Peeping 10 YEARS ahead into India’s Future

Some talk about the population explosion, some speak of India becoming the next superpower, and many discuss the political and economic changes and all the new infrastructure that will make way for a better lifestyle for all. While no one knows for sure what the future hold, let’s try and take a peek.


TEN years from now seems like a long time. But India is already on its way to the future. And while some stats seem scary and impending, there’s also a lot to look forward to.

When it comes to our country’s population, we all know that it’s been on a steady incline since a long time. And by 2025, India will be the world’s most populous nation, with a population of just under 1.5 billion, a little ahead of China.

Long ago, Gandhiji had made a statement that “India lives in her villages”. Well some forecast that will remain true with under 40% of the population in urban areas.
Agriculture will remain the mainstay of employment with over 40% still dependent on it even as its share of economic activity continues to shrink.

Talking about numbers, literacy will rise significantly to over 80%, but that will still leave about one in five adults illiterate.

At least 2.6% of all children born will die within

their first year, but on the brighter side, life expectancy will cross 70 for both genders. The fertility rate — the number of children born to a woman — will fall just below two. Ironically, this will be many decades after the slogan “hum do, hamare do” was originally conceived.

So maybe these numbers and stats don’t make you smile. But on the economic front, rapid strides would have been made.

Gross domestic product (GDP) will touch nearly $8 trillion, almost four times the current level, and the addition to the GDP in the decade will be nearly thrice the amount added in the 68 years since Independence. With population growth slowing down, this will also mean per capita incomes rise about four-fold to $6,000.

India’s integration with the global economy will be even higher with trade in goods and services accounting for nearly two-thirds of GDP. The average Indian will consume over four times the power she does today.
But the good news is, India will be

more digital than ever. Internet users will account for anywhere between 50% and 80% of the total population. The market for passenger cars will be around 7.2 million a year, almost the size of the current US market. Over 320 million people will travel by air within the country each year, meaning nearly a million Indians will take to the skies each day.

With all this progress in mind, the Republic of India is considered one of the emerging superpowers of the world. This potential is attributed to several indicators, the primary ones being its demographic trends and a rapidly expanding economy and by GDP India became world’s fastest growing economy in 2018 with 8.4% GDP rate (mid-year terms).

The country must overcome many economic, social, and political problems before it can be considered a superpower. It is also not yet as influential on the international stage when compared to United States and former Soviet Union.
Just a few years ahead, the world is expected to exit the


“fossil fuel age”, and perhaps the “nuclear energy age”, and enter the “renewable-energy age” or even further into the “fusion power age”, if and whenever these technologies become economically sustainable. Being a region in the sunny tropical belt, the Indian subcontinent could greatly benefit from a renewable energy trend, as it has the ideal combination of both – high solar insolation and a big consumer base density.

India and her citizens seem to be ready for these developments. Indians are getting richer faster than residents of any other major economy. Private wealth in the country has been rising spectacularly. It grew 98% between 2008 and 2018 and is expected to grow even faster in the next 10 years. By 2028, the total private wealth held by Indians will be around $23 trillion (Rs 1,590 lakh crore), the report estimates. This will be more than double the total wealth held by individuals in the UK and Germany then.

If Indians are changing so will their cities. This is where the Smart Cities Mission comes in.

Definition of Smart Cities vary from broad descriptions such as the Smart City Council’s “a city that has digital technology embedded across all city functions” to more data-driven explanations such as IBM’s “a city that makes optimal use of all the interconnected

information available today to better understand and control its operations and optimize the use of limited resources”.

In future, Smart City technologies are likely to expand in scope and revolutionize areas such as healthcare, education and policing, while also supporting the growth and development of engaged residents capable of understanding and utilising digital solutions and services. We shall call them Smart Citizens.

Smart Cities Mission envisions developing an area within 100 cities in the country as model areas
based on an area development plan, which is expected to have a rub-off effect on other parts of the city, and nearby cities and towns.

Cities will be selected based on the Smart Cities challenge, where cities will compete in a countrywide competition to obtain the benefits from this mission.

As of last January, 99 cities have been selected to be upgraded as part of the Smart Cities Mission after they defeated other cities in the challenge.

It is a five-year program in which, except for West Bengal, all of the Indian states and Union territories are participating by nominating at least one city for the Smart Cities challenge. Financial aid will be given by the central and state governments


between 2017-2022 to the cities, and the mission will start showing results from 2022 onwards.
The Union government agreed to give each of the cities Rs 100 crore every year for five years, with an equal contribution coming from the state government and the urban local body combined. SMC is carried out through a special purpose vehicle (SPV), registered under the Companies Act, 2013, instead of through a municipal corporation, and also encourages private investment.

These cities will be developed to have basic infrastructure such as assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT
connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation. Some of key features of Smart Cities are: Promoting mixed land use in area-based developments, housing and inclusiveness, creating walkable localities, preserving and developing open spaces, promoting a variety of transport options, making governance citizen-friendly and cost effective, giving an identity to the city and applying Smart Solutions to infrastructure and services in area- based development.

Among the projects in SCM are affordable housing, integrated multi-modal transport, creation and preservation of open spaces, and waste and traffic management, among others. The projects focus either on a particular area of the city or the entire city.

Throughout the history, technology has played a critical role in the evolution of cities. Urban sanitation can be traced to the Indus Valley Civilization, the remnants of which were found to incorporate early waste and drainage systems, making streets and waterways more hygienic. The next era of urban innovation will be based on advances in technology.

This time, however, progress will be in the digital realm, where emerging technology such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) is facilitating the emergence of Smart Cities featuring advanced information and communication technology, helping drive sustainable development and improving the quality of life. Real estate has a key role to play in Smart City development and is also set to be one of the major beneficiaries of this new technology.

The integration of Smart Buildings with various components like energy, technology etc. will bring multitude of benefits for the real estate industry, while redefining several long-standing trends and fundamentals.

This means there will be more data-driven real estate development. The increased availability of data will enable stakeholders to better understand a property or site, its surroundings and residents. This can be used to guide site selection, planning process and building design.

Examples include an investor using foot traffic data generated by embedded sensors to inform its selection of sites to construct new retail premises, or a tenant doing the same to lease a property. However, given privacy concerns, this could be challenging unless such data is provided by the Government as an open source.

Smart buildings, which use automated processes to control a variety of operations such as tracking and managing energy, environment, security and other key features, are expected to see stronger demand in the coming years.

Advances in technology are transforming the traditional processes of companies deciding on a location where they would like to do business;

buying or leasing an office; fitting it out to their specifications; and installing it with technology for their staff to perform their jobs.

The digital age is reversing this process; individuals are in the driving seat and companies’ decisions are being informed by connectivity and accessibility as well as talent attraction and retention. While location will remain important, this will require buildings and workspaces to be far more flexible and adaptable than before. New developments will therefore have to be constructed with flexibility in mind.

All this technology means that data centres are set to play a leading role in Smart Cities as repositories for massive volume of data will be required to be collected, stored, analysed and archived. Data centres are already becoming as important a part of business operations as office, retail and industrial assets, supported by increasingly digital world, IT development and the importance enterprise IT strategy plays in business delivery.

This will drive demand for state-of-the-art data centre development in and around the Smart Cities. While the real estate industry is making rapid progress in development and innovation of Smart Buildings, it is critical that they gain a thorough understanding of how these developments will fit into and align with the broader Smart City ecosystem.

In particular, real estate industry stakeholders will need to understand emerging data sources and how they can capitalize on them to inform the development, construction and management of property assets.


Beijing Airport, China

Started off with being an exclusive privilege of a select few, the Beijing airport, is now set to be one of the busiest airports in the world. So, secure your seatbelts we’re about to take off on a fascinating journey of an airport.



Beijing Capital International Airport is the primary international airport serving Beijing city in China. And not to the traveller’s delight, it is located 32 km northeast of Beijing’s city centre, in an enclave of Chaoyang District and the surroundings of that enclave in suburban Shunyi District. The airport is owned and operated by a state-controlled company called the Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited. The airport code is PEK, after the long forgotten Romanised name, Peking.

Beijing Capital has quickly escalated in rankings of the world’s busiest airports in the past decade. By 2009, it was already the busiest airport in Asia in terms of passenger traffic and total traffic movements. It has been the world’s second busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic since subsequent years. The airport registered 557,167 aircraft take-offs and landings, ranking 6th in the world in 2012. In terms of cargo traffic, Beijing airport has also witnessed rapid growth. By 2012, the airport had become the 13th busiest airport in the world by cargo traffic, registering 1,787,027 tons.


Beijing Airport opened on March 2nd, 1958. Back then, the airport was just one small terminal building, which by the way, still stands to this day, apparently just for a few VIPs and their chartered jets. The first International flight to China and Beijing Capital International Airport was of Pakistan International Airlines from Islamabad. As time passed, this place got busier and on 1st January 1980, a newer, larger Terminal 1 was opened, with docks for 10 to 12 aircrafts. The terminal was larger than the one built in the 1950s, but soon enough, its size became relatively inadequate.

In late 1999, to mark the 50th anniversary, the airport got a makeover once again, as Terminal 2 opened on November 1st of that year. Another round of expansion started in 2007. A third runway opened on October 29th 2007, to relieve congestion on the other two runways. Terminal 3 was completed in February 2008, just in time for the Beijing Olympics. And while they were at it, they also included a rail link to the city-centre. With China’s penchant for grandness, at its opening, the new Terminal 3 was the largest man made structure in the world in terms of area covered, and a major landmark representing Beijing as the growing and developing Chinese capital. This T3 covers about 200 football fields in floor space, boasted a capacity of 50 million passengers a year. The expansion was largely funded by a 30 billion yen loan from Japan and a 500-million-euro loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The loan is the largest ever granted by the EIB in Asia.

Thanks to hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics and adding its new terminal building, Beijing Capital has overtaken Tokyo Haneda to be the busiest airport in Asia based on scheduled seat capacity. But all that is going to sound modest compared to what’s coming next.

Rising out of farmland about 30 miles south of central Beijing, the new transport hub is a testament to the growth in civil aviation in China — which is expected to overtake the United States as the largest market in the coming years — and the government’s vision to develop its industrial north through infrastructure investment.


Due to limited capacity at Beijing Capital International Airport, a new airport in Daxing is being planned. The project was given final approval on 13 January 2013. Construction began in late 2014 and is expected to be completed this year.

Crews are putting the final touches on what will be one of the world’s largest and busiest airports. Designed by the late British architect Zaha Hadid, the phoenix-shaped Beijing Daxing International Airport is set to open in September as the latest major Chinese project, even as the country’s economy cools. Officials say the $12 billion Daxing airport could one day serve more than 100 million passengers per year, approaching the traffic volumes of the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Rising out of farmland about 30 miles south of central Beijing, the new transport hub is a testament to the growth in civil aviation in China — which is expected to overtake the United States as the largest market in the coming years

— and the government’s vision to develop its industrial north through infrastructure investment.
Construction started in 2014, before China’s economy began to slow. But the project fits the priorities of President Xi Jinping, whose government continues to spend heavily on infrastructure and transportation as key drivers of development.

The new airport in Beijing is also part of a major project by the Chinese government to develop the plain that includes the cities of Beijing and Tianjin as well as smog-blanketed Hebei province, which has mostly relied on agriculture and industries such as steel for economic growth.

Daxing airport will be at the centre of the new economic zone and will be accessible by rail to Xiong’an, a Hebei province farming town where China will relocate many “noncore” central government offices, essentially creating a secondary capital from scratch. The new airport is to serve passengers from 28 cities, who would be able to reach the airport within three hours via high-speed rail.

It has four runways and a 3.37 million-square-foot terminal building, with plans to accommodate 72 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo annually by 2025. Long-term plans are to handle more than 100 million passengers and 4 million tons of goods annually, with six runways in operation.

Daxing’s eventual projected passenger flow would put it among the world’s busiest airports. By comparison, Atlanta’s airport handled 107 million passengers in 2018 — the most in the world — followed by Beijing’s Capital airport, at 101 million, and Dubai International Airport at 89 million.

Nicknamed “the Starfish” by Chinese media, the Daxing airport will have five concourses spiralling from the primary hall. Five traditional Chinese gardens will be built where passengers can wait for their flights. So, if you’re planning a trip to China, know that your holiday will begin on a pleasant note, right at the airport.

Dubailand, Dubai

For a city that’s obsessed with the superlatives when it comes to technology and infrastructure, it is no surprise that Dubai is imagining the world’s largest entertainment complex. Let’s take a look.



