In the face of the mega road work scam that flourished despite the use of a software that could monitor the work on a real time basis, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is now thinking of junking the live works system in favour of a simpler geo tagging mechanism to tag roads undergoing repairs.
Geo tagging of roads refers to using location-specific information such as geographical coordinates to photos of roads along with various details before and after repair work is carried out. This can help the BMC avoid duplication of road repairs before the life of the road expires and also to closely monitor the work. The BMC now plans to geo tag all the upcoming works that are to be tendered out.
Officials said that with the implementation of geo-tagging technology, the civic body will be able to find out if a road has been excavated enough, before repairing it. One of the civic officials said that if a road is not taken up for repair, we will tag the existing one. Then, while it is being excavated, the server will again geo-tag the road depth and this is how the civic body will know about the required depth.
Typically, contractors during road repairs skim public funds by excavating less than the required amount before repairs. Also, the same stretch of road is often given out for repairs even before the life of the road expires.
Civic chief, Ajoy Mehta said, “We need a new technology for better execution of work and we are looking at geo-tagging our works.”
But, given the contractor-official lobby in road works, questions remain on whether any technology can help the BMC bring transparency.
The live works system was introduced with a similar motive but did not prove to be useful in detecting wrongdoing. In live works, there were censors fitted in various contractors’ vehicles and connected to the system which allowed the civic officials to identify whether the material had been picked from the location specified in the tenders and the system also revealed the temperature of the material that was laid out during road construction. Despite this, the recent road scam probe showed that roads being monitored through this system also had substandard material.
The geo tagging of roads will be monitored by civic engineers solely without the interference of third party auditors. The system is likely to take off from October.