The construction industry in India is quite significant in its importance and is second only to agriculture in terms of manpower employed. The development of the infrastructure is also influenced by the construction sector and the annual volume of infrastructure construction in India is estimated to be around 1b Crores, which is about 8% of the Nations’s GDP. Of the two major sectors in construction, viz., infrastructure and real estate, the latter is quite significant, contributing about 6.3% of the Nations’s GDP in 2013 and probably around 15% in 2015. The residential segment is the bulk composition of the real estate sector, covering more than 90% of the real estate volume. Available statistics clearly establish that there is a pressing need to add substantial volumes of housing, mainly for the economical building construction at a rapid rate, and needless to add, with the best possible quality.
Traditionally, Indian building construction has been mainly based on conventional cast-in-situ work for all concrete elements. In recent decades, there has been a demand for Industrialised Building System [IBS] and many system formworks have been tried out. Many efficient project management systems, such as the Lean Construction concept, have also made their entry to speed up construction and to bring in a mass production orientation. prefabrication is one of the systems but has had only a limited application. Internationally precast concrete construction is a significant component of all residential construction in concrete. In India, even though precast concrete construction has been in vogue for many decades, it has been existing in reasonably large scales only in pockets, mainly for a long span roof elements and for bridge construction, apart from a few architectural building elements. It is reported that in India only about 2% of the total market value for concrete construction, whereas the remaining 98% is by cast-in-situ construction. This article presents some possible reasons why Precast concrete construction has not been able to claim its rightful place of importance in India and also looks at some of the remedial measures possible to make the correction
Why Precast Concrete Construction?
The many advantages of precast concrete construction over cast-in-situ concrete construction are quite well known. However, for the sake of completeness the main advantages can be summarised as follows: Speed of construction, better quality, and finishes, more oriented to system construction, lesser dependence on labor, and hence less uncertainty levels for scheduling, etc. India has an acknowledged shortfall in housing for the lower-income groups and the various Central Governments over time have been coming up with many schemes for accelerating the development of the sector of mass housing. Precast concrete construction would be ideally suited for this application, as has been repeatedly proved with great success in Russia, Finland, Australia, and East European countries. In the West, the USA has shown a good lead-in standardizing and promoting precast concrete construction for infrastructure and the real estate sector. Many developed countries have proved that precast is an option for rapid construction is the residential building sector. India on its and both the government and private sector can accelerate the use of precast concrete construction in residential and commercial construction.