What are the key factors for the success of an undergrounding plan?

An undergrounding plan is a complex multi - year project which involves collaboration and coordination between the Distribution Services Operator (DSO) and multiple stakeholders and agencies for its successful implementation. Therefore, effective project management is the most important success factor for ensuring timely execution, within budget and to a high quality standard.

Undergrounding involves the digging and repair of roads and pavements, as well as disruptions to the public transportation system during the construction phase. There could be interference with the services provided by other public utilities such as telecom, cable, gas and water works, whether planned or accidental; or a need for rerouting. Care has to be taken that all these are minimized to the extent possible through careful planning and effective / timely communication with the public and the affected agencies. Problems that inevitably arise during the construction must be solved effectively.

Close collaboration between the DSO and the Municipality or Urban Local Body is critical. The latter provides facilities during construction, does complementary civil work and acts as bridge to other utilities such as water works and telecom, besides providing part funding.

The project plan needs to be carefully aligned with the city masterplan and every effort made to obtain the buy-in of all stakeholders and the community at large both before beginning implementation as well as throughout the execution.

And last but not the least, adequate funding right through to project completion must be ensured beforehand.