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Impact of Covid-19 on the construction industry

The entire world, including India, has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the construction industry. In 2020–2021, the construction sector in India became the second-largest employer, recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI), and the third-largest market internationally.

The COVID-19 epidemic hit the entire world in March 2020, affecting all industries in India, including the construction sector. COVID-19 brought about a major shock to the day-to-day life of the citizens of India, resulting in income loss, fear of infection, and food scarcity, which were particularly challenging for migrant workers. Temporary closures in certain industries also caused significant income losses.

Resuming construction activities became extremely challenging, leading to a severe crisis in the sector.

Due to lockdown measures, experts in the construction business, such as civil engineers, architects, and contractors, were unable to resume work. The pandemic also impacted the availability of human resources, with the need for more local labor to replace migrant construction workers who had to return to their home regions.

The construction industry in India employs over 51 million people, including skilled and unskilled workers as well as professionals. The pandemic had adverse impacts on the construction industry, including site shutdowns, project delays, supply chain challenges, the implementation of new health and safety standards, declining investments, material shortages, decreased demand for construction work, lower productivity, and a decline in foreign investment.

However, COVID-19 has also led to unexpected positive impacts in the construction industry. Many industries have fully embraced virtualization under the “new norm.” Work is predominantly done online, eliminating the need for physical presence, and teams meet digitally. However, not all construction businesses have transitioned smoothly to this new way of working. Some industries that had already embraced virtual work made the shift seamlessly, while others had to cease or shut down operations.

Post-COVID-19, the construction industry has increased the use of prefabricated structures and adaptive reuse of existing structures on-site. An efficient way to monitor and enforce requirements has emerged through the use of AI-powered automatic video surveillance, a relatively new technology. Some industries are also adopting paperless techniques, green building materials, and practices. COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of construction, including areas such as cybersecurity, smarter project management, and improved health and safety processes.

Written by
Dr. Kiran Devi,
Assistant Professor,
Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Technology,
SGT University Gurugram