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MoRTH: The road to digitisation

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) is implementing a number of technology led initiatives to address the issues facing internal and external stakeholders and also to improve productivity. Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road, Transport and Highways speaks exclusively with Express Computer

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What is the role of IT at the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways?
IT is being used in majority of initiatives undertaken by the ministry. Starting from vehicle registration and driving licenses, monitoring of road construction – all are through one or more IT tools. NIC has been actively involved in many of these. Most popular and widely used are Vahaan and Sarathi. State transport departments are issuing vehicle registration certificates and driving license using these applications.
Some of the new initiatives are Bidder Information Management System (BIMS), Bhoomi Rashi, INAMPRO, INFRACON, etc. The regional officers of this ministry stationed in the capital city of states are monitoring the construction and maintenance of the national highways in the country.

How IT has been used to facilitate simplification of procedures in the road transport and highways sector in India?
There are a number of applications which are helping in simplification of procedures. The best example of this is Bhoomi Rashi. It is a portal developed by MoRTH and NIC, which comprises the entire revenue data, right down to 6.4 lakh villages. The entire process flow, from submission of draft notification by the state government to its approval by the minister of state for RT&H and publication in e-Gazette, is online. The portal, created for expediting the process of publication of notifications for land acquisition, is now being fully utilised for issuing the notifications, and more than 2,824 notifications have been issued using the portal so far. Bhoomi Rashi portal has been instrumental in reducing the time taken for approval and publication of notifications pertaining to land acquisition. INFRACON and other new initiatives like GIS of land parcel and mobile app for public view of project information and road assets will further simplify the process.

Motor Vehicles (MVL)
Two applications, Vahaan and Sarathi, have been conceptualised to capture the functionalities as mandated by Central Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 as well as State Motor Vehicle Rules with customisation in the core product to suit the requirements of 36 states and UTs.

Transport Mission Mode Project – Vahaan (for vehicle registration) and Sarathi (for driving license) – has achieved 100 per cent automation of over 1100 RTOs all across the country. Almost all states and UTs are using versions of the applications developed by NIC. Almost 25 crore vehicle records and 10 crore license records are available in its central repository (National Registry). The consolidated data in State and National Registry act as the base for a large number of online citizen-centric applications and information services. As per the policy of MoRTH, online access privileges have been provided to various government and non-government agencies on the Consolidated Transport Databases:
– Police and security agencies (unlimited, free access)
– Banks, insurance companies (paid access)
– Other agencies (paid, limited data access)
– State governments applications (data access through web-service)
– Citizen (limited information through portal, SMS)

Transport
Public transportation serves as an economical and convenient mode of transportation for all classes of society, save fuel, reduce congestion and pollution. This is vital to economic development and social integration of the country. The State Road Transport Undertakings (SRTU) play an important role in public transportation and provide gainful employment. SRTUs are using latest technologies such as GPS/ GSM based vehicle tracking system, computerised reservation/ ticketing system, inter-modal fare integration, passenger information
system, etc.

Please share the latest updates on the ERP system getting designed to integrate all systems and processes across MoRTH, NHAI and NHIDCL?
eDisha is an initiative which includes design and implementation of ERP system and its integration with multiple legacy systems developed by the ministry and its implementation agencies. There have been nearly 60 applications being used by MoRTH, NHAI and NHIDCL. Fifty per cent of the applications will get either subsumed or integrated with ERP. Post implementation, this platform will provide a single source of information related with projects where it may be in physical progress, financial progress or any project related documents. The project through all of its phases, right from conceptualisation to operation and maintenance, will be managed through this platform. Various dashboards to manage the project are created as part of the project, which will help in better project management.

eDisha is being implemented through a system integrator (SI) and the releases are planned in three waves.
Wave 1: The wave 1 has been nearly completed. This includes integration of multiple Project Management Information System (PMIS) into one PMIS, its integration with Document Management System and Road Asset Management System. As part of Wave 1, one million pages of project documents have been digitised and is now being linked to PMIS for quick online access. Helpdesk is also being set up for users of eDisha.
Wave 2: The implementation of modules is currently in progress. This includes implementation of a comprehensive project system, integrated with PMIS, finance, human resource, materials management, legal case management, RTI, grievances, etc. Digitisation of two million pages of the project documents is also part of this wave. These are being progressively rolled out for all three agencies and are likely to be completed by end of July, 2019.
Wave 3: This includes implementation of business analytics and enhancement of modules implemented in Wave 1 and Wave 2, along with the mobile app. The operational acceptance of the entire system is expected to be completed by February, 2020.

