Digital Transformation of NHAI and Journey to Success of FASTag

New Delhi (India), December 29: On 28th December 2022, Mr Akhilesh Srivastava talked with senior Administrative Officers about “Digital Transformation of NHAI and Journey to Success of FASTag”, at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie (LBSNAA, Mussoorie), in Phase III of the Mid-Career Training Program of IAS Officers on “Digital Governance including Public Service Delivery”, which runs from 26 – 30 December 2022.

Mr. Akhilesh Srivastava is a globally reputed digital and innovative technology leader. He has successfully led many e-governance projects in India like FASTag (electronic toll collection system of India), e-Tendering platform (Portal used by the majority of centre/state governments and PSUs for procurement), ODR Portal (India’s first online dispute resolution portal), citizen-centric highway information Mobile Apps, Geo-Fencing of national highways and next-gen AI-powered NHAI Data Lake.

He leads the World Economic Forum’s initiative in India Road Safety 2.0, which is “Shaping the Future of Road Safety in India” with a technology-driven approach and creating a human-centric road ecosystem where technology compensates for human limitations and saves lives. The pilots of road safety 2.0 proved that road accidents could be quickly reduced by over 90% by using the latest technologies.

IRF (International Road Federation, India Chapter) recently appointed him as Road Safety Brand Ambassador. With IRF (IC) he launched a pilot of an impactful road safety initiative, the “IRF Safe School Zone Program,” to improve road safety near schools. In the Safe School Zone Program, road safety near schools will be audited and displayed on the IRF Web portal with ranking and colour coding based on safety features. The portal will bring the vulnerabilities of road safety in school zones to public view so that people can put pressure on the school & civil administration to rectification and improve safety near schools.

Mr. Akhilesh Srivastava talked about various Digital Governance Models for Public Service Delivery with senior IAS officers in Phase III of the Mid-Career Training Program on “28th December 2022″. He talked about the digitisation journey of NHAI and the highway sector and shared his experience of implanting it. The implementation challenges and positive outcomes of digitisation, as how digitisation helped to increase the pace of highway construction and toll revenue. He said that immediately after the 1st phase of the COVID pandemic, when a majority of construction industries were struggling to restart their works, NHAI broke its record for the highest number of KMs of construction, with over 4250 KMs NH construction in both the pandemic-affected years. This could be possible due to NHAI Data Lake, which has converted the NHAI into a paperless organization.

NHAI Data Lake is one of the futuristic & innovative creations of Mr. Akhilesh Srivastava. It has been recognised as one of the best digital solutions for end-to-end project management systems of large Infra projects involving multi-stakeholders. All the contractors, concessionaires, consultants, and NHAI officers were working paperless through the NHAI Data Lake Platform. The other advantages of the Data Lake were tracking every document, pendency of files & approvals,  land acquisition & environment clearance cases and payments. These led to the clearance of over 200 long pending approvals and reduced the time to payments with lesser disputes. Together, these led to an unprecedented increase in the pace of construction despite the COVID pandemic.

Mr. Akhilesh Srivastava also discussed the challenges often faced in implementing large-scale digital programs with the Administrative Officers and how these challenges are quickly overcome by the benefits experienced by citizens and thus increased public participation.

He shared his experience of FASTag implementation and how tough it was since it was not merely a Software Platform like Aadhar or UPI but a complex ecosystem comprising 36 hardware items, a robust & secure software platform, network connectivity, online transactions & payment settlements, and customer complaint redressal simultaneously. Convincing commuters was challenging but bringing toll operators, who were cozy with the manual toll collection system, into the FASTag ecosystem was a more significant challenge. But soon, everyone realised the benefits, and FASTag became super successful.

The FASTag has revolutionized the logistics and highway sector with an efficient and transparent toll collection on over 900 toll booths across the country. It is one of the world’s most extensive electronic toll collection systems, with above 100 lakh daily transactions, collecting more than Rs 150 Crore daily (annually to Rs 40,000 crores). This has led to an increase in revenue and a drastic reduction in waiting time at toll plazas, saving another at least Rs 20,000 crores per year apart from reducing carbon emission due to fuel-burning at toll plazas by at least 5 million tons annually.

Mr. Akhilesh Srivastava is an IT Advisor to the ITDA, Uttarakhand Government and started many latest advanced Web-2 and Web-3 technology-driven e-governance programs in Uttarakhand, like Blockchain and AI, for quick and hassle-free service delivery to the citizens. Uttarakhand Government citizen’s e-service portal Apuni Sarkar was adjudged one of the 75 best citizen-centric services by the government of India.  In the final stage of development, Uttarakhand Data Lake will transform the governance model and can be a role model for the nation.

Before this, Mr. Akhilesh Srivastava was Chief General Manager at NHAI (National Highway Authority of India), responsible for the IT automation, construction and operation of national highways and expressways in India. He held many crucial portfolios of NHAI, Commercial Operations and Highway operations apart from IT. He introduced many digital technologies in the highway sector, like Drones, LiDAR, GIS, Project Management Systems etc.

He also held senior management positions in NHAI-led companies as a Board Member, COO in IHMCL and CEO of NHAI InvIT Co. He brought a unique synthesis of government & corporate working cultures to improve operational efficiencies.

It was a brilliant learning session for everyone. Hopefully, the IAS officers, who will serve the nation in leading administrative positions, will have a good insight into implementing large-scale citizen-centric digital programs, the challenges and how to overcome them to make the program successful. This may help them improve the public service delivery system and e-Governance modules.

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