A long imagined dream, announced in 2003, Dubailand is Dubai’s $64.3 billion answer to the world of entertainment. It is an entertainment complex being built in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which is owned by Tatweer (which belongs to Dubai Holding). It is a vivid example of the city’s vision to not only attract millions of tourists, but also offer its residents a world-class recreation experience. When announced in 2003 it was one of the most ambitious leisure developments ever proposed anywhere in the world. But development was severely impacted by global recession and Dubai’s financial crisis.

The development was put on hold in 2008 but resumed in 2013 with the 72,000 square-meter Dubai Miracle Gardens opening at the beginning of March. Dubailand will host various residential, sports, leisure, entertainment and shopping attractions, some of which are already operational, while the whole complex is expected to open before Expo 2020.

Dubailand is strategically located so as to stay not far away from the airport and the neighboring Emirates.

It is situated on the Emirates Ring Road and is in close proximity to the other landmarks in Dubai like the Burj Al Arab, and the Emirates towers and is only an hour way from the nation’s capital Abu Dhabi.

Dubailand has been sub-divided in to six zones to effectively manage the development and ensure that the growth is balanced in all of the zones.

These zones will provide product diversity, different cultural and socio economic mix and an initial critical mass of projects that will catalyze other peripheral uses.

When completed, Dubailand will have a total area of 278 sq. km and will include 45 “mega projects” and 200 sub projects. And there are more than 22 projects under construction already.

Dubailand is divided into six zones or as they like to call it, worlds.

Attractions and Experience World – 145 million sq. ft. – a world of vibrant characters, with its theme parks clustered around a landmark viewing tower and forming a “must see” attraction. The themed experiences and attractions for the entire family will form both a playground and a spectacle.

It will be eclectic and pulsating, day and night. Projects include: anchor theme parks, The Global Village, themed water parks, Kids City, Giants World and many more.

Retail & Entertainment World – 45 million sq. ft. – The development’s energy center, a vibrant destination of family entertainment and innovative retail concepts in a themed environment. An indoor and outdoor environment providing a vibrant mix of retail and entertainment. Projects include: Flea Market, World Trade Park, Auction World and Factory Outlets.


Themed Leisure and Vacation World – 311 million sq. ft. – The creation of appealing retreats for meeting the international demand for quality vacation village residences and resort hotels.

The attraction is imaginative and creative themed development concepts in an exotic edge of the desert but adjacent to major leisure and entertainment facilities.

Designs are themed escapism and will incorporate amenities such as formal waterfronts, canals, lakes and parks; the area itself is located alongside the Resort’s unique central linear park. Projects include: Women’s World, Destination Dubai, Desert Kingdom and Andalusian Resort & Spa.

Eco Tourism World – 806 million sq. ft. – An area devoted to preserving the desert heritage of Dubai and creating a habitat for animals from the region to be showcased in their elements. This area will also try to recreate the Safari experience and will provide a taste of the desert life through camp areas. Projects Include Desert Safari, Sand Dune Hotels, Desert Camps and Dubai Heritage Vision.

Sports and Outdoor World – 206 million sq. ft. – A stimulating arena of outdoor sports activities and mild adventure that we are sure is a result of the requests and interests of both residents and visitors.

The activities will optimize the use of the expansive area to build facilities capable of hosting world events as American football, soccer, cricket, rugby, etc.

These projects include indoor and outdoor venues, traditional and extreme sports such as Dubai Sports City, Emarat Sports World, Plantation Equestrian and Polo Club, Autodrome and Dubai Golf City.

Downtown – 5.66 million sq. ft. – A gateway to the overall development centered in Dubailand and forming the resort’s downtown, business and administrative district. A unique land bridge with impressive gateway towers and water cascades will create a strong sense of arrival and development identity for the Resort City. The Downtown retains the open space and leisure character of the overall development through its landscaping, water features and grand scale squares and piazzas. Projects include: Mall of Arabia the largest mall in the world. City Walk, which includes art displays, entertainment and outside dining. It also consists of wide boulevards, street cafes and theaters, lush parklands, lawns museums and common gardens. It also consists of Virtual Game World, which will be a cyber heaven with 3D interactive games.

