In furtherance to its commitment to build quality roads, which played a major role in CM Nitish Kumar's retaining power with a thumping majority, the Bihar government is all set to adopt path-breaking cellular phone technology for monitoring timely completion of the projects.
Come January 24, the Bihar State Road Development Corporation (BSRDC) under the Road Construction Department (RCD) will start using "Android phones" to help executive engineers keep an eye on road construction work from district headquarters, RCD Secretary Pratya Amrit told PTI.
The RCD Secretary will himself do so from his office in Patna.
Upwardly mobile Bihar will be the first state to test the latest technology, which will be used to ensure time-bound completion of road projects, the department sources said.
In the first phase, the phones would be given to eight executive/assistant engineers for inspection of three state highways -- 68, 69 and 70 -- in Naxal-hit Gaya and Aurangabad, which are being constructed or augmented with an Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan, the RCD Secretary added.
The three projects have been chosen as they were running behind time and needed immediate effective steps to check the slippage.
The latest mobile operating system supports all Google applications in 3G mobile phones.
Pioneering work in the road sector is considered as a major reason for the landslide victory of the JD(U)-BJP coalition government in the recent Bihar Assembly elections.
Since 2006-07, Bihar has constructed 23,606 km of roads, besides augmentation and repair of 1,657 km of national highways, official sources said.
Giving details on the usage of the phones, the RCD Secretary said an assistant or executive engineer will visit construction sites every two days to take pictures of under-construction roads and upload them on the RCD site.
Photos taken using these phones would verify that the pictures have actually been taken at the site of the construction work.
Furthermore, to ensure double-compliance, the RCD Secretary will monitor the location of the engineers using Google Maps, another application available on the phone.
Once the government is convinced of the usefulness of the technology, all 200 engineers in-charge of road projects under the RCD would be given these phones, Amrit said.
"By April, the experiment will be replicated in the entire department to complete the road projects on time," he added.
The RCD Secretary noted that the measure does not entail much expenditure.
"We only have to purchase eight Android-enabled sets now. Such a set comes for less than Rs 10,000. Phone bills with the technology will only go up by Rs 900 for an engineer," said the Secretary.
"When the bulk order is placed in April, a phone set will cost even less," he added.
The ADB has given Bihar Rs 1,971 crore for the first phase of road projects, covering 820 km. Construction of these roads started in 2008-09 and has to be completed by 2011-12.
The RCD Secretary said it was only because of timely completion of most projects by Bihar that the ADB agreed to give a second phase loan of over Rs 1,500 crore, toward 90 per cent of the overall cost of road construction or expansion. The state government has to bear the remaining 10 per cent of the project cost.