Home Articles Bihar banks on WebGIS framework for infrastructure planning

Bihar banks on WebGIS framework for infrastructure planning

Geographical Information System (GIS) has emerged as powerful tool which has potential to organise complex spatial environment with tabular relationships.  The main aim of the iBhugoal (Bihar Infrastructure Mapping – Geomatics Oriented Application Model) Project is to establish Bihar GIS as a tool to represent resources (natural as well as manmade) of Bihar for location- specific planning, decision-making and monitoring. The project, a joint initiative of the Department of Information Technology, Govt of Bihar and National Informatics Centre, Bihar, envisages the establishment of Bihar State Spatial Data Infrastructure for Multi-Layer GIS for planning and e-governance by taking advantage of existing and available data and ICT infrastructure resources. Need was felt to introduce GIS technologies and bring in dynamism and transparency in the nature of working, in order to overcome problems related to planning, development monitoring and decision-making. It is largely meant to visualise MIS data spatially through thematic maps for making quicker and better decisions. Geomatics is the synergy of multiple disciplines, evolved as a separate discipline dealing with spatial and non-spatial information, its method of acquisition, organization, classification, analysis, management, display and dissemination. It provides not only the answers for macro-level planning but also state-of-the-art models to the government in the context of decentralised planning for sustainable development in rural areas. The present work focuses on developing a WebGIS integrated framework for planning infrastructural facilities up to village level. The infrastructural facilities considered at village level include educational and medical  facilities, aganwadi kendras, rural roads under PMGSY (Pradhan Manthi Grameen Sadak Yojana) , BPL (below poverty line) families, forest cover, agricultural acilities, water canals, schemes under MGNREGS at different levels, power supply, physical connectivity, water supply, banks and post offices etc.


There has been no concept of spatial data inventory or SDI (spatial data infrastructure) in the state of Bihar. There have been scattered efforts from the officers at different departments to map the existing MIS data and other infrastructure using drawing tools in computer, for their reference. These are available in bits and pieces and lie with different departments in different formats. These data and maps however do not conform to any mapping standards and also there is no such state policy which defines the standard procedures of mapping and their maintenance. The main drawback of such practice was that, integration of these maps was not possible. Such practices also fail to reflect the current functional status of infrastructure and the services on the ground to the administrators at higher levels to make strategic and informed decisions. In turn, large investments are made to answer specific queries frequently made from various apex forums and internal planning. Moreover, results may also vary for similar queries raised at different points of time. It was felt that introduction of GIS technologies will bring in focus existing spatial reality which will lead to dynamism and transparency in the nature of working, in order to have 360 degree view and overcome problems related to planning, development monitoring & decision-making.

Geographic information technology has developed at a remarkable pace over the past two decades and will play a key role in development of nations. Time has now come for all decision makers to discuss the appropriateness of GIS technology and its applications to rural development, forest management, urban development planning, land information systems and agricultural development. This will also provide a suitable solution for the use of GIS for educational infrastructure development with special emphasis on rural sector in India. In the present age of emerging technologies, a combination of spatial and non-spatial databases using GIS provides not only the answers for macro-level planning but also state-of-the-art models for micro-level planning for sustainable development in rural areas. Recently, with the development of graphics, distributed processing and network communications, application software emerged as powerful tool which can now be used routinely and effectively. At the core of these developments is GIS but gradually, these are being adapted to the kind of decision and management functions that lie at the heart of the planning process. Use of GIS to support a wide range of planning and management operations will make an enormous impact towards guiding the development and growth of rural areas. Rather than aiming at optimal solutions, pragmatic approaches must rely on the usage of heuristic problems capable of supporting the dynamic requirements of the domain. Hence, the spatial entity, when associated with the non-spatial attributes, will be useful to achieve most rational infrastructure strategy. This is a key factor for applying GIS technology as a tool in supporting road network planning.

Scope of the project

The entire project envisages “Whole to Part” approach of data organization and navigation. At national level, the base reference is in 1:50,000 scale and could further be scaled up to 1:10,000 or higher scale as per application requirements. This is being integrated with holistic approach, combining data in various scales of mapping such as 1:50,000, 1:10,000, 1:1,000 etc. and from various sources. Most of the applications at NIC so far are developed as web service under which the users shall access the map resources through browser from their desktops and hence one-way communication. Whatever is made available in the service is available only for viewing and no editing or modification is possible in such service. Update for the same are carried out off line. Further, the concepts of providing specific services to clients were tested where editing of data feasible locally. The audience to these services is for general purposes. However, under this project, it is proposed, as per requirement, to go a step ahead and enable the service for interaction from the field staff of Bihar Government to identify various resources and infrastructures on map service and forward the same to NIC for update in the spatial database to create a shareable repository of data. Suitable tools have been deployed at the client level to capture the infrastructure as point, line or polygon on base map provided through web-service.


