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Global Geosynthetics Summit

News | February 1, 2015 | By:

As some of you know, the Geosynthetic Institute (GSI) and the Bombay Textile Research Association (BTRA) have had an association for more than five years. In September 2014, we advanced this relationship during the Global Geosynthetic Summit “Enhancing the Application of Geosynthetics in the Infrastructure Sector.”

The summit was held Sept. 5–6 at the Eastin Hotel in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Sponsors for the event included: the Confederation of Indian Industry, Office of the Textile Commissioner, and the government of Gujarat. The summit theme was on Geosynthetics in Infrastructure Applications, with main topics including roadways, shore and bank protection, landslide and rockfall applications, railways, landfills, canals, reservoirs, and mining applications.

Introductory session

The welcome address and summit objectives were given by Dr. Chandan Chatterjee, advisor for the Project and Technology Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb), government of Gujarat. This introduction was followed by my presentation on Global Market Scenario of Geosynthetics.

Among the elements presented:

  • The worldwide demand for geosynthetics is projected to increase about 9% annually to 6 billion m2 in 2014. North America accounts for 31% of global market sales and the Asia/Pacific region accounts for 21%. To contrast these worldwide numbers, Table 1 reveals the geosynthetic market in India.
  • The total production of geosynthetics in India is in the range of 1,053 million m2 with imports about 100 million m2. The total consumption, however, is about 453 million m2 with an additional 700 million m2 exported.
TABLE 1 The current market for geosynthetics in India.
Geosynthetic Type Domestic Production (M sq. m) Imports (M sq. m) Domestic Consumption (M sq. m) Exports (M sq. m)
Geotextiles 800 100 200 700
Geogrids 100 100
Geomembranes 140 50 190
Jute and Coir Geotextiles 10 10
PVD 3 3
TOTAL 1053 150 503 700

Session 1: Roadway applications

“Introductory remarks and use of geosynthetics
in flexible pavements,”
Prof. K. Rajagopal, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

“Geosynthetics for road applications,”
David Shercliff, senior sales director,
Terram Geosynthetics.

“Geosynthetics for road applications:
User’s perspective,”

Sudhir Mathur, chief general manager–technology, National Highway Authority of India.

“The utilization of geosynthetics for construction and rehabilitation of bituminous pavement,”
Satish Pandey, scientist, Flexible Pavement Division, Central Road Research Institute.

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS India is a rapidly developing country. It is at the stage where all forms of infrastructure need construction of new systems or rehabilitation and upgrading of existing facilities. Roads and highway infrastructure is of utmost importance.

An increase in traffic density, heavy allowable axle loads (up to 120 kN), and the harsh climate are destructive for India’s roadways. Geosynthetics can be effectively used for infrastructure projects involving roads, resulting in savings, improved performance, and good serviceability on both a short- and long-term basis.

Major advantages with the use of geosynthetics include: reduction in pavement base and sub base thickness, stabilization and reinforcement to avoid pumping of soil fines, reduction or avoidance of reflective cracking, increase the lifetime of the pavement, reduction in soil erosion, reduction of setback requirements for land, and reduction in use of natural materials.

Geosynthetics have exhibited good benefit/cost ratios in India. India has the second-longest road network (4.7 million km) in the world after the U.S. (6.4 million km) and followed by China (4.3 million km). However, the use of geosynthetics for road applications has been limited.

Session 2: Shore and bank
protection applications

Welcome and introductory remarks
by Prof. R. Sunderavadivelu, Department of Ocean
Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

“Geosynthetics for shore and bank protection,”
Murari Ratnam, director, Central Soil and Materials Research Station, Ministry of Water Resources, government of India.

“Advance technology: Cost-effective solutions for riverbank protection,”
Harish Kumar Varma, senior project officer, Natural Resources and Agriculture, Asian Development Bank; A. K. Mitra, chairman, Technical Advisory Committee–Water Resources Department, government of Assam.

“Ullal sustainable coastal protection project,”
Channappa Naik, project director, Public Works
Department, government of Karnataka.

“Experiences and benefits from various geosynthetics products in the port infrastructure sector,”
Abhishek Basu, head of GeoTechnical Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd.

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS Floods are a recurring phenomena in India. They vary in magnitude but affect most parts of the country almost every year.

With the increase in population and development, there has been a tendency to occupy the floodplain, often resulting in serious consequences. Flood management and control rely heavily on geotextile tubes, containers, and bags.

Geosynthetics started playing a role in permanent riverbank protection after 2000. In India, geotextile bags cost around $2 million USD per km where concrete blocks cost about $5 million USD per km. In addition, geosynthetics perform better than concrete as water protection largely because of their permeability, flexibility, and ease of underwater placement.

