Indian public sector enterprise, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Enginers Limited (GRSE), is silently charting a story of Atmanirbharta (self-reliance) in modular steel bridge manufacturing. Besides catering to the growing demand from the difficult terrains within India, it is now increasingly tapping the exports of our neighbouring countries.
This comes in contrast to the 2020 global trade data compiled by Observatory of Economic Complexity which put India among the top 10 importers of bridges and bridge sections of iron/steel valued at $39.3 million. The other top importers are Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, Bangladesh and Philippines.
PR Hari, Chairman and Managing Director, GRSE, informed that the growing indigenisation in modular /portable steel bridges is giving Indian players a competitive edge in export markets. Quick-to-erect designs (could be launched within 45 days), heavy axle loading with longer span and higher load capacity, durability and maintenance, besides the overall cost economics of the project is making a case for the Indian bridges. For example, during 2021-22, the Kolkata-based GRSE exported 14 portable steel bridges worth ₹7 crore to Bhutan (10) and Nepal (4). This is double than the seven bridges worth ₹3.15 crore it exported a year ago.
At the recently-concluded DefExpo 2022 in Gandhinagar, GRSE launched the Bailey type bridges in the single and double lane categories having carriageway width of 5.30 meters and 7.5 meters (maximum) respectively. This allows the two-way hassle-free traffic with heavy axle loading. A similar 140-feet long modular steel bridge was erected, tested and is in use at Flage hill, Doklam under the BRO project Swastik in Sikkim. Also, it displayed a light weight modular assault bridge for pedestrian traffic.
Hari stated that the business mostly comes from the North-East and disaster-hit inaccessible areas in India, while it also supplies to friendly bordering countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. “We have already delivered a total of 5,500 bridges so far. Our customer base includes the Indian Army, Border Roads Organisation, and some State governments,” he added.