Dubailand is also going to be home to the city’s largest public park, as big as London’s Hyde Park. Once complete, the new park will spread across 350 acres and will be three times bigger than Dubai’s Zabeel Park. It will act as a new destination for residents and tourists and provide a vibrant, natural environment, encouraging individuals to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

The park will provide a number of spaces that encourage exploration of nature and year-round activity for its visitors, including 30 kilometers of pedestrian pathways, 20 km jogging track, over 14 km cycle tracks and over 7 km of nature trails. It will also include 55 playgrounds for children, 45 sports grounds, five major events areas and retail space for shops, restaurants and coffee shops.

The large amount of natural landscape and trees is expected to improve the air quality of surrounding area, facilitate the preservation of existing biodiversity and an opportunity to enhance the urban ecology.

In addition to being a sports and entertainment destination, the public park will host innovation and smart-solutions, including sustainable on-site power generation, waste recycling and natural shading. The park will also have smart cards for ticketing, purchasing and Wi-Fi connectivity throughout.

The public garden will also include 10 sports grounds and one major events space. The park will also help preserve the environment through reducing water consumption by 5 litres per sq. m. and will be home to up to 15,000 trees of native and adopted species.

Besides attracting a huge number of tourists every year, Dubailand is quite popular among residents and visitors thanks to its affordable rents and freehold properties when compared to upscale areas like Dubai Marina and Downtown Dubai.

With comparatively less traffic and availability of schools, sports, entertainment and retail options, cultural hubs, the community is an ideal place for families. For those who like to put their fitness first, they are welcome to use the community swimming pools, fitness centers, gyms and well-being spas that are situated within the community. Located away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the tranquil community is one of the ideal places for those who like to live a quiet and peaceful life.

As massive as this project is, everyone’s eyes are on Dubai Expo 2020, waiting for this mammoth to finish and open its gates to the world. Sure it’ll draw in more tourists. But it’ll put Dubai and the UAE on the world map like never before.

Grandiosity Galore at the Munich Olympic Stadium

The architects Günther Behnisch and Frei Otto were in charge of designing and building the stadium that would host the Olympic Games in Munich 1972. Little did they know that they were building one of the most iconic stadiums in the World?



Distinctive, unique and outstanding, with its spectacular construction under the iconic roof, the Munich Olympic Stadium is not only the architectural centerpiece of the Olympic Park – since its opening in 1972 for the summer Olympics, it has also always been the most important venue of the biggest and greatest events in sports.

With peaks and valleys echoing the nearby Alps, the vast canopy of the Munich Olympic Stadium has been a local landmark. Intended to present a new face for post-war Germany, the stadium—strikingly modernist in character—was meant to stand in harmony with its surroundings.

Despite these modest intentions, however, controversy surrounded the project from its outset, which centered on skyrocketing costs, the erosion of local heritage, and the grim specter of Germany’s recent past.

The decision to hold the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich held considerable political significance for the republic of West Germany. The international spectacle of the Games was one of the nation’s best chances to build a new image for itself.

From 1931 to 1939 Munich Airport was located on the Oberwiesenfeld. After the World War II, the debris rubble

from the bombing of the city was piled up, from which the Olympic Mountain emerged.

This was intentionally created oval, so that it could be used as a tribune foundation for a stadium to the already existing ideas were.

In February 1967, an architectural competition was announced and a total of 104 drafts were submitted, one of which came from architect Günter Behnisch and his associate, Fritz Auer, who planned to build the stadium, the Olympic Hall and the swimming pool closely adjacent to each other west of the Olympic Tower.


About 436 kilometers of steel cables were strung between fifty-eight cast steel pylons, supporting a sinuous canopy composed of eight thousand Plexiglass panels. The enormous structure ultimately covered almost 75,000 square meters, making it the most ambitious construction project West Germany had ever seen. The roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich, which covers and unifies the stadium, tracks and pools, was developed based on the use of computerized mathematical procedures in determining their form and behavior, resulting in an architectural form of ‘minimal surfaces’.

While Otto’s vision of a light, cost-efficient structure did not come to pass, site planning succeeded in achieving Behnisch’s goal to distance the new Olympic Park from its fascist predecessor. With its clear axes and bold Neo-classical buildings, Werner March’s design for the 1936 Berlin Olympics was an architectural boast, proclaiming the power of the Third Reich through its visual domination of its surroundings.

