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Use pre-paid cards to pay octroi: Maran

Shobha Warrier in Chennai | September 07, 2004 18:08 IST

Application of telematics in the form of pre-paid cards can help reduce the serpentine queues to pay octroi and toll tax, said Dayanidhi Maran, Minister for Communication and Information Technology, in Chennai on Tuesday.

He was inaugurating the second International Telematics Conference, Tele Trans (Telematics in Transportation), 2004, which has been organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in association with the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore; the Society for Indian Automobile Manufacturers; the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India; and the Society of Automotive Engineers India.

Stating that telematics is a technology discipline that integrates telecommunications and informatics, the minister added, "In the recent years, the telecom services sector is growing at an average rate of about 30 per cent annually. The teledensity at the national level is about 7.7 per cent, while it is more than 22 per cent in urban areas. Today, we have more than 83 million phones in the country."

The minister agreed with the experts that despite the impressive growth and use of telecom services, telematics in transportation in India is still at a very nascent stage.

"We need to cover many areas in this direction. For the transport sector, I recommend use of the global positioning system (GPS) as early as possible to ensure optimal utilisation of available fleet and resources. Value-added services can be provided to people on the move using telematics."

Quoting a projection by consultants Frost and Sullivan in their report, the minister said that the whole gamut of vehicle telematics, including in-vehicle telematics, inter-vehicle telematics and vehicle-to-the-world telematics, would be worth $5 billion by the year 2005.

"In this context, it is imperative that we introduce at the earliest low-cost and appropriate telematics technology in India to provide increased safety, enhanced productivity, improved efficiency and much needed value added services to all consumers," Maran said.

"I feel this initiative requires a consortium-based approach with active involvement of various industries, state and central governments, academia and national research laboratories," the minister added.

Maran urged academia not to waste time, money and energy on reinventing what is already available. Instead, they should start from what has already been done. He emphasised that there is a need for standardisation of technology solutions for ultimate reduction in application and maintenance costs.

He was of the opinion that this would not only benefit the Indian consumer and the Indian industry but would enable India to get a reasonable share of the global automotive industry.

He also informed the gathering that the Union government has recently decided to upgrade the infrastructure and R&D facilities currently available at the Chennai Auto Cluster consisting of auto components manufacturing and services located at Ambattur, Thirumudivakkam and Thirumazhisi regions involving an investment of Rs 47 crore (Rs 470 million), of which Rs 35 crore (Rs 350 million) would be outright Central Government grant. He specified that a part of this grant is meant to upgrade the information technology level presently available at the auto cluster.

The development of Chennai Auto Cluster is expected to benefit 340 small and medium and 15 large industries and improve export earnings from Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion) to Rs 950 crore (Rs 9.50 billion), besides creating an additional employment for 12,000 people.

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