Government of India has declared the current decade as the decade of innovation for inclusive growth and the U.N. has declared this decade as the “Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020”. The focus is now being shifted on the people and services for inclusive growth and the road safety. Globally, road crashes result in fatalities of 1.3 million a year and India alone accounts for 11 per cent of the global road crashes.  In the year 2013, we had about half a million road accidents resulting in 137,572 fatalities and 4,90,000 serious injuries. This means one fatality on our roads every four minutes. The total socio-economic loss due to road accidents is estimated at 4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India(SCI) taking into cognizance the road traffic scenario in the matter of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has constituted a three member Committee under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Justice Shri K. S. Radhakrishnan, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India to monitor the progress in the matter and directed the Govt. to expedite the necessary amendments by legislature in its collective wisdom.

World Road Association (PIARC) in consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, in collaboration with the World Bank are organising series of conferences targeting Road Safety” around the globe. The first International conference in this series was held at Warsaw (Poland) in October, 2013.  In order to take into cognizance the best practices in the World and to pool collective wisdom, the IRC organised an International Conference on “Road Safety Scenario in India and Way Forward” with the support of Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways,  World Road Association, JICA, IRF, The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank on 29th and 30th November, 2014 to share experiences & knowledge amongst the learned speakers & participants and exchange of views on measures required to built road safety capacity in order to reduce the road accidents and ultimately aim towards zero road crash fatalities vision

IRC in her endeavors has developed a user friendly Scientific Form for Collection of “Road Accidents Recording forms A-1 and A-4 (IRC:53-2012).” To impart real time information to the traveller, IRC has formulated “Guidelines for Variable Message Signs (IRC:SP:85-2010)”.  Besides, “Manual on Road Safety Audit (IRC:SP88-2010)” has been published for assessing accident potential and safety performance.

IRC’s initiatives to introduce cleaner, less polluting construction, use recycled wastes and minimize drawing of natural resources from the environment get reflected in several of its recently published codes, guidelines and standards, which are briefly discussed below.

4.1    The Principles, policies and technology choice

In order to facilitate better understanding of statutory requirements relating to environment by highway professionals in order to help them deliver projects with minimal adverse impact on environment, IRC has come out with a Special Publication IRC:SP:108-2015 “Guidelines on Preparation and Implementation of Environment Management Plan (EMP)”. The Guidelines comprehensively discuss all the environmental issues, the statutory requirements to be followed, considerations guiding choice of materials and technologies, the measures to be taken in planning, construction and post construction phases of a project and encourages the profession to aim at earning Carbon credit.

4.2    Substitution of crushed rock by stabilized low grade aggregates and soil

The environment friendly new technology of stabilized low grade aggregates and soils in substitution of the crushed rock has been institutionalized in updated “IRC:37-2012: Tentative Guidelines for the Design of Flexible Pavements”. Besides, IRC:37-2012 provides for the modified design procedures based on the mechanistic empirical design which relies on the stresses and strains developed in various pavement layers and the strength of these layers in terms of elastic moduli and durability instead of the old design concept of strength of the pavement layers generated by inter-granular friction, which made the use of crushed rocks mandatory.

In order to make construction of embankment more performance based by using geosyntheticsas innovative technique/material, IRC formulated code “IRC:113-2013: Guidelines for Design in Construction of Geosynthetics Reinforced Embankments on Soft Sub Soils”. Further, “IRC:75-2015 Guidelines for the Design of High Embankments” has recently been revised to cover wide spectrum of issues like seismic conditions; liquefaction analysis/control measures; variety of ground improvements using advanced materials like Geotextiles (minimizes rock slides); Instrumentation and Monitoring. Realizing the flash flood havoc of June 2013 in Uttarakhand, IRC has endeavored on formulation of “IRC:SP:106-2015: Engineering Guidelines on Landslide Mitigation Measures for Indian Roads”.

4.3 Economy in cement and steel consumption by producing high strength     concrete and modified design procedures for concrete road bridges

IRC with the twin aim of designing high strength structural concrete and economy in use of cement and steel formulated two vital codes, the one is “IRC:SP:70-2005: Guidelines for the Use of High Performance Concrete (HPC) in Bridges”. In this technology silica fume, a foamingagent as viscosity modifier is added @10% by weight in replacement of cement, in concrete mix, as a result, strength of concrete increases nearly 70%. This is fast construction technology besides economical as less consumption of stone aggregates and cement hence saving in time and energy. The second one is “IRC:SP:71-2006 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Pre-tensioned  Girder of Bridges”. The fast construction technique is widely adopted for construction of metro track, expressways, etc. being safer (light structure); economical (less use of stone aggregates) and environment friendly (less polluted). 

Taking clue from the practice in Japan for Self Consolidated Concrete (SCC) whereas mechanical consolidation is eliminated, the state-of-art technology in precast segmental structures, IRC has formulated “IRC:SP:62-2014: Guidelines for Design and Construction of Cement Concrete Pavements for Low Volume Roads”. However,for road carrying very high volume of commercial traffic, “IRC:118-2015: Guidelines for Design and Construction of Continuously Reinforced Concrete Pavement (CRCP)”, having low life-cycle cost has been published.

