TODAY -

Development of computerised / centralised road database for Manipur State

Dr. Huidrom Lokeshwor Singh *

 A view of a Road in Tamei and Tousem Sub Division in Tamenglong District
A view of a Road in Tamei and Tousem Sub Division in Tamenglong District :: Pix - Ibomcha Yumnam



Manipur's road networks spreading over 20,002.645 kilometres in length (Basic Road Statistics of India, March 2016) is comprised of National Highways, North Eastern Council, Border Road Task Force, Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana and Local Governing Body Roads, out of which, Public Works Department (PWD) Manipur is having more than 10222 km road networks in both hills and valleys of Manipur state, spreading across sixteen administrative districts covering an area of 22,327 square kilometres.

Out of 10222 km road length, 4302 km are surfaced with WBM (729 km) and BT / CC (3573 km) while remaining 5920 km are unsurfaced. All these roads are needed to be maintained, managed and upgraded from time to time using scientific approaches for providing social & economic benefits to the citizens of Manipur and other road users. As such, there is a requirement for developing a sustainable Road Asset Management System (RAMS) in Manipur for speedy, efficient and effective management of road assets.

The RAMS is a strategic and systematic process of maintaining, upgrading, and operating road assets effectively & efficiently. The RAMS will improve planning, maintenance and management of both capital and maintenance (Plan and No-Plan) budget being received by Manipur from various sources. Some of the specific tasks required for developing RAMS include the following (https://india.smartcitiescouncil.com/article/see-how-nhai-smartly-managing-its-road-assets):

i. Data collection for GIS, road inventory, condition, pavement strength, traffic and other data using automated, semi-automated and manual procedures;
ii. Developing of data collection plan that allowed RAMS to fully upgrade current data required for planning, programming and budgeting of road works;
iii. Upgrading RAMS hardware and software;
iv. Developing analytical tools which allow the RAMS data to support the formation of plans and programmes for road network preservation and development;
v. Institutional framework for RAMS to ensure its sustainability and development over the long term;
vi. Recommendation of strategy for commercial use of relevant parts of RAMS as a Traveller/Tourist Information System.

Among them, the foremost requirement is the collection of accurate and reliable data from the field using scientific approaches and creation of a computerized / centralized / single road database of requisite parameters such as GIS, road inventory, pavement condition, pavement strength, traffic and other data etc. But the purpose / usefulness of those data to be collected should be decided / formulated first based on the current local conditions and requirements of Manipur roads. It shouldn't be just for a fashion.

For instance, collection of cracks depths using road profilers and pavement strength evaluation using Falling Weight Deflectomers for the existing Manipur roads will not be a useful task. These tasks will be useful when Manipur roads have reached the quality levels of National Highways / Expressways of developed cities / countries. According to the Indian guidelines / manuals (MORTH, Indian Roads Congress & National Rural Road Development Agency), location & category of roads, carriageway width, formation width, road land width, surface type, road type, terrain type, cross-drainage structure type and its dimensions are some parameters of road asset inventory database whose inspection is essential for every 100m or 1km sections while location and size of defects, potholes, cracks, rutting /depressions, ravelling, edge breaks, patches, pavement failure and shoulder drop off are some parameters of pavement condition database whose assessment is essential for every 100m or 1km sections.

1. Current Status of Road Asset Management Systems (RAMS) in India

The effectiveness of RAMS of any organization / department will be governed by the accuracy and reliability of these input parameters (database) and prior work experiences in the local conditions. Since RAMS is an imported concept from the developed countries, there is a need for doing lots of research / homework in Manipur conditions for its sustainability. In India, few organisations having adequate funds for roads development, maintenance and management like NHAI has attempted to develop RAMS for National Highways as a part of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's Digital India Initiative, and the NHAI has awarded a World Bank funded project to M/s HIMS Limited, New Zealand in joint venture with M/s SATRA Infrastructure Management Services Pvt. Ltd, India for the development of Road Asset Management System (RAMS) for the entire National Highways along with the collection of requisite data.

For this project, road survey vehicle equipped with three cameras including pavement view, 15 advanced Lasers and GPS connected to Gagan satellite has been imported from ROMDAS, New Zealand for data collection of road assets, condition of the pavements and traffic through use of laser technology. As per the press release note dated 15 May 2015 available in http://www.bjp.org/media-resources/press-releases/press-shri-nitin-gadkari-on-integrated-data-collection-system#, the data collection over the pilot network of 3,000 km has been commenced from Nagpur on 5 May 2015 on trial basis. While these efforts are laudable, they are far from real life field solutions because of high expenditure and use of equipment / imported solutions that essentially not designed for Indian conditions.

