What is IBMS?
Minister of Roads, Transport and Highways – Nitin Gadkari – says, “Poor condition of bridges hampers efficient transport and has also led to accidents and loss of lives on several occasions. IBMS aims to fill this gap by preparing a data base of all bridges in the country and detailing their structural condition so that timely action can be taken to repair action can be taken to repair the structures or build new ones in their place.”
Why IBMS is required?
Lack of any data on the bridges across India has led to a situation in which there is no clarity about the exact number, location and condition of bridges. IBMS helps in maintaining the structured information of bridges all over the country and their respective status. And it does so in an efficient manner.
Bridges in poor conditions hampers efficient transport and also leads to accidents and loss of lives on several occasions. IBMS aims to fill this gap by finding out the status of each bridge and addressing the immediate risks.
Helps in proper planning:
IBMS not only predicts the future needs of funds but also it helps in optimum utilization of funds. Also, it helps in prioritizing the assets for maintenance needs. For example, it will detail the structural condition of the bridges and help the government to take a decision on repairing the existing bridge or build new ones in their place.
Recover the lost revenue:
By ensuring the bridges are in proper condition and with relevant infrastructure developed, the lost revenue to other modes of transport will be gained back and it could have ripple effect on the economy and status of the bridges as well.
When were similar initiatives carried out?
To strengthen India's infrastructure space and focus on building road and railway network, optical fibre network, water, grid and electricity connectivity along with electricity supply, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, earlier this year, inaugurated an ambitious Rs 50,800-crore Setu Bharatam project.
Details of the Setu Bharatam project:
Where are the challenges?
WITH ROADS & BRIDGES:
On 3rd August, 2016, a British-era bridge across the Savitri River on the Mumbai-Goa highway collapsed. This resulted in the washing away of over ten vehicles, killing of more than 26 people and sweeping away of 30 people in the swollen river. Incidents like these served as the motivation behind such an initiative (IBMS) by the government.
Although, India has the second largest road network in the world, with USA leading from the front, it is not without challenges. They include:
Most of the bridges in India are pretty old and it is definite that new ones should be constructed and also the old ones are refurbished to a great extent.
The roads in India span over 2 million kilometres, including 53 National highways which carry about 40 percent of the total road traffic. Although many initiatives are being planned to improve the quality of roads, the large population and the heavy traffic on the roads are acting as a deterrent from the work seeing a successful completion.
Deplorable state of Indian roads and bridges:
Majority of the roads and bridges in India are indeed in a pathetic and deplorable state. These highlight an urgent need for a complete makeover of such infrastructure.
Accidents due to bridge collapses and the pathetic condition of roads are becoming alarmingly frequent. As per a survey conducted, there is one death every 4 minutes due to road accidents.While drunken driving is also a leading cause, the poor condition of the roads is also very much a culprit.
Out of the 2 million kilometres, only 960000 Km is surfaced while the remaining are poorly constructed ones, and 25% of the villages have poor road links. Although a huge amount of money is invested to address the issue for the past 30 years, but the condition remains far from solved.
The systemic corruption in the sector is one of the root causes for the poor quality of roads and bridges. This is because – sub standard materials are used for construction of roads and bridges so that they require frequent patch works especially after every monsoon. Also, the time taken for the completion of a project is also huge and is way beyond what is required.
Lack of accountability:
Due to the presence of multiple layers of administration at central and state levels, there is lack of accountability and expediency in the projects. This also resulted in the poor quality of roads and bridges and blame game on fractured output.
WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF IBMS:
Who will benefit from the initiative?
How will IBMS work?
National Identity Number (NIN):
The bridges are given a ‘Unique Identity Number’ based on the state, RTO zone or located on National Highway, State Highway. This is the first step of the inventory creation.
Bridge Location Number (BLN):
Then, their precise location details, in form of latitude and longitude, are to be collected in an auto-mode using the ground positioning system.
Bridge Classification Number (BCN):
Once these details are collected, the engineering properties of the bridge design, material and other technical details of the bridge are being collected. These are essential components of inventory collection process.
Structural Rating Number (SRN):
On the completion of inventory data, the structural component rating is done using a 0 to 9 scale, to define the status of various bridge components like – foundation, piers, super structure, scour rating, waterway adequacy, structural status etc.
Socio-Economic Bridge Rating Number:
This number will decide the importance of the bridge, in relation to its contribution to daily social and economic activity of the area, in its immediate vicinity.
Based on the inventory of various numbers thus formed, IBMS will analyse data and identify bridges that need attention. Further physical inspection will be carried out to improve the operational availability of the structure, enhance its life and prioritize repair and rehabilitation work.
The way forward:
Now IBMS is being done extensively on National Highway network, which is about 2% of the road network in our country. The way forward is to implement IBMS on all the State Highways and on all the major Districts’ roads, so that, at best 50% of road network can be brought under its gambit – to ensure that IBMS is Protecting Indian Bridges.