IRC has strived upon another environment friendly new cost-effective technology for construction of concrete road bridges. The new “IRC:112-2011: Code of Practice for Concrete Road Bridges” is based on the ‘limit state design’ concept as opposed to the ‘working stress design’ principles in the earlier version. The code permits design and production of very high strength concrete approaching almost 100 MPa, nearly twice as much as that permitted under the previous versions. The code also provides for use of blast furnace slag upto 50% by weight in replacement of cement in construction of concrete piles in coastal regions. This brings economy in consumption of cement and steel, two of the most polluting manufactured construction materialsresultingreduction in carbon dioxide emission and consumption of energy

4.4            Use of fly ash in construction

Taking advantage of IRC initiatives in formulation of Guidelines for promoting the use of fly ash in road embankments (IRC:SP:58-2001), MoEF issued an amendment to their fly ash notification which read as:

“No agency or person or organization shall within a radius of hundred kilometers of thermal power plant undertake construction or approve design for construction of roads or flyover embankment with top soil, the guidelines or specifications issued by the Indian Roads Congress (IRC) as contained in IRC specification No. SP:58 of 2001 shall be followed”.

Further, IRC has formulated numerous guidelines for promoting use of fly ash in different structural parts of road and bridge construction, some noteworthy Codes  namely are:

  • IRC:SP:63-2004 “Guidelines for the Use of Interlocking Concrete Block Pavement”
  • IRC:44-2008 “Guidelines for Cement Concrete Mix Design for Pavement”
  • IRC:SP:89-2010 “Guidelines for Soil and Granular Material Stabilization using Cement, Lime & Fly Ash”
  • IRC:36-2010 “Recommended Practice for Construction of Earth Embankments and Subgrade for Road Works”
  • IRC:15-2011 “Specifications and Code of Practice for Construction of Concrete Roads”
  • IRC:112-2011 “Code of Practice for Concrete Road Bridges”
  • IRC:37-2012 “Tentative Guidelines for the Design of Flexible Pavements”
  • IRC:SP:102-2014 “Guidelines for Design and Construction of Reinforced Soil Walls”

4.5    Use of warm mix asphalt technology

Most bituminous mixes are produced at a very high temperature (nearly 160ºC), mainly because bitumen is very viscous at low temperatures and cannot coat the aggregates unless heated to high temperatures. There are technologies available, which can facilitate the coating at low temperatures by increasing the surface area of bitumen (foaming) or by reducing the surface tension at the aggregate bitumen interface with use of certain additives, thereby making the mixing possible at much lower temperature (typically 110ºC), saving energy and releasing less pollutants in the atmosphere reducing GHG emission and hence earning carbon credit.

In order to encourage the use of Green Technology in road construction using variety of patented products as additives which come in different forms such as solid, liquid and powder and use different processes for administering the additives and mixing. IRC has institutionalized the new environment friendly technology in new code namely “IRC:SP-101-2014: Interim Guidelines for Warm Mix Asphalt”.

Further, as an endeavor towards cost effective environment-friendly maintenance of bituminous pavements during adverse climate, IRC formulated “IRC:116-2014: Specifications for Readymade Bituminous Pothole Patching Mix Using Cut-Back Bitumen”, a mix capable of being stocked for at least six months without stripping. Besides, “IRC:SP:100-2014: Use of Cold Mix Technology in Construction and Maintenance of Roads Using Bitumen Emulsion” .

4.6    Use of waste plastic in bituminous construction

With the aim of safe disposal of waste plastic, a worst environment polluting agent being non bio-degradable wastes, IRC has already given breakthrough by institutionalizing the legitimate use of waste plastic in bituminous mixes in an environment friendly technology formulated in new code named as “IRC:SP-98-2013: Guidelines for the use of Waste Plastic. 

Keeping in view the non-bio-degradability character and toxic nature of the waste plastic, the non-renewable substance, the provision for its use in road construction is recommended to the made “mandatory” due to indispensable advantages namely  saving of 6-8 % in bitumen, non-renewable source by replacement of waste plastic and in turn would save foreign exchange besides improve environment amply.

4.7    Recycling of bituminous pavement

The failed and damaged bituminous pavements have valuable aggregates and bitumen in them. It is desirable to extract value out of the waste bituminous pavements by reclaiming and recycling these materials and using them in construction instead of dumping it in landfills, which will use up scarce land resources and contaminate the soil. Use of such materials in a construction layer has been permitted in the revised Pavement Design Guidelines (IRC:37-2012). Under the another new environment friendly technology, essentially involve reclaiming the damaged or unserviceable pavement materials by milling, mixing fresh materials with reclaimed materials, and producing mixes (either in-situ or in plant), detailed Guidelines has recently been formulated in the new code named as “IRC:120-2015: Recommended Practice for Recycling of Bituminous Pavements” .

4.8   Gap-graded bituminous mixes using crumb rubber

The technology involves converting the used and discarded rubber tyres of vehicles into crumbs and mixing them with aggregate and bitumen to produce a strong and durable mix. The grading (or packing of various sizes of aggregates) is not close but leaves gaps to accommodate the crumbs in the mix, which after absorbing oil in the bitumen expand and make the mix dense, durable and more flexible. With the twin aims of which are to improve the pavement design as well as utilize the rubber waste in construction rather than disposing it into landfills and use land resources for disposal of waste or by disposing it by the crude method of burning, which is highly polluting, taking clue from the practices in Japan, IRC has developed standards and formulated the guidelines under the code named as “IRC:SP:107-2015: Guidelines for Gap Graded Wearing  Course with Rubberised  Bitumen-Rubber”. Use of these wastes in bituminous construction is extremely environment friendly and makes economic sense as well (because of higher performance, durability and less maintenance needs).

5.     Conclusion

IRC is committed to continue its endeavors in promoting environmental-friendly technologies and materials in road construction. It would recommend the Government to lend support to its enterprises through her apt policy initiatives that mandate to use of these standards and monitoring their performance. It would also recommend that a system of incentives and disincentives be devised for mandatory use of such green technologies. Lastly, it would candidly recommend that the project cost, unless it includes indispensable social cost and cost of environmental safeguards, it construed to be misleading and gives a false sense of economy and hence declared to be unviable. 


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