Back in 2007, it was a tough call for Navdeep Asija to quit his job at an MNC in Delhi and return to his hometown Fazilka in Punjab to set up an NGO, the Graduate Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF). The aim was to make the roads in his town safer.
Back in 2007, it was a tough call for Navdeep Asija to quit his job at an MNC in Delhi and return to his hometown Fazilka in Punjab to set up an NGO, the Graduate Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF). The aim was to make the roads in his town safer, ensure right of way to pedestrians, and upgrade urban planning. “It required the youth to have pride in their roots, and in the town’s heritage and resources,” he says. In 2008, his efforts at creating a dedicated call centre to book rickshaws, ‘Ecocabs’ (or dail-a-cycle rickshaw), made national headlines and was subsequently awarded the National Award of Excellence by the Union ministry for urban development in 2011. “I used the award money to buy mobile phones for all the ‘eco-cab pilots’.
Asija, a PhD from IIT Delhi, is also the traffic management advisor to the Punjab government now. The 16 departments directly or indirectly linked to surface transport work with him to make roads in the state safer.
The work which he started in Fazilka is being scaled up now. Asija and his 15-member team work out of an office at the Punjab Police Complex in Mohali. “I don’t call it my office, it is a laboratory,” Asija says. “We try to identify and seek solutions to many of the problems people face in surface transport.” Using artificial intelligence, geographical information systems and other data interpretation tools, Asija has developed a Road Safety Management System for traffic challan management, contactless penalisation, even toll management to check and track vehicle theft. Apart from this, the database helps in urban planning and identification of black spots (where most fatal accidents happen). The team has identified 395 black spots in Punjab. Three verticals are also being developed-major database management, road crash investigation along with road safety audits and capacity-building by training and sensitising officials in the state machinery.Source: India Today