The following are the objectives of the project:

  • Creation of state spatial database infrastructure for data sharing among various departments.
  • Integration of geospatial data and MIS data of different departments namely education, rural works, social welfare, election, building construction, irrigation etc.
  • Integration of SOI maps with online map services such as Google, Bing, Esri etc.
  • Query facilities for planning and decision making by departments.
  • To facilitate efficient and effective tools for planning rural road connectivity to habitations.
  • To facilitate the coverage of habitations through various kinds of schools.
  • Better management of facilities such as schools, anganwadi kendra, PHCs etc which deliver citizen centric services.
  • To help achieve transparency and easiness in planning and monitoring processes of work-site to achieve real-time monitoring.
  • Smooth and effective management of election process through proper use of GIS maps
  • To offer scientific approach for irrigation facilities planning, flood management and management of embankments.
  • Analysis of forest reserve and forest inventory so that clearance of schemes can be linked through GIS maps.

Geographical coverage of the project

  • 38 districts of Bihar
  • 534 blocks of state of Bihar
  • 8463 panchayats
  • Departments such as rural works department, irrigation department, public works department, Bihar education project, state health society, forest etc.
  • Citizens of state through Web Site https://gis.bih.nic.in/

WebGIS as Service for G2C, G2G Applications


  • Bihar geo-tagged asset register so that it is possible to identify which scheme has been carried under which project, to minimise duplicity of effort.
  • Geographical maps of state, district, block, panchayats and other administrative boundaries
  • On-line verification of schemes, physical and financial progress of schemes and validation of execution process.
  • Booth details, ERO and BLO details of each booth of state for requesting to add new names in voter list.
  • Bihar atlas containing various thematic maps for socio economic analysis.
  • Road and habitation details of selected areas and various schemes being carried out to these areas under specific schemes.
  • Urban boundaries of major cities of state
  • Integration of GIS maps with on-line GIS Services such as Google, Bing, Esri etc so that they can enquire route and add places of interest.
  • Profiles of rural roads regarding physical and financial progress.
  • Assembly, parliamentary, booth distribution maps of Bihar along with route charts
  • Integration of various MIS data for on-line queries and adding spatial dimension for the schemes.


  • Integrated spatial database inventory of the state to be shared among different departments for action oriented planning.
  • Distribution of schools and buffering of high schools within 5 km radius.
  • Coverage of habitations in 1 km radius of primary schools for opening new schools
  • Digitisation of rural roads to cover 250 population in naxal-affected areas and 500 population in other areas
  • Identification of election booth and preparation of route chart.
  • Road profile and progress monitoring of physical and financial targets.
  • Management of irrigation facilities such as rivers, streams and canals
  • Creation of core network for agriculture transmission line of electricity.
  • Creation of core network under Mukya mantri Gram Sampark Yojana.
  • Major district roads under public works department.
  • Naxal-affected assembly segments and booths
  • Forest area mapping and identification of forest reserve.
  • Mapping of rivers, canals, streams for irrigation and flood management.
  • Generation of on-line thematic maps based on MIS data.
  • Spatial query facility based on spatial data and MIS data available.


  • GIS-based design and development of application including analytics development by department in collaboration with private agencies.

Integration of spatial and thematic database for service delivery

There were scattered efforts by officers at different departments to map the existing MIS data and other infrastructure using drawing tools in computer, for their reference. These are available in bits and pieces and lie with departments in different formats. These data and maps however do not conform to any mapping standards and also there is no such policy at present within the state, which defines the standard procedures of mapping and their maintenance. The main drawback of such practice is that, integration of these maps is not possible. Such practices also fail to reflect the current functional status of infrastructure and the services on the ground to the administrators at higher levels to make strategic and informed decisions. This leads to large investments to answer specific queries frequently made from various apex forums and internal planning. Moreover, results may also vary for similar queries raised at different points of time. Introduction of GIS brings into focus existing spatial reality which will lead to dynamism and transparency in the nature of working, in order to overcome problem issues related to planning, development monitoring and decision-making. Establishing GIS system for data organisation and management for existing infrastructure and its coverage, with appropriate technology framework and standards may go a long way in reaping benefits of collaborative dynamic environment and may lead to large scale benefits. An application software has been developed for integrating the spatial village maps with non-spatial or tabular information can be demonstrated for its potential for grass-root level development planning taking into consideration the local needs and constraints. It has also established its usefulness to the decision-makers in the district to generate views/scenarios for decision-making at local-level. This prototype community GIS tool will serve as a first step towards the development of decision support system for decentralised planning at district/block level. The spatial data provides base map around Survey of India (SOI) reference system in 1:50,000 scale. In the current proposal, we are addressing largely the base map which can facilitate planning and e-governance up to village level data. However, the map scale requirement for city/towns/municipal areas is 1:1000 or higher and for application at cadastral level is 1:4000.

