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Time to bring automation in critical infrastructure, says Praveen Sinha of Jabong

The Parliament has recently passed DFI Bill to boost investment in infrastructure for rapid development

The present regime has been aggressively focusing on developing the critical infrastructure across the nation. Recently, the parliament has also passed the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID) Bill, 2020 to boost infrastructure. From railways to pipelines, the government has planned to infuse billions of dollars in the development of the cornerstone of the economy. However, the Co-founder and ex-MD of Jabong, Praveen Sinha has said that the government should also consider introducing automation to its gigantic infra projects to make them more resilient, efficient, and cost-effective.

While applauding the efforts of the present regime, he said that the government is making unprecedented moves to attract investments and even foster the growth of infrastructure throughout the nation. “The government must be appreciated for their ultra-active indulgence in the infra sector. The construction business in India is going up at a rapid pace and is expected to become the third-largest in the world soon. Development of roads and railways, in particular, has revolutionized the logistics and warehousing in India.”

An investment of INR 50 trillion in infra is required by the year 2022 to achieve sustainable development of the country. Therefore, the government is aggressively engaged in attracting funds to achieve its mammoth investment goals. Moreover, the World Bank in its Logistics Performance Index (LPI) has placed the nation at 44 ranks out of 167 countries in 2018 and the Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index has ranked India in second place, making the nation an attractive opportunity for investments and viable returns.

Owing to the time to come in near future, Praveen Sinha has suggested that the government must introduce automation to its high-end infra projects for achieving desired objectives. “Automation at first can be expensive but in the long run is cost-efficient. Take the example of roads and highways. It is a highly cost-sensitive area and the stakeholders are a bit sceptical about introducing automation in it. However, it is evident that those who have implemented it are enjoying low maintenance cost, making the whole process go cost-effective.”

Countries like Japan, which are troubled by its ageing infrastructure, have been deploying automation for maintenance and are spending millions of dollars to make it possible. “We will have to learn from these countries. Now, we are creating state-of-the-art infra projects, but maintaining them manually will prove to be a herculean and costly task. As soon as they will start ageing, the cost for implementation of artificial intelligence and allied technology will quadruple.”

He said that the India-Japan Coordination Forum for Development of Northeast’s strategic infra projects is an opportunity to learn from Japan on creating futuristic infrastructure that will cater to the needs of coming generations.

He also praised Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari who in his recent statement has said that India will become toll-free within two years. “Implementation of GPS-based toll collection is a revolutionary idea. People are going to get free from jams at the toll stations which are already de burdened with the introduction of FASTag systems,” says Praveen SinhaJabong, Co-Founder. He also added that more such initiatives are required not only at the national, but in the states and local levels too, to make Indian roads on par with the international standards. On railways, he said that an expert panel and a startup from Stanford led by an Indian “are already working on connecting sensors from rail coaches to satellites. Railways have already started it and that is commendable. However, there is a need to manoeuvre more resources in the direction.” 

“Implementation of automation in the infra will also give startups in India ample opportunities to engage with the government and actively collaborate in the process of public policies,” he adds.

Praveen Sinha is the founder and ex-MD of Jabong. With over two decades of experience in the corporate sector, he is a well-known face in the Indian startup industry.

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