Making Inroads

Indian roads are headed to a high tech future as IT makes deeper inroads into
one of the most ambitious infrastructure initiatives in the country-the
National Highways (NHs).

The average value of a contract given out by the National Highways Authority
of India (the organization responsible for the development, maintenance and
management of NHs) is around Rs 200 crores, and there are around 96 projects
already underway. Given the fact that these projects are spread across the
country and are of high economic import, prioritizing the work for upgradation
and maintenance cannot be left to be arbitrarily decided.

So, how will NHAI decide if it should take up the ‘XYZ’ stretch of road
before the ‘ABC’ stretch? Well, in the not very distant future it will be
assisted by the GIS-based Road Information System (RIS) for prioritizing the
maintenance and upgradation of 4-laned NHs. Covering around 5,500 kms of the
Golden Quadrilateral, RIS is expected to be available on the Web by September

According to Atul Kumar, chief GM, NHAI, the system will have complete
information on the condition of the highways, categorized under 10 modules.
These include aspects like assets, pavements, bridges, environment, traffic,
accidents, performance, toll, etc. It will be linked to the Highway Development
and Management Model-HDM-IV software (used by the World Bank for investigating
choices in investing in road transport infrastructure), in order to determine
the priorities. Prioritization can be done in terms of the condition of the
stretches as well as from the cost point of view, instead of taking them up on
an adhoc basis. This will mean that the road stretches that are most affected
will be taken up first.

The system will also help in giving NHAI time delay studies: How much time
was taken in commuting from one place to the other before the stretch was 4
lane, after it was 4 lane, after the deterioration of the condition of the 4
lane one year down the line and after upgradation to 6 or 8 lanes?

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