Engineers partner with India’s Government to boost rural roads

University of Birmingham civil engineering experts will work with India’s Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) to create a hi-tech monitoring system that will allow transport chiefs to respond to damage and deterioration on the country’s rural roads.

Farmers and people living in rural communities will benefit from the Birmingham experts working with their Indian partners, as they evaluate technologies and standards for the construction and maintenance of rural roads.

As well as helping Government transport bosses at the National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency (NRIDA) to meet the targets of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Gram Sadak Yojana programme II and III, the British engineers will provide MoRD with mechanisms that allow automated analysis of rural road condition.

A team of University experts led by Dr Michael Burrow and Dr Gurmel Ghataora will work with one of MoRD’s Rural Connectivity and Training Centres to set up a Global Centre of Excellence in Rural Roads. The initiative will bring together leading research groups and practitioners, initially from India and the UK, with the aim of developing a global reach.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood signed a range of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MoRD at a special signing ceremony in Delhi. The agreement forms a key part of the University’s strategic vision to continue building meaningful education and research partnerships in India.

Professor Sir David Eastwood commented: “The University of Birmingham is committed to forging meaningful education and research partnerships in India. We are a global ‘civic’ university, and proud that our civil engineering experts are working with partners in India to contribute to improving the well-being of its citizens.’

Today’s agreement sees the University of Birmingham and MoRD working together on promoting research, building traffic capacity and redefining standards of practice in the construction and maintenance of rural roads.

MoRD Additional Secretary Alka Upadhyaya commented: “Improving rural roads is helping to increase trade between villages and towns, as well as improving people’s access to job opportunities and boosting school enrolment and attendance. Farmers can demand a better price for their produce - increasing their incomes.

“We look forward to working with the University of Birmingham to create a partnership that will further improve India’s road network connecting towns and villages - benefiting a host of communities across the country.’

MORD will also identify training needs amongst those working on rural roads in India, so that experts from the University can provide professional-development programmes to address these needs.

Dr. Manu Sasidharan, Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, commented: “As we work with our partners in MoRD, we gain a valuable insight into transport issues in India. Importantly, we create a partnership to build capacity and joint research, whilst providing training to Indian civil engineers - developing world-leading technologies to drive global understanding to help resolve the road infrastructure facing rural communities in India.’

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