Goodbye to perpetually dug up roads

With digital mapping of the city’s underground and overground utilities spread over 1,500 sq km, Delhi’s 30 civic agencies have the means to coordinate better


Danish Raza | September 2, 2011

Workers digging up a road in Delhi
Workers digging up a road in Delhi

Imagine the seemingly impossible. Imagine that your city’s multiple municipal bodies actually coordinate with each other and dig up the roads to attend to water pipes, broadband cables, gas pipelines and sewage pipes - all at once instead of one after the other which results in perpetually dug-up roads.

While you are at it, also imagine that the staff of a municipal body preparing to lay a pipeline knows precisely how deep to dig so that it does not damage the other pipes or cables.

Imagine further that the civic agencies manage to find out at the click of a mouse whether there is an alternate site where trees need not be cut for a particular project or at least an alternate site for replanting the trees.

Delhi’s geospatial project brings such imagination into the realm of reality and allows the city’s civic agencies to do all this and more.

This has become possible by digitally mapping the city’s underground and overground utilities spread across 1,500 square kilometres. As a result, 30 civic agencies - including the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and Public Works Department (PWD) - have access to geospatial maps of underground utilities such as water, sewer, telephones and power lines, and overground utilities including roads, bridges, metro and railway lines.

To help turn the project envisaged by the Delhi government’s information technology department into reality, the Survey of India has provided the state government with large scale maps (1:2,000) using aerial photography. The data has been captured through 3D mapping besides ground surveys of utilities and 40 lakh properties on the ground, global positioning system (GPS) survey, levelling, aerial images, ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey, ground validation and inputs from the line departments.

"The idea is to help these bodies plan and execute various projects in a coordinated manner," says Santulan Chaubey, additional general manager, Geospatial Delhi Ltd (GSDL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established for the initiative. The company monitors the creation, maintenance and dissemination of geospatial data across the city.

In order to ensure that all the government bodies use the information made available by GSDL, the state has enacted the Geospatial Data Infrastructure (Management, Control, Administration, Security and Safety) Act which makes the utilisation and application of data compulsory by line departments and various agencies. But the use of information, says Chaubey, is not uniform across the government departments. "It depends on how urgently the agency wants to avail such information," he says.

Take MCD, for example, which covers almost a third of the city’s population and has been finding it difficult to check unauthorised constructions. Now, it has established monitoring centres in eight of its 12 zones with cameras that move at 360 degrees and with change detection software installed in them. The moment there is a change in a building’s structure, the software is able to capture it. "The database is ready. Soon, we will have the connectivity to the geospatial server and will start using the technology," says Pradeep Khandelwal, superintending engineer, MCD, "We will also be using the data for disease surveillance, planning of infrastructure, preparation of estimates and identification of property tax violators."

The NDMC, which covers 42 sq km of the city, has been using the geospatial data since 2006. "It helps us immensely in main taining water supply and electric lines," says Amit Prasad, director, IT, NDMC.

The state government plans to make available some generic geospatial database to the citizens as well in the future. Once this happens, you too will be able to locate the hospitals, metro stations, petrol pumps and other utilities at the click of a mouse.



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