From Our Experts

Current pandemic is slated to change the complete behavioral pattern of human beings world over in short to medium term. These changes will likely become permanent if pandemic is not controlled either through achievement of herd immunity or introduction of an effective vaccine.

Infra players -- developers, planners, designers or investors -- have to take into account these changes in behavioural pattern to align their actions and business accordingly.

Before we analyze various dimensions of changes in infrastructure development post covid, we should take into account a major India (probably all emerging market) specific issue of labor intensity of all constructions. Treatment of labour, wage structure and site sanitation and labour housing will undergo a massive change now on. This need is being acutely felt now as migrant crisis unfolds daily in media.

Regulatory action and societal pressure will ensure that labour welfare is given paramount importance in all construction planning and execution. Attendant cost will suitably reflect in project cost and user charges. This aspect coupled with impact on other dimensions will likely change the whole dynamics of PPP project models. Government led development will become more paramount vis a vis private sector led development.

Social distancing and safety concern will move people away from public transport and also reduce propensity to travel. Thus, future of work will require more teleportation and less transportation. This has major implication for all types of transport projects like city bud, metro, interstate highway projects etc.

COVID also bodes ill for civil aviation sector for another reason also. As international trade and commerce shrinks with globalization taking a back seat and as nations realize that self reliance can not be completely sacrificed, supply chains will more and more limit within national boundaries.

Ports, airports, shipping will all take hit with reversal of globalization trends and shrinking of international trade.

COVID-led recession will slow the pace of new project development. Access to capital will not remain easy though mega stimulus package may temporarily enhance liquidity in emerging capital markets as it happened during international financial crisis of 2008 onwards. However, it will not sustain for long and, in any case, long-term fund availability from international sources which is so crucial for infrastructure projects financing will diminish steeply. This will further impede private investment.

At micro level significant changes will occur in design philosophy and project planning. Demand surveys, national and state level sectoral plan formulation, building of project shelf will require more precise thinking and working.

Design philosophy and codes will have to be suitably tweaked to provide for rarefied density of users and resultant reduction in design loads, wherever that us a critical load.

One massive gain of COVID crisis will be coming forth of technocratic talent of the country in management of infrastructure sector as one can see already happening in health sector. For sure, that will be a lasting gain of the crisis.