In contrast, Munich’s stadium stood equal with—even subordinate to—an environment of hills, streams, and small lakes.

Colors such as red, gold, and purple were also deemed suggestive of dictatorship and therefore eschewed in favor of the natural blues and greens of the Bavarian countryside – ironically paying respect to the local heritage the design was accused of disregarding altogether.The Summer Olympic Games in 1972 with the competitions in track and field and brilliant winners like Klaus Wolfermann, Ulrike Meyfarth or Heide Rosendahl; in football location of the World Cup in 1974 with Gerd Müller scoring the decisive goal in the final against the Netherlands and the European Championship 1988, when Marco van Basten marked one of the best goals of the century and helped Holland to win the title. Furthermore, this stadium has witnessed many unforgotten international matches of the German football team, from the inaugural match in May 1972 against the USSR (4-1) until the most remarkable 1-5 defeat against England in a World Cup Qualifier in 2001.

Moreover the Olympic Stadium has been the home ground for Bayern Munich for more than three decades. In the 33 years from 1972 to 2005, Bayern had played here the team has celebrated 17 German championships in the Stadium or had at least laid the foundation for it.

In its history, the Olympic Stadium has experienced many more significant major events in sports. But also in terms of culture the Olympic Stadium is still one of Germany’s most important and leading locations. AC/DC, Robbie Williams, Genesis, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, the Three Tenors – that’s enough names to impress. Many stars of music have delivered impressive open-air concerts in front of a sold out crowd. There have also been some Rock festivals, like “Rock im Park” or the “Rockavaria” in 2015, lasting several days and drawing tens of thousands of music lovers into the Stadium.

The stadium still stands, its innovative canopy slated to undergo a renovation costing over 100 million EUR, having survived public outcry and its own designer’s frustrated intentions to become a lasting monument for the people of modern Germany.

Since 12 September 1972, a total of 51.6 million spectators have been drawn to over 2000 events in this glorious Olympic stadium. And over 13.6 million visitors have taken the stadium tour. Munich’s Olympic Stadium has been a crowd puller ever since the first games were held – and it will continue to be one for many years to come.

Meeting of the Twains – The Panama Canal in Panama

One of the world’s greatest marvels, the Panama Canal stretches 80 kms from Panama City on the Pacific side to Colón on the Atlantic side. Its locks paved the course for the dimensions of ships built worldwide. This artificial Canal connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific and serves as a conduit for maritime trade.



As a tribute to the most important civil engineering works of the 20th century, the American Society of Civil Engineers prepared a ranking of the seven wonders of the modern world. Among them is the Panama Canal, the oldest construction on a list in which it rubs shoulders with the Empire State Building in New York, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Eurotunnel linking France and the United Kingdom.

Opened on 15 August 1914, the construction of the canal became a titanic struggle against the elements: malaria, yellow fever, landslides, floods and a humid climate. More than a century later, the great transoceanic bridge that joins the Pacific and the Atlantic through the Isthmus of Panama is still operational and now accommodates larger vessels, thanks to its subsequent expansion.

From its opening until 1979, the Panama Canal was controlled exclusively by the United States In 1979, however, control of the canal passed to the Panama Canal Commission, a joint agency of the United States and the Republic of Panama, and complete control passed to Panama at noon on December 31, 1999. Although, administration of the canal is the responsibility of the Panama Canal Authority.

The canal has three sets of double locks. They are Miraflores and Pedro Miguel on the Pacific side and Gatún on the Atlantic. A 10-year expansion completed in 2016 added two three-chambered locks, allowing the passage of super-sized ‘neoPanamax’ ships. These were Cocoli on the Pacific and Agua Clara on the Atlantic. Between the locks, ships pass through a huge artificial lake, Lago Gatún, created by the Gatún Dam across the Río Chagres, and the Culebra Cut, a 12.7km trough through the mountains. With each ship’s passage, an astonishing 197 million liters of fresh water is released into the ocean.

