Using NGI innovation for gigantic Indian road project

May 30th, 2019 30. May 2019

National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL) aims to secure some of the most dangerous transportation routes between central parts of India and the Kashmir region. To solve these enormous challenges, they have engaged EMerald Geomodelling, through NGI.

Some of the world’s most dangerous roads can be found in the Jammu and Kashmir regions of the Himalayas. Many roads here are closed in the winter, and Indian authorities currently use helicopters to secure supplies to these areas. NHIDCL has therefore launched a comprehensive programme of road and infrastructure development projects in the northernmost areas of India.

Helicopter geoscanning in mountainerous terrain


Road safety on the agenda

The challenge facing NHIDCL is to build safe infrastructure in the most efficient way. Knowledge of the ground conditions and possible fractured or weak zones is critical for achieving this.  NHIDCL has employed NGI and its recent innovation EMerald Geomodelling to use helicopter geoscanning. This innovative technique will supply reliable data on ground conditions in the region needed for decision-makers.

“Planning, designing and maintaining infrastructures in the Himalayas is a challenging task,” says Sanjeev Malik, executive director of NHIDCL. “We are looking forward to implementing these innovative Norwegian techniques supporting our overall aim: projects with high efficiency”

It is the first time helicopter geoscanning is being used in India for surveying ground conditions for tunnels.  This makes it possible to generate geological engineering models. With these, a solid decision basis is available for further planning of road routes and safe transport throughout the year.

Extreme conditions

EMerald Geomodelling along with NGI’s tunnelling experts will provide information for the construction of four tunnels with a total length exceeding 50 km. The areas range from deep valleys to high mountains, with the highest road pass being 5500 meters above sea level. This is more than 100 meters higher than Mount Everest Base Camp.

“This is a very exciting project,” says Andreas Pfaffhuber, CEO of EMerald Geomodelling. “The region’s extreme variations in terrain present great challenges for the safe movement of people and goods. Rock fall and avalanche risks challenge reliable infrastructure. Existing roads may remain closed from October to May due to this. We are looking forward to contributing to efficient and reliant infrastructure and a safe transportation network for the region”

Helicopter geoscanning surveys have never before been carried out in such high mountainous areas. Ordinary helicopters cannot be used at such elevations. Therefore, Indian military helicopters will be used for the surveying. Work is expected to be completed this summer and geological engineering models will be delivered in early autumn 2019.

Cooperation across borders

This project is delivered in cooperation with Anandjiwala Infra Advisory (AIA) in India and SkyTEM Surveys from Denmark. SkyTEM is EMerald Geomodelling’s technology partner. They are suppling the advanced airborne geophysical measurements that will be used in the project.

The method is based on electromagnetic signals that can sense variations in the ground. These signals can identify weakness zones that hide deep within the mountains. AIA is an Indian engineering firm that assists the project with local know-how. This is essential to master the complex logistical challenges in such an endeavour.