Road accident deaths have been a big problem in the country. What steps have been taken using IT to reduce them?
The Road Asset Management System (RAMS) application has been developed, which has the capability to manage accident data. Going forward, it would be linked to GIS to identify black spots.

Road Safety Cell
The MoRTH has taken a number of steps to prevent such road accidents as per details mentioned below:

– The government has launched a mobile app for highway users – Sukhad Yatra 1033 – which enables highway users to report potholes and other safety hazards on national highways, including accidents.
– Rectification of identified black spots.
– Road safety audits are being carried out at all stages of development of the highway – design, construction and operation stages.
– The government has approved a National Road Safety Policy. This policy outlines various measures such as promoting awareness, establishing road safety information database, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport and enforcement of safety laws.
– The ministry has formulated a multi-pronged strategy to address the issue of road safety, based on 4 E’s – Education, Engineering (both of roads and vehicles), Enforcement and Emergency Care.
– Road safety has been made an integral part of road design at planning stage.

How many apps launched by the MoRTH are operational and what have been the benefits?
The m-Parivahan app is primarily meant for common citizens and transport operators who can access various transport related services like payment of road tax, application for various services, appointment with RTO, uploading of document, etc. It will provide a unique feature of virtual driving license and virtual vehicle registration certificate through back-end connectivity to Transport National Register, encrypted QR code and Aadhaar-based authentication – which will allow an option to replace existing physical documents/ cards with the secured, enforceable,
digital identities.

The app will also have other informative features such as accident reporting module, violation reporting module and so on. Beta version of this app has already been released for user testing. The production version is expected to be released by end of January, 2020. E-challan is an integrated enforcement solution to manage traffic violations through an Android-based mobile app and back-end web application, for use by the Transport Enforcement Wing and Traffic Police. It will help in improving transparency by connecting all stakeholders through a common system. It will also help in easing operations and efficient monitoring through digitisation of records. It will enhance the visibility of offenders, leading to better traffic management.

Please share the latest statistics on the number of FASTags in use and the money collected
A total of `43.15 lakh FASTags have been issued as on February 28, 2019 with a total of 462 places on National Highways equipped with RFID enabled FASTag infrastructure for collecting fees electronically. Fees collected through FASTags have also increased significantly since inception, with almost 27 per cent fees collected through FASTags in February, 2019.

Please share data on the realtime Project Monitoring and Information System. How many projects are tracked and what have been the benefits?
PMIS has really helped in the online monitoring of construction projects. The project’s physical progress information is being entered at PIU (Project implementation Unit) level which is further validated by the regional office. All PIUs are instructed to update monthly progress of the project by 10th of next month. Issues faced at ground level which result in delay of projects are identified right in the beginning which has helped us to intervene and avoid delays in project implementation. As part of the eDisha project, one PMIS is now running for all three entities – MoRTH, NHAI and NHIDCL. This is also integrated with DMS
where project documents are now stored. We have more than 2,500 projects at various stages
now being monitored through PMIS.

What are the benefits of INFRACON and InamPro?
INFRACON is a successful application developed for capturing data of key personnel and companies involved in highway related projects. The portal also serves as the key interface for technical evaluation of all highway related tenders of major government organisations. As the portal is now extensively being used by all government agencies, it has been felt to add more types of projects in the same and some major enhancements are required to make it the principle technical evaluation platform for all highway projects in India. During the last one year, we have incorporated many new features in the portal and many other features are still required to be developed.

Following technical proposal has been prepared outlining the broad requirements and technical solution for the said requirements.

InamPro+
In the infrastructure industry, where our country is spending a huge proportion of the budget, various initiatives have been taken up for quicker delivery of services to avoid time and cost over-runs. Since these projects would be executed on ground by private construction agencies through procurement of material/equipment/services from the market, it was felt expedient to ease procurement thereof and made it as easy as possible and for this purpose, the power of IT has been harnessed, as has been done in respect of e-commerce in many other sectors. A comprehensive mechanism for market price discovery and its stabilisation for essential resources like materials, equipment and services have been evolved. The objective is to ensure competitiveness and reflect uniformity/consistency across varying geographical regions by having a real-time information platform where resources, location, availability and prices can be obtained for fast decision making by both government and infrastructure developers
almost on a similar manner as e-NAM does.

In this perspective, InamPro+, a platform for infrastructure and material suppliers, has been developed by the MoRTH. It is an ‘All under One’ store for procurement/listing of essential construction and infrastructure material, machinery and services.