A lock is a device used for raising and lowering boats, ships and other watercraft between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. The locks at Panama Canal are operated by gravity flow of water from Gatún, Alajuela, and Miraflores lakes. The locks are of such uniform length, width, and depth that those dimensions are used to make ships even today. These locks were built in pairs to permit the simultaneous transit of vessels in either direction. Each lock gate has two leaves, 65 feet wide and 6.5 feet thick, set on hinges. The gates are powered by electric motors recessed in the lock walls.

One or more pilots, who board each ship before it leaves the terminus, take ships through the canal. With waiting time, it takes ships a good 25 hours to navigate. The average transit time, once a vessel has been authorized to proceed, is about 10 hours from one end of the canal to the other.

As early as the 16th century, the Spanish recognized the advantages of a canal across the Central American isthmus. Eventually two routes came to be considered, one through Panama and the other through Nicaragua.


The first attempt to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama began in 1881 after the Colombian government granted a concession to the privately owned Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interocéanique. The company, under the leadership of Ferdinand de Lesseps, was financed by French capital from countless small investors.

Impetus for selecting the route through Panama increased with the construction (by the United States) of the Panama Railroad in the mid-19th century. The eventual route of the canal closely followed that of the railroad.The first attempt to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama began in 1881 after the Colombian government granted a concession to the privately owned Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interocéanique. The company, under the leadership of Ferdinand de Lesseps, was financed by French capital from countless small investors. Because of Lesseps’s recent triumph building the Suez Canal, he was able to attract public support for building a sea-level canal across Panama.

Progress was costly and extremely slow. As a cost-saving measure, the plans for a sea-level canal were eventually dropped in favour of a high-level lock-type canal, but that change had little effect. With no foreseeable return on its investment, the French public lost faith in the project and its leader.

By the summer of 1904, work under American administration was under way all along the canal route. The French had abandoned the sea-level approach in favour of a high-level canal with locks, and indeed that was desirable as it would cost less and would eliminate potential problems arising from differences in sea levels at either end of the waterway. Yet engineers still disagreed on the type of canal that should be built, and they faced another problem of equal importance: how to manage the Chagres River, which rose in the northeast highland region of Panama and emptied into the Atlantic.

In 1906, Roosevelt resolved the matter when he sided with Chief Engineer John Frank Stevens, who argued for a lock-type canal. The plan ultimately approved by Congress was similar in all essential respects to the one proposed by Lépinay but rejected by Lesseps.

Included in the proposal was an enormous earthen dam across the Chagres River at Gatún.


The dam created what was then the largest artificial lake in the world (Gatún Lake), and at the same time, it brought a considerable part of the Chagres River under control. So massive was the lake that it was able to accommodate the greater part of the river even at flood stage. Perhaps more important, the man-made lake formed more than 20 miles (32 km) of the canal route.

Where tropical fevers—yellow fever and malaria in particular—had decimated the ranks of French workers with an estimated loss of over 20,000 lives, those in charge of the American effort were determined to prevent the same thing from happening again. American medical staff understood how the diseases were transmitted and how they could be controlled, and by 1906 the Canal Zone had become safer for work to resume in earnest. Even with such precautions, accidents and disease claimed the lives of 5,609 workers during the American effort. At times more than 40,000 people were employed on the project, mostly labourers from the West Indian islands of Barbados, Martinique, and Guadeloupe, though many engineers, administrators, and skilled tradesmen were from the United States.

Despite all of those challenges, the canal was opened to traffic on August 15, 1914, more than three decades after the first attempt to build the canal had begun. It remains the greatest engineering feat yet attempted.

Underwater Marmaray Tunnel in Turkey Connects Europe with Asia

First suggested by the Ottoman sultan Abdülmejid in 1860, Marmaray Tunnel is a railway tunnel under the Bosphorus strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Today, let’s take a ride through this architectural marvel.



