Raj Kumar Singh, Director,(Urban Transport), Ministry of Urban Development is on a five-year deputation to MoUD from IIT Roorkee. He talks on various ITS initiatives of the Minsitry.
What initiatives is the Ministry of Urban Development taking for implementing ITS in India?
We have already started one project at Mysore City. We are studying that. Another project is being carried out by IIT Madras. The transport authorities there have put ITS applications on about 250 buses and are studying the results. For that, we are taking the help of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) as Japan is interested in promoting ITS in India. They have selected Hyderabad ring road for implementation of ITS projects and will soon take up about ten more cities to study how best ITS can be provided in those cities.
Who makes the first move ? the Ministry or the State?
It is both ways actually. Most of the time, we try to tell all the states to come forward with their plans. Wherever possible, we will certainly help. We have an understanding with Japan too. They have posted one ITS expert in our ministry for one year since September 2012. He is also providing some help and guidance in the Ministry as far as ITS is concerned. We are trying to extend his stay for one more year. He will be assisting us in policy-making and implementing of our ITS related issues. Also, wherever we are implementing ITS, he will be contributing with his expertise. Japan has done a lot in ITS.
Why choose Mysore for a study on ITS?
That happened before I joined Ministry so I would not be able to answer that specifically but there are certain pioneer cities which take a lot of interest in urban transportation and urban development. So of course, who is taking interest will always be preferred over someone who will feel forced to do it because it is difficult to force somebody to go in a particular direction. If somebody is already taking the initiative, we will work as a catalyst in the process. For better coordination, we promote and provide UMTA (Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority) type of an organisation at every city and region and at the state level as well.
UMTA is yet to make its mark.
It is the starting phase now. It will be successful. It is a very good model which has worked in a few cities and even the world. Hyderabad, Chennai and almost 18 cities have formulated UMTA one way or the other. It may not be 100% successful but then, it is the beginning. Let me tell you, the direction is correct. It will take some time because we are very ? very new in urban transport. It is only since the last 15 years that something has been done in ITS to make public transport organised.
Owing to many reasons, ITS has not functioned to its full credentials in India. What, from the ministries? point of view, are the challenges ITS faces in India?
Initially, the biggest challenges were that we are not so techno savvy. There are issues in implementation. I have seen some very effective ITS work at Seoul. So, may be at a later date if not immediately now, ITS will remove a lot of problems from the cities. We have had enforcement issues, our policy needs to be proper. But we are working towards centralising ITS — you will not be very exposed and you will be able to control too.
In order to understand the technologies and their customisation & utilisation, do you feel the Ministry must ensure orientation courses for its staff?
It is being done. Our secretary in particular and our ministry in general are giving tremendous emphasis on capacity building. We sponsor candidates from states for leadership programmes to foreign and national universities like CEPT. We ourselves form many study groups at various seminars. We have made IUT (Institute of Urban Transport) responsible. So that capacity building is in progress now. We are moving forward everywhere and we are encouraging all to use ITS.