Reserves of traditional building materials dwindling

With rising construction cost and demand from various sectors for conventional building materials, a move is afoot to use waste material for laying roads. The 12 Five-Year Plan aims at giving a thrust to the initiative.

The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways favours utilisation of waste materials as reserves of traditional materials are declining, making extraction of quality inputs dearer.

The Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) has gained expertise in use of agricultural, municipal, construction and demolition wastes, metallurgical industry waste and by-products, quarry waste, pulverised fuel ash, diamond mine waste and paper industry waste.

During tests, roads constructed with these wastes were found to be at par with, if not better than, the ones traditionally laid with soil, stone aggregates, sand, bitumen and cement.

Though the Indian Road Congress has standardised most of the CRRI specifications, these have not been put to use by the road construction industry as yet.

To carry forward the initiative, the CRRI has been directed to prepare a database on availability of waste and marginal materials to optimise their use in construction of highways.

In a joint paper, CRRI senior principal scientist R.K. Swami and senior technical officer Uma Arun noted that while the effort would help in addressing waste disposal and conserving natural resources, the problem was availability of waste materials close to the construction project. The inhibiting factor was transportation. Large haulage would have its impact on environment and fuel costs and would outweigh the benefits of waste removal, they said. This explains the government effort at preparing a database on availability of waste and marginal materials to assess the cost of substituting these for natural materials and find means of making them economical.

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