Sectoral information for priority areas

Household survey or BPL Survey: BPL (below poverty line) 2007 data is currently available with Rural Development department. This data is also being used for issuing ration card as well as issuing master card for each household under Aam Admi Bima Yojana running under Labour Department. Though instruction had been given to use census codes for all villages in the BPL survey, however such code may not be available in uniformity. In such cases, field formations can be asked to codify the village with census codes.

MGNREGA Data: MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act)-Soft has been implemented across the state for capturing rural employment guarantee related data. The village codes have been census codified and entire data base uses census codes. However, NREGS uses separate codes for state, district, block, panchayat which is as per 2001 census. There is therefore a need for another look up table which maps the GIS look up table with currently available NREGS data. The data is available centrally at https://nrega.nic.in/. Thus the central GIS team would work with Rural Development Ministry NIC team for integration of such data.

MVR data of Land Registration: The Registration department is currently running client/server application at district level for capturing land registration related data. This data is currently not census codified. It is necessary to codify all the thana numbers with census codes and then identify parameters suitable for decision making under registration. MVR data can initially be used to create different level of maps along with various resource maps. It is proposed to create a cell at registration department responsible for capturing data from district formations and then upload the data to central server. Data on day to day basis such as number of registrations, variations in registrations as per MVR etc. can be depicted through MAP.

Rural Road Connectivity – PMGSY (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana) & MMGSY (Mukhya Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana)

Education [Human Resource Department]:  The human resource department is currently running various programmes at district / block / panchayat level. In order to take quality decisions, it is necessary that the parameters such as  number of schools [type wise], coverage area, number of students enrolled, number of colleages, number of schools under SSA [Surv Siksha Abhiyan] , mid day meals etc. can be mapped. Block information centres have been established by Education department for capturing and transmitting from lowest formations with Bihar Education Project (BEP). In addition, BEP has collected large volumes of data on school infrastructure, availability etc which can be GIS mapped. Specific requirements must be worked with Human Resource Department and BEP to create education layers.

 Environment and Forest: Forest coverage area maps can be created and digitised which can be overlaid on state/district maps to understand forest covers. There, various maps created by central agencies, which have been shared with Forest Department, can be digitised and can also be used for planning.

 Embankment and canals: Irrigation department has created a large chunk of irrigation canals which provide water for cultivation. Maps of canals, rivers, and traditional water bodies can be created which can be used for planning for irrigation, fisheries and social forestry. This can also help the department to prioritize schemes being undertaken.

Bridges: Bihar Pul Nirman Nigam has created large chunk of bridges which provide basic connectives to remote locations. Maps of bridges, coverage area, routes can be created which are suitable for planning for transportation, alternate routes, disaster management etc.  This can also help the department to prioritize schemes being undertaken.

Other Areas

  • Watershed management
  • GIS/GPS mapping of anganwadi kendra.
  • GPS mapping of IAY houses
  • GIS mapping of health facilities
  • Agriculture electricity network
  • GPS mapping of pumps and water bodies.

Metadata report for state

Metadata is “data about data”, in terms of its source, content, time reference, quality and condition.

This demands developing metadata report of Bihar State with the following deliverables:

  • Identification of data and its source – spatial/non spatial data inventory with state government agencies
  • Details of data content, condition and quality viz. parameter list, scale of maps time – reference, data format (digital/analog/paper etc.).
  • Identify data gaps and focus areas where GIS needs to be implemented
  • Cost-benefit analysis and broad estimation of efforts required.
  • An online system to update metadata from various stake holders.

Strategy of integration framework

The strategy for development envisages an ICT / GIS Framework. Infrastructure like hardware, software and data is available (up to 1:50,000 scale) and also provided by government (attributes or higher scale data).  In the current context, it can be used to map linear features like road network connecting the villages and towns and also the point locations like PHCs, schools in the villages where such accuracy will suffice. But for the geographic content such as those within the city, mapping is not feasible in the current framework. It requires high-resolution satellite data such as those from Quickbird, which has a resolution of up to 60cms. It is then possible to map the entire Bihar government infrastructure and the service areas within the cities. The high resolution maps for selected cities / areas will have the same look and feel. Therefore, the project envisages a framework architecture which can manage data in various scales and resolution as per the requirements.


