To ensure more transparency, Modi govt gives INFRACON booster shot to road projects

By: | Updated: July 25, 2016 7:33 AM

With the impetus of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on using technology to ensure transparency and improve efficiency, the government departments are taking steps for creating digital infrastructure for delivering government-to-citizen (G2C) and government-to-business (G2B) services digitally.

INFRACON has not only helped in bringing different stakeholders on one platform, it has also streamlined the tedious job of evaluation which earlier used to take several months.INFRACON has not only helped in bringing different stakeholders on one platform, it has also streamlined the tedious job of evaluation which earlier used to take several months.

With the impetus of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on using technology to ensure transparency and improve efficiency, the government departments are taking steps for creating digital infrastructure for delivering government-to-citizen (G2C) and government-to-business (G2B) services digitally. Recently, the ministry of road transport and highways headed by Union minister Nitin Gadkari launched an online portal—INFRACON, to ensure transparency and efficiency in its infrastructure development programmes.

According to ministry officials, the portal that seeks to connect consultants and individual specialists for government projects has been made mandatory for hiring consultants in the projects of ministry, National Highways Authority Of India (NHAI), National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL), Indian Academy of Highway Engineers (IAHE) and state agencies working on national highway projects. “We believe that this would lead to reduction in paper work during bid submission and evaluation, and bring in transparency and accountability in the process. It will also substantially reduce time taken for evaluating the previous works of a particular company or individual specialist,” Sanjay Jaju, director, NHIDCL, ministry of road transport & highways, told FE.

Basically, the concerned ministry undertakes a significant amount of project preparation and supervision work. For them a detailed and quality project report is central to any good project; it is also a key requirement before they bid the project out. The entire activity of preparing a detailed project report (DPR) is outsourced to external consultancy firms and consultants. These consultants are primarily highway engineers, bridge engineers, safety engineers, quantity surveyor etc. Their selection is done on a qualitative basis in which 80% weightage is given to technical expertise and 20% to financial capability. Technical aspects that include qualifications and number of years and kind of experience is very subjective and broadly it is based on individual or a firm’s expertise. This loophole has been exploited in the past as people knew that the evaluation process takes a lot of time and was highly subjective; in short, it was seldom done in a systematic manner.

“There is limited availability of good quality skilled resources in the country. There is no common place where one can find all the professionals needed for infrastructure project at one place,” remarks Jaju. He elaborates: “There were several complaints that people were fudging their bio-data. Today you are a highway engineer, tomorrow you can become a tunnel expert, day after tomorrow you become a different specialist. People knew that the evaluation process takes a lot of time and it is not done in a systematic manner. So we decided to build a national platform on which we could bring all consultancy firms and individual consultants. This is how INFRACON was born.”

Interestingly, in order to attract people and firms to this portal, the government mulled over questions such as why would a consultant be interested to bring information to this portal. And, they decided to put projects on this portal for bidding. Now organisations like NHIDCL, NHAI, IAHE and the ministry bid out consultancy, supervision, DPR preparation projects through this portal. Since most of these projects are bid by a team, the portal provides an opportunity for individual specialists and consultancy firm to team-up. An individual specialist from any part of the country or a consultancy firm who may not know each other can form a team for bidding for the projects.

Jaju says, “This opens up a huge window of opportunity for all those who would like to be recognised as a key person. Somebody is a civil engineer in Darbhanga district of Bihar, but nobody knows. But this portal gives an opportunity to that person to put out information in public domain and get noticed. Over a period of time, this will disallow the doctoring of data which has been happening till now.”

INFRACON has not only helped in bringing different stakeholders on one platform, it has also streamlined the tedious job of evaluation which earlier used to take several months. The system has been designed in such a way that the ministry is now able to get online evaluation done by click of few buttons. So far more than 3,000 consultants and over 500 consultancy firms have been registered. Close to 250 projects have been bid out through this portal. In fact, NHIDCL have completed the evaluation of more than 10 projects through the portal itself. It expects that over a period of time this would become a competency national database for individuals, consultants and firms.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE and NSE and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Switch to Hindi Edition