects. The project has six modern 660 MW units. Despite its size and complexity, it was completed on schedule and today produces power at one of the cheapest rates.
National Power Grid Integration Project
The development of the national power grid was completed in December 2014 with the commissioning of the 765 kV Raichur-Solapur transmission line, which linked the North-East-West grid with the southern grid. This paved the way for seamless power flow across all regions, thereby achieving “One Nation-One Grid-One Frequency” in the country.
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. So far, 2,123 km of the 2,843 km DFC network is operational.
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. Built on 886 acres, it has a multi-service special economic zone and smart infrastructure.
BharatNet (the erstwhile National Optical Fibre Network programme) was launched in October 2011 to provide fibre cable-based high speed broadband connectivity to all 250,000 gram panchayats in India. The ambitious programme has been a game changer for rural areas. Recently, the project was extended to all 600,000 villages in the country.
Rewa Solar Park
In February 2017, the reverse auction for the 750 MW Rewa Solar Park resulted in the lowest solar tariff of Rs 2.97 per kWh seen in India till that time. The large 250 MW capacity of each solar power plant, favourable payment guarantee terms, deemed generation benefits, and a longer construction timeline contributed to the low winning bid, setting a benchmark for the industry. In April 2019, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation started procuring power from the park, which was a landmark deal for interstate open access procurement by a bulk consumer.
In 2020, the Border Roads Organisation completed the construction of the world’s longest highway tunnel, Atal Tunnel. An engineering marvel, the tunnel spans over 9.02 km at an altitude of above 10,000 feet and runs under the Rohtang Pass. It is a single-tube, double-lane and horseshoe-type tunnel implemented using various tunnel automation and digital technologies. Around 15,000 tonnes of steel was used for its construction.
Drink From Tap in Puri
In 2021, Puri in Odisha became the first city to inaugurate the Drink From Tap facility. Municipal taps in Puri now provide 24×7 quality potable water, like many other global cities including London, New York and Singapore. Through this project, the city now gets benefits of water access without requiring storage or filtration.
Redeveloped Gandhinagar and Rani Kamalapati Stations
Under the station redevelopment programme, Gandhinagar and Rani Kamalapati were the first stations to be redeveloped and modernised in 2021, followed by the Sir M. Visvesvaraya Terminal in 2022. These stations are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies for green buildings, energy/water conservation and waste management, and have an elevated concourse, roof plazas and multilevel car parking.
Chenab Railway Bridge
The Chenab railway bridge, a 1,315 metre long railway bridge in Jammu & Kashmir, is one of the highest railway bridges in the world. It is a part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project being undertaken by Indian Railways. The world’s highest single-arch railway bridge has many firsts to its credit, including the installation of a double corrosion protected bar and weld sample testing .The “golden joint” of the bridge was completed in August 2022 and the bridge is expected to open to rail traffic by early 2024.
Mopa International Airport
Mopa airport, the second international airport in Goa, was inaugurated in December 2022. It is designed as a zero carbon footprint airport, with facilities such as green buildings, LED lights on the airport runway, a sewage treatment plant and rainwater harvesting system. The ITRS system installed at Mopa is “made in India” by an MSME company and is also patented in India.
Delhi-Mumbai Expressway Phase I
In February 2023, the centre inaugurated the first phase of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway – the Delhi-Dausa-Lalsot section, spanning 246 km. The total length of the expressway is over 1,350 km, and it will pass through Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Being developed at a cost of Rs 1 trillion, it will serve 93 PM Gati Shakti economic nodes, 13 ports, 8 major airports and 8 multimodal logistics parks upon completion.