The following approach was used:

1.   Use available data in 1:1 M, 1:250,000 and 1:50,000K as part of National GIS framework.

2.   Standardisation of framework for planning purpose in 1:50 K scale.

3.   Use satellite data at various resolutions viz AWIFF (56 m), LISS-III(23.5 m) PAN (5.8 m) and Quick Bird (61 cm).

4.   Extend National GIS and image services, deploy for state with due customisation as per       location needs.

5.   Identify state data sets and sources (metadata) and define, develop and implement state data inventory around National GIS Framework.

6.   Cost of additional datasets e.g high resolution satellites, bridging gaps, processing to be taken up by Bihar state government

7.   Initially, applications may be developed and deployed. These need to be migrated at the state data centres for online operation.

8.   Data to be provided by the state government  

9.   Spatial data value addition to be carried out by state organisations.

10. Metadata report with state approval

11. Appropriate delivery and implementation mechanism of services

Data sharing model and data format, interoperability and standards

Spatial data in GIS-based projects is drawn from multiple systems/sources in multiple data formats. There is a need to freeze a data format compatible with most of the systems while not compromising on the definition for representing the full functionality of the system. Legacy data, complexity of the analysis, models and visualisation techniques, including publishing on the web, may place additional dimension on freezing the suitable data format. Spatial data covering various features/themes (such as roads, habitations, water bodies, forest boundaries, etc. required for implementation of GIS) are available. Since GIS-based projects are costly and time-consuming, there is a need to have and follow national standards for creation of different thematic layers at different scales.

Methodology adopted  

GIS is an emerging technology and use of GIS for micro-level planning is still in the developmental phase. For developing a useful informatics tool for decentralised planning at micro-level in the form of spatial data infrastructure, the spatial database and non-spatial database have been created separately at village level and then integrated together under GIS environment to assist the decision- makers to generate various socio-economic views and scenarios for identifying the villages for rural development/ management schemes. The major steps involved in developing the spatial data  infrastructure involve the generation of spatial village maps, transformation of non-spatial census data as spatial entity using GIS, integration of spatial and non-spatial databases through the use of common identifiers, development of menu driven user interactive GUI (Graphical User Interface) and finally the generation of views and scenarios for  decentralised planning. The planners and decision-maker in general are not expected to have in-depth knowledge in the usage and application of GIS and hence a menu driven GUI has been developed so that users with basic knowledge of computers can work under GIS environment. Improved procedures of data management involve assessment of end-users, preparation of a conceptual data model, survey of available data and compilation of metadata, identification of data gaps and preparation of a detailed design of the GIS database. The development of Web-based GUI will make the spatial data infrastructure user- friendly and interactive.

Long term objective of the project

The overall long-term objective of the research activity on sustainable infrastructure will be to:

1.      Analyse the underlying driving forces of regional divergences in the demographic, economic,    socio-cultural, and environmental development of India by applying an integrative and truly multi-disciplinary framework.

2.       Develop a GIS and database with indicators that are specifically relevant for analysing and projecting divergences between rural and urban–industrial areas in India. This GIS should assist decision makers and planners in formulating rural development policies at the regional and national levels.

3.       Initiate new visions for rural development in Bihar by identifying innovative initiatives in lagging rural regions and by developing alternative development scenarios, which will give special emphasis to options outside the traditional sectors of agriculture and forestry.

4.      Continue the existing Internet platform for research on rural development.

Sustainability and training

Around 1500 officers and staff have been trained for capturing data and using GIS technology on a day-to-day basis. Engineers of various engineering departments have been trained to use GIS Web applications and generate thematic maps and other map requirements based on dynamic needs. Officers who have been trained to use applications include:

  • District election officers and additional districts election officers.
  • Executive engineers / assistant engineers / junior engineers of rural works department for using GIS application for PMGSY roads and Mukhya Mantri Gram Sampark Yojana
  • Forest mapping for officers of Forest Department
  • District education officers of state
  • Surveyers of A.N. Sinha  Institute, Patna for School and Anganwadi Kendra
  • District informatics officers and district informatics associates
  • Nodal officers of Rural Development Department
  • Civil engineers of Irrigation Department

Impacts and benefits

The following are the benefits observed:

  • Efficient and effective planning of connecting rural roads to habitations.
  • Better management of facilities
  • Achieving transparency and easiness in planning and monitoring processes.
  • Efficient updation of thematic maps
  • Scientific approach to rural road planning.  

Objectives realised in quantified terms

  • Creation of WEBGIS interface for citizens and departments for accessing spatial database inventory of state through https://gis.bih.nic.in/.
  • All base maps are being prepared in the scale of 1:4000 which is a first in the country for National GIS framework.
  • Boundaries of 38 districts, 534 blocks, 8463 panchayats and 45,164 revenue villages has been created for the citizens.
  • 1,05,620 kilometres of roads including national highways, state highways, major district roads and rural roads have been digitised and verified through Survey Of India maps.
  • MIS data of 56,000 roads has been integrated with the system for online monitoring and updating from field formations. Such data is also accessible to the citizens.
  • Minimum value register containing property tax values across the state have been digitised with different colour coding for different rates so that proper analysis can be done in fixing rates.
  • 1030 major bridges have been mapped under six hour travel to capital plan.
  • 1,08,864 habitations have been mapped for targeting various schemes and micro level planning.
  • 68,738 primary and middle schools and 2,984 high schools have been mapped along with DIAS data which has been integrated with the system for spatial query.
  • 80,995 Anganwadi Kendra have been mapped along with an application for on-line monitoring of scheme and geo-tagged photograph of anganwadi centres are uploaded on a regular basis.
  • Core network preparation of agriculture electricity line has been completed in four blocks of Patna.
  • Core network of rivers, canals, streams and embankments has been completed for irrigation planning.
  • 40 parliamentary segments, 243 assembly segments and 62,000 election booths have been mapped for preparation route charts and help citizens to identify the nearby booth.
  • On-line project management system allowing time-stamped, geo-tagged photograph to be uploaded from field formation has been developed.


The integrated geographic database for the state of Bihar is being created for all the development blocks. It provides detailed information about demographic pattern of the area, educational facilities at various levels, medical facilities at different levels, approach roads, tap water supply, power supply, post office and bank facilities available at village level. Spatial utility maps have been prepared and gap analysis has been carried out to identify villages lacking in the facilities. GIS has been found to be extremely useful in mapping and planning of infrastructural facilities. The methodology/framework developed can be adopted for other states also. Web GIS framework has been developed for spatial planning of infrastructural facilities in rural areas. It is expected that the use of Web GIS will help the planners in making more informed decisions in the field of infrastructural planning. The planners and decision-makers who do not have in-depth knowledge of GIS functioning can also use the developed Web GIS to improve the efficacy of planning process.

Future Developments  

With a better database, we can provide a better service to the user organisations to assist in their own decision-making process for developmental planning. A few possible future development programmes for better service to the users for decentralized planning are:

Customisation: A better Graphical User Interface (GUI) could be built using GIS, as it provides very comprehensive and fast access to information, both graphically and non-graphically. This makes the system more robust in terms of its communication with a variety of users.

Strategic unit for decentralised planning: Given that all village informatics are now spatially part of a common coordinated system, a number of useful combinations can be performed.

Decision support systems: As far as rural development planning is concerned, the atlas generated in the present study is unsophisticated but it is robust and functions with the data that are actually available with some organization.


1.      Gupta, R.D., P.K. Garg and M. Arora, 2001, A GIS Based Decision Support System for Developmental Planning in Dehradun District, Journal Indian Cartographer, Vol. 21.

2.      Kumar, R. Siva, P.S. Acharya, D. Dutta, M. Prithviraj, N. Mendiratta, and B. Singh, 2002, Natural Resources Data Management System (NRDMS- A Suite of Technologies for Local Level Planning, Map Asia Conference Proceeding, Aug. 2002, Bangkok, Thailand.

3.      Ghosh, S.K. (2005) GIS Based Modeling for Rural Infrastructure Development, National  Seminar on GIS Application in Rural Development, organized by Geomatics Cell, National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad September 26-28, 2005, pp 273-287.

4.      Kumar, L. and Misra D.D. (2003) GIS Based Application for Rural Development – A Policy Warranted, Map Asia Conference, Malaysia.

5.      e-Gram Suvidha : A geomatics approach for facility planning for sustainable development in Rural Areas Vivek Chitale and V.V.Sreedhara Rao  National Informatics Center, Ministry oz Information Technology, Government of India

6.      GIS Modeling for Rural Roads – I GeoApproach Project study of MP Govt. PMGSY project.

7       Environment Systems Research Institute, 1999 Getting to know ARCView, GIS, ESRI  Redlands

8       Manual of GEO SPATIAL Technology – Bossler J, Taylor and Francis publications  2002

9       Getting started with GIS– Clark K, 2001

10     Managing GIS projects – Huxhold W.E. Levinsohn A.G. 1995- Oxford University Press