Situation before the initiative
In the last decade, cement industry, the backbone for infrastructure development, was affected by cartelisation despite surplus production capacity. Ceiling price mechanism was implemented by InamPro+ by which sellers can sell cement at prices fixed for three years with permitted yearly escalation of maximum 10 per cent. Such price certainty has helped in checking cost escalations and ensuring timely availability. With data points on real market prices at hand, one can easily plan and schedule projects and ensure timely completion.

In addition, the information about appropriate market price of upcoming new technologies was not available which led to continuation of age old techniques for decades, resulting into cost and time over-runs. The evolution of InamPro+ has turned to be a game changer by disclosing price and availability of materials and equipment, thus playing a vital role in analysing prices for cost estimation of public projects. The one and only mode available earlier for such estimation was PWD Schedule of Rates (SOR) which never got updated for years because of the herculean efforts required to collect market data for numerous items every year.

In this backdrop, InamPro+ platform provides real-time information on such material, equipment, services to any user via the digital mode on the click of a button. MSMEs, start-ups and other businesses which may provide same products at lower cost, but could not access the market for want of marketing budgets or digital presence, can make use of InamPro+ portal for promoting their products without any cost. Thus, it also acts as a kind of electronic marketplace.

The number of products and suppliers have rapidly increased from 136 and 36 at the time of launch to 10824 and 273 respectively and is capable of scaling up for wide variety of services and suppliers. Infact, the idea of GeM originated from the study of this portal.

The benefits from InamPro+ have been many. Cement being the main material which got transacted over the platform so far, the prices fixed have been ` 40 to ` 80 per bag, lesser than the price fixed by state governments in their SORs. Considering average savings of ` 50 per bag, the total committed stock of 27 million tonne on INAM-Pro+ is likely to result into savings of at least 2,700 crore from the
cement industry.

The INAM-Pro+ platform is currently being used by more than 1,200 business houses of India. More than 270 sellers have listed about 1,000 products till February 2018 in a short span of nine months since its launch in June, 2017. At present, more than 950 buyers have registered themselves on the platform. InamPro+ has been quite instrumental in encouraging the online transaction to reap the benefit of Input Tax Credit in the post-GST scenario.

Adaptability
The platform is developed on the lines of existing e-Commerce portals being in vogue these days but with the uniqueness that the B to B transactions getting facilitated by Government. User Interface is a very critical factor in adoption of any e-Commerce website. The Buyers find the Sellers more trustworthy and Sellers become sure of the Buyers while transacting through INAM-Pro+ being facilitated/backed by Government. A series of instructional videos for buyers and sellers have been uploaded on YouTube channel about the operation of the platform.

Schedule of Rates (SOR) is a document used by Govt. engineers throughout the country for price discovery/cost estimation of public projects. These SORs do not get updated every year because of high physical input in market surveys and lack of administrative capacities. State PWDs have started using INAM-Pro+ for updating SORs of their department. They do so by inviting the local material and equipment sellers to list their products on INAM-Pro+ platform for conducting real time transactions. INAM-Pro+ thus has started helping Engineers to update Prices in SOR every year without going for extensive market survey physically. Such efficient and easy method for updating SORs is bound to save taxpayers from faulty cost estimation of the projects, thereby saving money and time.

What kind of IT interventions have been taken for the State Road Transport Undertakings (SRTU) such as GPS, GSM, etc?
The ministry has a scheme namely “Strengthening ITS in Public Transport System” to provide financial assistance to state governments for use of latest technologies such as GPS/ GSM based vehicle tracking system, computerised reservation/ ticketing system, inter-modal fare integration, passenger information system, etc for services covering inter-city and mofussil areas and to provide financial assistance for preparation of total mobility plan for the entire state. The ministry provides one-time financial assistance to the tune of 50 per cent of the project cost to the states and UTs for IT related projects. Transport for London has partnered with the ministry for development of the sector.

What is the kind of IT usage programmes suggested by them?
To create a sustainable and effective public road transport ecosystem in the country, an MoU has been signed between this Ministry and with the ‘Transport for London’ (TFL). The ‘Transport for London’ is a statutory Body established under the Greater London Authority Act, 1999, and is tasked with the delivery of mobility in London. The MoU will help to promote digital transaction and induction of high capacity diesel/ electric vehicles in India.

With which countries is the ministry actively engaged for the development of the road, port and shipping sector? Please discuss the technology transfer?
This ministry in the recent past had taken major initiatives for international cooperation. Details of MOUs signed in past few years are :
Between India and Nepal – construction of new bridge over river Mechi.
Between India and UAE for promoting increased investment in infrastructure development and logistics efficiency.
Motor Vehicles Agreement between India and Afghanistan for enhanced regional connectivity via land route.
New bus service on Kolkata – Dhaka route.


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