Thursday , 20 June 2019

Meeting the ITS challenge in Delhi

Despite being the nation’s capital, Delhi does not seem to have kept pace with time as far as technology for better traffic management is concerned. Just 36 cameras at only nine out of a total of 760 intersections, a few bollards, failing traffic signals, lack of electricity back-up to keep these signals running, a few flyovers and a little bit of traffic furniture do not speak much on the latest traffic technology in Delhi. And though Delhi Metro has proved to be a boon for the city, the road infrastructure seems to have lagged behind when compared with many smaller cities. Delhi cannot even boast of e-challans that have been adopted in Bangalore and will soon find their way in Pune and Bhopal.

The city is in dire need of upgraded technology. Rather, it is in need of basic technology itself. As with the Commonwealth Games, what worked in its favour was not the technology, but the strict regulation of a heavy fine and even imprisonment for violation of traffic rules. Such measures don’t last, nor can they be sustained.

It isn’t that the traffic police hasn’t tried to bring some sense into the madness of traffic on the roads. It has. But its efforts haven’t showed results – not yet at least. It has been floating tenders since 2009 but then, the result has not been encouraging at all to say the least. In fact, the process of floating the tender and the tender itself have come under scrutiny of late.

A tender was floated inviting bids for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in 2009 by the then JCP (Traffic) of Delhi, S P Srivastava. But it was quashed without any reason being given to the transport industry, report many companies which are into providing transport solutions. Commonwealth Games saw some sort of method in traffic management but ITS had a scanty presence there and cannot be credited for it.

Realising the urgent need for ITS solutions in a city that faces an acute travel problem, thanks to over 70 lakh private vehicles it is home to, Delhi Traffic Police decided to float tenders for ITS, again. Now this is where the problem begins instead of ending. For, the entire exercise has come in for severe criticism by the transport industry. While at the first attempt in 2009, such tenders had hardly attracted any company, this time the companies seem to have been kept at bay. For, only two companies finally went in for the bid while a third company, many experts claim, might just have been included in the eleventh hour to complete the quorum lest the effort falls flat again. The tender, it is being claimed, has failed even before the process actually began.

Delhi Traffic Police had come out with Expression of Interest (EOI) for ITS in 2008 – and that was for CWG. But since it got very delayed, the EOI never moved ahead to the pre bid stage.

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“Ideally, every traffic intersection and major roads must be covered by the ITS. My understanding says ITS will have surveillance cameras, speed cameras, VMS, traffic monitoring centre, quality traffic signals, management reports, fault monitoring system and other required components for traffic management in the city.”

—  Satyendra Garg, JCP (Traffic),  Delhi

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After the failure of tender attempt in 2009, when Delhi Traffic Police issued an open tender notification on March 6, 2010, over 20 giants, including MNCs, showed interest and responded. This was followed by a presentation by the Police on March 15, 2010 in which it explained what it expected from the tenders. March 22 was the time for bid submission which was interestingly extended to May 31, 2010. But owing to lack of response, it was again extended to June 21, 2010. Since no company participated in it, it was cancelled.

Delhi Police issued a re-notification under a committee headed by Special Commissioner (Traffic), Delhi, Ajay Chaddha. At the pre bid meeting this time, held on August 18, 2010, apart from the Indian representation, at least 15 senior officers from the top management of companies from various countries were present. The 21 companies that attended it included Siemens, HCL, TCS, Wipro, Mahindra Satyam, Telvent, Peak, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), CMS, L&T, Keltron and ECIL. This time, an entry fee of `25000 was made mandatory by the Traffic Police as a requirement for pre bid so that “only serious bidders” could enter the fray. The tenders were to be submitted on September 28, 2010. Only two bids came – from Aster Technologies and Vyam Technologies. All the big companies stayed away. Neither home-grown giants like L&T and Keltron (which had even got associated with a foreign company for the same), nor tried and tested MNCs like Siemens and Peak showed any inclination to go in for the bid. Wide gaps in the entire process became evident at this stage

On why did Delhi Police’s tenders not elicit a response, Satyendra Garg, JCP (Traffic) told TrafficInfraTech, “We got three bids for ITS this time. One was technically disqualified. So now, two bids remain and they are in an advanced stage of consideration. I am not sure whether it will fructify or not but there is a possibility that one of the two can be awarded the contract. And once it is awarded, the gestation period is about one and a half years.”

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