For small states like Manipur having limited funds for roads development, maintenance and management, we need to learn and experience a lot on the existing data (both accuracy and reliability) that has been collected by various agencies across India and the current status of RAMS so developed by various states / organisations like Mizoram, Bihar, Odisha & NHAI etc. It may also be useful to see the quality of the road survey data collected by imported network survey vehicles and laser profilers in the state of Manipur during year 2010 as a part of MORTH sponsored project "Development of GIS based National Highways Information System".

This will help in judiciously utilization of available funds of Govt. of Manipur. Besides, this will help in taking appropriate decisions on various strategies / programmes / plans that has to be adopted / developed first before the development of RAMS. Some of the important tasks / strategies / programmes that has been adopted / developed first by various organisations / states in India before the actual development of RAMS are listed below: -

i. Development of centralized / computerised / single road database of requisite parameters / data for Manipur state (RED / MSRRDA Manipur might have this / similar database today)
ii. Formulation of State policy on road development, maintenance and management for Manipur state (RED / MSRRDA Manipur might have this / similar policy today)
iii. Development of GIS based Road Information System for Manipur state (RED / MSRRDA Manipur might have this / similar information system today)
iv. Development of Road Asset Management System for Manipur state

From the above list, it could be seen that RED / MSRRDA Manipur have done lots of research / homework / assignments since its inception under PMGSY programme for the development, maintenance and management of good quality PMGSY road networks in Manipur. Such research / homework / assignments / strategies / technology interventions are required before the actual development of RAMS which is an analytical tool under testing phase for developing countries like India.

2. Indigenous Solutions for Development of Computerised Road Database for Manipur state

For development of a computerized / centralized / single road database of requisite parameters such as GIS, road inventory, pavement condition, pavement strength, traffic and other data etc., the first and foremost requirement is the collection of these requisite parameters from the field using scientific approaches and analysis / processing of the collected data for obtaining the computerized database. In current practices, this is done using various tools / equipment available in the market.

Some are imported from abroad while some are indigenous products / solutions designed as per Indian local conditions. The disadvantageous of using imported dedicated survey vehicles in Manipur include high-cost, non-portability and unreliability at difficult terrain and harsh environmental conditions. Some of the indigenous solutions available already in the market for the collection of road survey data and development of centralized road database include the following: -

i. BETQ designed Portable Automated Road Survey System (PARSS-2017)
PARSS-2017 is a proprietary integrated road data collection and data processing system developed indigenously by BETQ Data Analytics Pvt. Ltd., India, a research driven startup company recognized / certified already by Govt. of India under Startup India. PARSS has been developed through doctoral level research and it has been designed to be very portable, easily detachable, plug & play / recording type, modular system with its automated / semi-automated data processing software. At present, PARSS-2017 has two video imaging modules. First one is Asset view Video System for collecting road asset inventory data while the other is Pavement View Video System for collecting pavement condition data and these modules can be mounted on various vehicles (http://www.betqdata.com/products).

ii. IIT-Kharagpur designed In-vehicle Automated Falling Weight Deflectometer
In-vehicle automated falling weight deflectometer is an equipment to provide non-destructive evaluation of strength of highway and airfield pavements. It is also useful for testing of bridges and other like applications. The device is simple and easy to handle/use and also cost effective (http://www1.iitkgp.ac.in/academics/tech_details.php?slno=75).

iii. CRRI designed Fifth Wheel Bump Integrators / Car Axle Mounted Bump Integrators
Bump Integrators are response type road roughness measurement equipment / road profilers developed indigenously by CSIR-Central Road Research Institute, New Delhi. It gives the road roughness measurement in terms of UI (Unevenness Index), which can be further convertible into IRI (International Roughness Index) (http://www.crridom.gov.in/content/bump-integrator).

The advantages of using such indigenous solutions in Manipur state include low-cost, portability, easy to use and its reliability at difficult terrain and harsh environmental conditions as they are designed and developed based on the local conditions. Moreover, Manipur roads are constructed using Indian guidelines (IRC / MORTH / BIS) based on the local conditions.

The adoption of tools / equipment for road & traffic data surveying should not be restricted to imported items only whose guidelines differ from Indian existing guidelines. It should also encourage the use / adoption of indigenous products / solutions designed and developed based on Indian local conditions. Since the indigenous solutions / products are developed and manufactured by our homegrown companies, the adoption of these solutions by professionals / organisations like PWD Manipur will enable to create more jobs and wealth for Manipur state.


* Dr. Huidrom Lokeshwor Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The author can be reached at hlokeshwor(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on September 10, 2018.



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