Session 3: Landslide
and rock fall application

Welcome and introductory remarks,
Maj. Gen. U. S. Dadu, Border Road Organization.</em

“Geosynthetics for landslide and rock falls,” Dr. V. Venkateswarlu, director, National Institute of Rock Mechanics, Ministry of Mines, government of India.</em

“Geosynthetics for dam applications,” Satish Naik, CEO, Best Geotechnics Private Ltd.</em

“Raw materials for geosynthetics,” Dr. Sunil Mahajan, PP Technical Group–Product Application Research Centre, Reliance Industries Ltd.</em

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS Hazards generated due to rock falls and slides because of unstable slopes and weathering cause considerable harm to people and infrastructure in vulnerable areas if left unprotected. This kind of problem is faced in mines, highways, and railroads in mountainous regions where excavations have been made.

To mitigate these problems, protection measures can be made with geosynthetic solutions such as rockfall embankments, erosion and sediment control mats, and rock fall curtains. All were discussed and critiqued during the session.

Session 4: Railway applications

Welcome and introductory remarks, Alok Kumar, executive director, Civil Engineering–
General Railway Board.

“Geosynthetics for railway application:
User’s perspectives,”
Brijesh Kumar, executive director, Geotechnical Engineering Division, Research Design
& Standards Organization.

“Jute-based geotextiles for
infrastructure applications,”
P. K. Choudhury, project coordinator,
National Jute Board.

“Geosynthetics for railway applications,” Vikramjiet Roy, managing director, Maccaferri Environmental Solutions Private Ltd.

“Innovative new geosynthetics for
railway applications,”
David Shercliff, senior sales director, Terram Geosynthetics.

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS The Indian Railways network is perhaps the most intricate in the world, currently encompassing three different gauges. It is a conglomeration of a number of private companies inherited by independent India 66 years ago.

Today, the Indian Railways network is the fourth largest in the world with a total route network of about 64,600km spread across 7,146 stations. It operates more than 19,000 trains every day. More than 30 million passengers travel by trains on a daily basis in India and around 975 million tonnes of freight were transported via trains in 2012.

Maintenance of the substructure as well as the superstructure can be enhanced by the use of geosynthetics in the ballast, as well as within the various components of the cross section and the foundation subsoil. Railway ballast and subsoil are critical because they are subjected to heavy cyclic stresses over long durations and traction loads. With good material getting scarcer and quarrying restrictions, geosynthetic solutions are plentiful. Geosynthetics play an important role in enhancing railbed performance and catering to the new demands of higher loads and higher speeds.

Session 5: Landfills, lining,
mining applications

Introductory remarks and geosynthetics
for landfills,
Prof. Manoj Datta, civil engineering department, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

“Geosynthetics for canal and reservoir lining,” Vivek Kapadia, superintending engineer, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd.

“Geosynthetics for mining users,” P. G. Samandhray, general manager, Gujarat Mineral Development Corp. Ltd.

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS In India, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) developed regulations in 2000 that deal with the criteria for location, site specification, site investigation, planning and design, waste acceptance, landfill liners and covers, construction, and operations as well as inspection, monitoring, and record keeping. In addition, requirements for landfill liner and cover criteria were specified.

Guidelines and checklists have been provided by CPCB (Aug. 18, 2000) for evaluation of municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. This requires construction of a non-permeable lining system at the base and walls of the waste disposal area, consisting of a composite barrier 1.5mm-thick HDPE or equivalent geomembrane and a clay liner having permeability less than 1 × 10-7cm/sec. The document also gives technical guidance on how to close an existing landfill. Moving forward, it is envisioned that each of India’s 23 states will have 10 landfills with one for hazardous wastes. Each hazardous-waste landfill will have a footprint of 500–2,500m2/year and the MSW facilities would each be 2,500–40,000m2/year.

The use of geosynthetics for lining canals is more efficient and cost effective than conventional concrete lining or riprap. Geosynthetics have a greater benefit/cost ratio and require considerably less operation and maintenance than conventional construction. There are mega-canal projects about to commence in two India states: a 453-km canal in Gujarat and a 75-km canal in Rajasthan. Both are designed for flows in excess of 1,000m3/sec, with the main canal having a 90m width and up to a 10.5m depth.


An additional highlight of the summit was a tour of CTM Geosynthetic Co., a vendor for the Maccaferri Corp. The company was founded by Amit Agarwal in 2012 and is a division of CTM Technical Textiles Ltd. The company makes woven polyester geogrids and polyethylene agricultural textiles. After a tour of the manufacturing facility and laboratory, we experienced an authentic India dinner at Vishalla. What a fantastic evening!

GSI and BTRA agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in September 2014, and the MOU was signed by Prem Malik, chairman of BTRA and George Koerner, director of GSI. The GSI–BTRA MOU is the fifth such agreement signed under GSI’s global cooperation program. These MOU programs, initiated in 1999, promote communication between GSI and other geosynthetic institutes worldwide. They foster awareness and standardization of our research, information, education, accreditation, and certification services. In addition, they broaden the outreach of our generic specifications. More information about the MOU program can be found on the GSI website.

In closing, we would like to thank Dr. Dessi and Raja Bhattacharjee of CII for a marvelous summit and a fantastic venue. We experienced 27 speakers during the two-day event. I was impressed with the knowledge of geosynthetics and enjoyed vigorous discussion after each presentation. We personally would like to thank the staff at CII for all their hard work. It was nice to participate in such a successful event.

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