When Ola approached the Punjab government offering to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, the latter was quick to ask the cab aggregator to help with wheat procurement. The Pandemic Management System, created by the company, was tested on the first day of procurement from mandis on Wednesday. From tracking vehicles to providing them passes in curfew, the app is also expected to help authorities prevent overcrowding at the grain markets.
A government spokesperson said that an e-pass system created by the department of governance reforms enables secretaries of market committees across the state to generate mobility passes for farmers, as well as by arthiyas or commission agents for a particular date. An m-pass system is also available through the Punjab Mandi Board’s ePMB mobile application for allocation of passes to trolley drivers by the arthiya.
Officials said a centralized database has been provided by Ola on a pro bono basis to track vehicular movement across the 4,000 purchasing centres, which will help adhere to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The ePMB app has been integrated with the system provided by Ola. The dashboard shows a district-wise list of mandis to the authorities and provides them the exact location of farmers or active passes on the map.
“The app, installed on the farmers’ mobiles, will alert them about rush spots at mandi gates. The dashboard will alert about pass issuance, expiry and validity as well,” said the government spokesperson.
The arthiya has to feed the farmer’s mobile number into the system. “When the mobile number of the person who has to bring the trolley to the mandi is entered, the server will automatically push a message to that farmer that the pass has been issued and ask him to click on the link for activation. When activated, the tracking starts,” said a senior officer associated with the process.
Punjab Mandi Board Secretary Ravi Bhagat said the Ola facility will be used to track movement of the trolleys, and the system is able to show them the number of active passes and how many have reached mandis. “This way we will also know about the number of active passes available at mandis. The DCs, market secretaries and other senior officers will have a dashboard showing the number of trolleys at different mandis. This will be also used to crowd control to maintain social distance,” said Bhagat.
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