On 31 May 2020, Nepal Geotechnical Society successfully organized a webinar on “Geotechnical Engineering in Transport Infrastructure Plan and Policy.” Joined online by nearly 156 (at the max) and viewed on Facebook live by 67 (at the max) simultaneously, it was an overwhelmingly participated webinar, and it has surely encouraged us for doing similar programs in the days ahead too.

The program started slightly behind the schedule, and it was primarily because there was an issue with the online platform (ZoomMeetings-NREN) and we were waiting for the problem to be sorted out. Program MC Er. Kalpana Adhikari (a government engineer working at the Department of Roads and currently involved in the Nagdhunga Tunnel Construction Project from the owner’s side) started the program with her self introduction as well as a brief introduction of Nepal Geotechnical Society (NGS) targeting those participants who were new to NGS. She also briefly outlined the program format/flow and then invited NGS President Prof. Netra Prakash Bhandary to welcome the program participants, speakers, and panelists.

After the President’s welcome address, the key speakers of the program were invited to deliver their talks. The first key speaker, Er. Tulasi Prasad Sitaula (Former Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, and Former Director-General of the Department of Roads) spoke about “Transport Infrastructures in Nepal: Plans and Policies” and presented a very comprehensive plan of transport infrastructure development in the country. The second key speaker, Dr. Marinos Skempas (Senior Geotechnical and Highway Consultant at World Bank) spoke about “Geotechnical Engineering in Transport Infrastructure – Case histories and Remedial Measures” and presented a very brilliant picture of roadside geohazards and their preventive measures. In the first two slides, Dr. Skempas was briefly assisted by Er. Masatsugu Takamatsu, a disaster risk management specialist of the World Bank in the South Asia Region, who participated in the program from World Bank headquarters in the USA.

In the second stage, NGS President Prof. Netra Prakash Bhandary started a panel discussion as the moderator and invited the panelists: Er. Tuk Lal Adhikari (Managing Director ITECO, President SCAEF, Past President Nepal Geotechnical Society), Dr. Indra Prasad Acharya (Vice President, Nepal Geotechnical Society; Coordinator, Master Program in Geotechnical Engineering, IoE Pulchowk Campus, Tribhuvan University), Er. Naresh Man Shakya (Senior Divisional Engineer, Bridge Section, Department of Roads), and Er. Kamal Jaishi (Former Senior Divisional Engineer at Department of Local Infrastructure Development and Agricultural Roads). Each panelist was asked to speak on the program theme for about 5-7 minutes. Er. Adhikari spoke about the prevalent issues of geotechnical engineering in transport infrastructure development including landslides and related problems. Dr. Indra Prasad Acharya spoke about issues related to academic aspects of geotechnical engineering in transport infrastructures. Er. Naresh Man Shakya spoke about prevalent problems in adopting geotechnical engineering in government plans and policies especially in the field of transport infrastructures. Finally, Er. Kamal Jaishi spoke about the status of rural road-building in Nepal and geotechnical problem faced by government officials.

Then, the moderator opened the panel for questions from the audience. There was a tremendous flow of questions in the message box, but because of limited time, it was not possible to take all questions, but some of the important questions were taken and answered by the respective speakers and panelists. The program was already behind the schedule, so the discussion continued for only about 30 minutes. Most of the questions were focused on the technical issue of road building and geohazards. Unanswered questions will be appropriately addressed and will be put for everyone’s reference on the society Facebook page as well as on the website.

Finally, in the end, the program was formally closed by Er. Shiva Prasad Nepal, a senior executive member of the society and Deputy Director-General of the Department of Roads by delivering the wrap-up remarks.

Nepal Geotechnical Society family and the executive committee again express their sincere appreciation to all participants, the two key speakers, and the four panelists. Thank you!

Recorded online video of the program is here: Online Video

Program reference: