National Conference on Resilient Infrastructure [NCRI] is conducted annually by Kerala Highway Research Institute, in association with the Indian Institute of Technology Palakkad who provides the technical support. It was in the context of the 2018 flood in Kerala that the then Hon. Minister Sri. G. Sudhakaran, put forward the idea of launching a national technical conference for resilient and sustainable infrastructure. KHRI then took charge of organising the National Conference on Resilient Infrastructure to strengthen the technical and operational capacity of implementing institutions and agencies of the state. NCRI also serves as a platform to bring together the experts and other budding civil engineers with revolutionary ideas. Furthermore, to ensure the resilience and durability of public infrastructure, NCRI could act as a medium to introduce them to innovative and modern technologies in addition to modifications to current designs and practices.
KHRI in association with the Indian Institute of Technology Palakkad organised the first edition of the conference, NCRI 2020, on 17 and 18 Dec 2020, with a vision to bring forward the latest research activities in resilient infrastructure development to meet the real need of the hour.
Shri. G. Sudhakaran, the then Hon. Minister for Public Works inaugurated the conference. Various eminent personalities like Shri. Anand Singh IAS (Secretary, PWD), Dr Tom V. Mathew (Professor, IIT Palakkad), Prof. P. B. Sunilkumar (Director, IIT P), Shri. Thomas John (Joint Director, KHRI) and Chief Engineers of PWD – Smt. Madhumathi K. R. and Smt. Beena L further graced the occasion. The other attendees included all the Chief Engineers and Superintending Engineers of PWD, Faculties and Students from IIT Palakkad and other premier institutes in India, engineers and technical staff of PWD, and the registered participants and general public. We conducted all the proceedings online, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
THEMES AND TRACKS OF NCRI 2020
The conference used the theme ‘Environment-friendly, climate-resilient designs and construction practices for natural disaster-prone areas’ in various realms of Civil Engineering. It invited research papers from leading institutes in the four tracks – Infrastructure Planning, Pavement Systems, Geotechnical Engineering and Transportation Systems as given below.
Chief Engineer Smt. Madhumathi K. R. presenting a memento to the then Hon. Minister for Public Works, Shri. G. Sudhakaran during the inaugural function of NCRI 2020
Releasing the first copy of the NCRI proceedings by the then Hon. Minister for Public Works, Shri. G. Sudhakaran during the inaugural function of NCRI 2020. Presenting the first copy to Smt. Beena L, Chief Engineer.
On the day of the conference, eminent subject experts like faculties from premier academic institutions and research centres, industrialists and technologists delivered several keynote addresses to establish the underlying themes on the following topics:
“Ground Improvement by Preloading Technique” – by Prof. R.G. Robinson, Professor, IIT Madras
“Road Safety Audit in India – Needs and Challenges” – by Dr S. Velmurugan, Chief Scientist, CSIR-CRRI, New Delhi
“Flexibilities in Infrastructure Megaprojects” – by Prof. Ashwin Mahalingam, Professor, IIT Madras
“Design and Construction of Flood Resilient Pavements” – by Prof. Rajib B. Mallick, Professor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, USA
The event saw large-scale participation from researchers and students alike even amidst the prevailing covid-19 pandemic. A total of 52 papers were selected for presentation among the numerous papers received for scrutiny. The paper presentations were conducted in four schedules and thoroughly evaluated by the technical team from IIT Palakkad.
Public Works Department under the government of Kerala traces back its history to the formation of the Maramath Department in the State of Travancore in the year 1823. PWD is vested with designing, planning, construction and maintenance of public infrastructure such as roads, bridges and government buildings. It is also entrusted with the implementation of road safety works. The department is under the Hon’ble Minister for public works and is headed by the Secretary to government at the Secretariat. The department has various wings namely Roads, Bridges, Buildings, National Highways, Design, Projects, Road maintenance and Administration headed by Chief Engineers. Superintending Engineers are in charge of the three circle offices in the state. Under them are Divisions headed by Executive Engineers at the district level, Sub Divisions headed by Assistant Executive Engineers at the taluk level and Sections under Assistant Engineers at the lowest level. Organizations like Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP), Kerala State Construction Corporation Ltd (KSCC), Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB), Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd (RBDCK) and Road Infrastructure Company Kerala Ltd (RICK) also functions under Public Works Department.
Kerala Highway Research Institute (KHRI), the only research institute under Kerala Public Works Department, was established in 1972 as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways (MSRTH). The three major spheres of activity of KHRI are Research, Training and Material Testing. The institute is involved in various research studies focussing modern technologies and pilot projects catering the needs of the government to attain the sustainability development goals related to public infrastructure. It imparts technical training programmes involving nationally and internationally eminent faculties to improve the quality of PWD works. KHRI facilitates material testing in its three well equipped labs, to serve the preconstruction and post construction requirements of PWD as well as other government and non government bodies.
KHRI functions under the Chief Engineer, PWD Designs with necessary guidance and supervision of Director (Research & PPU) and is headed by the Joint Director. The activities of KHRI are executed through its four divisions namely, Concrete & Structures Division, Flexible Pavement Division, Soil Mechanics & Foundation Division and Traffic Engineering Division.
IIT Palakkad one of the 23 prestigious IITs of national importance imparting higher education in engineering, science and technology started functioning in 2015-16, with the support of its mentor Institute, IIT Madras. The academic program was launched by admitting students to the B. Tech. course in the disciplines of Civil Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. The Institute is located at two campuses, namely, the Ahalia integrated campus (Temporary Campus) and the Nila Campus at Kanjokkode. Within a short span of two years, the Institute could start Masters and Doctoral programs in Engineering, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. The Institute has commenced M.Sc courses in Physics and Chemistry, and M.Tech in Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, in the current academic year.