AS a country, Turkey is often described as a bridge between Europe and Asia due to its distinct geographical location. But now, a multi-billion dollar underwater railway tunnel will also be connecting the two continents. The Marmaray link, named by combining the Sea of Marmara with “ray,” meaning rail in Turkish, is a part of $4.5 billion, 76-kilometer mega-project launched by the Turkish Government in way back in 2004.
Alternately described as the long-lost link between Europe and Asia or the end of the city of Istanbul as we know it, it is the world’s deepest underwater railway tunnel located under the Bosphorus. Almost a mile of the 8.5-mile (13.6km) tunnel between the European and Asian sides of Turkey’s largest city is immersed under 56 metres of water.
Around 12 million people travel into and through the city of Istanbul every day and the Marmaray Project provides mass transit for the city’s population. After about 10 years of intensive research and study, a funding agreement was struck in 1999 between the Republic of Turkey and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation. This brought together 35% of the total $4.5 billion project funding and allowed the underwater tunnel to be constructed.
There are four main components of the Marmaray Project: the underwater railway tunnel, improvement of the Gebze-Haydarpasa and Sirkeci-Halkali suburban railway lines, electrical and mechanical works, and the procurement of new rolling stock. With the opening of the tunnel, commuter trains have started operating from Ayrılıkçeşme station (Asia) to Kazlıçeşme station (Europe).
It required extensive skill and engineering expertise to see a project like this see the light of the day. A Japanese-Turkish consortium led by Taisei undertook the construction contract. The firms in the consortium include Kumagai Gumi of Japan, Gama Endustri Tesisleri Imalat ve Montaj and Nurol Construction and Trade of Turkey.
This mammoth scale project would require budgets of a similar scale. It was financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the European Investment Bank. JBIC lent $950m under a long-term low-cost loan while EIB provided a €650bn soft loan.
The Bosphorus (Istanbul Strait) is crossed by a 1.4 kilometres-long earthquake-proofed immersed tube, assembled from 11 sections, each as long as 130 metres and weighing up to 18,000 tons. The sections will be placed down to 60 metres below sea level of which 55 metres will be in water and 4.6 metres in earth. This underwater tube will be accessed by bored tunnels from Kazlıçeşme on the European side and Ayrılıkçeşme on the Asian side of Istanbul.
The Marmaray Project involved the construction of a tunnel under the Istanbul Strait. The idea was first mooted in 1860 but the depth of the water negated using traditional seabed, or below, tunneling methods.
The tube tunnel consists of two running lines separated by a dividing wall, pre-cast in lengths of around 100m before towing into place across the sea and dropped into place for joining together and dewatering. This process caused the water pressure at the other end of the section to compress a rubber sealing gasket, making the joint water tight. Foundations were below each section once they were lowered into place, replacing temporary foundations.


The immersed tunnel is connected to the shore by tunnels bored using tunnel boring machines (TBMs) to produce separate bores for each running line, with connections at frequent intervals for emergency use.
The scheme also included the upgrading of 63km of existing suburban railway lines, rebuilding 37 stations and building three new ones. Platforms are 225m long, the equivalent of 10 carriage lengths. The stations are based on metro style operations but are also served by heavy rail trains capable of travelling at 100km/h (60mph) with an average speed between stations of 45km/h (28mph).
The Marmaray Project provides an east-west transport corridor with a connection at Yenkapi to the north-south metro line, also currently under construction.
This amazing link commences its shuttle every day at 06:00 am. Trains run every 5 to 10 minutes during most of the day, and the last trains run all the way till midnight. Signaling and communications form an important part of the new route to meet the demands of safely transporting 75,000 passengers per hour in the future with intensive operations.
The project also had to account for Turkey’s long history of violent earthquakes, and the tunnel’s position parallel to a major fault line. Transport minister Binali Yildirim has outlined the precautions, including that the tunnel is designed handle a quake of 9.0 magnitude due to construction that allows movement.
When it was finally made, forecasts estimated that by 2015 1.5 million trips per day would be made on the new route, rising to 1.7 million by 2025. Travel times were also greatly reduced for the people of Istanbul. In the opening year, travel timesaving was 25 million hours. The opening of the new rail link increased the percentage of rail passenger journeys in the Istanbul city from the 3.6% to a massive 28%.
All that still remains to be seen. But the Marmaray Tunnel has sped up trade, commerce and tourism exponentially. This might also affect real estate in and around Istanbul. But if you’re ever in Turkey and are in the mood to quickly travel from Europe to Asia, consider the Marmaray Tunnel.

The project also had to account for Turkey’s long history of violent earthquakes, and the tunnel’s position parallel to a major fault line. Transport minister Binali Yildirim has outlined the precautions, including that the tunnel is designed handle a quake of 9.0 magnitude due to construction that allows movement.