India is building its own Google maps Everything you need to know
Time and time again we have seen newly constructed roads dug out to include new pipelines. One of the reasons for this is the lack of centralized information that can guide these projects so that we can include the pipelines when the roads are built to begin with. Another common problem is a delay in centralized infrastructure projects, in addition to road construction. The Indian government has come up with a new digital tool to address these issues, which is informally called “India’s Google Maps Infrastructure Development”. In more formal terms, it is the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan For Connectivity, which is a digital tool that will help the government overcome these issues.
How did this project materialize?
In 2012, talks were held to materialize the Dholera Smart City project in Gujarat. However, there was no railway station within 40 km of the area. To overcome the problem, a digital map of Dholera and surrounding areas was created to get an overview of the area, following which a railway line was created. However, other issues such as lack of pipelines and sewer lines have multiplied infrastructure costs. The Dholera project became the first to recognize this problem and to propose a special purpose vehicle (SPV) with the National Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (NICDC) Trust. This entire episode served as the trigger point for what is now Prime Minister Gati Shakti’s national master plan.
What is the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan?
It is an Indian government mapping infrastructure launched in 2021. It offers a dashboard with a bird’s eye view of tunnels, roads, pipelines, bridges, forests, transmission cables and airports across the country. It’s like Google Maps software for Indian infrastructure. It will help in the planning and execution of complex projects and was developed by the Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N). The agenda is overcome delay of 1390 mega infrastructure projects.
As of today, Gati Shakti has 2000 layers of information and is growing minute by minute as more and more central and state agencies feed into the platform. This helps our infrastructural decision making. Indian projects are loaded with delays, which can now be centralized. The Kerala state government is one of the early adopters of this program. Projects in this program will be reviewed at three levels:
1. Technical Support Unit, which is at the lowest level
2. The National Planning Group (NPG), which deals with any deviations and issues that may arise.
3. Group of empowered secretaries, which is at the highest level and deals with any remaining discrepancies or escalated issues.
The central government is pushing more agencies to use this platform in addition to all states and union territories, including 23 central ministries that are already on board. However, the government should also be wary if sensitive information, such as hacking, is rampant. Moreover, there is a dearth of digitized land records and land use has always been the Achilles heel of independent India. Finally, Indian projects require heavy execution, which we have yet to accomplish efficiently.