Home Articles Decentralising decision making for development

Decentralising decision making for development

Dr Bhoop Singh

Advisor/ Scientist-G

Department of Science & Technology, Govt of India


Spatial decision support tools can be used for integrated planning and management of resources at district and sub-district levels. Dr. Bhoop Singh tells Geospatial World more about the role of Natural Resources Data Management System in developing these tools

Can you brief us on how and when the need was felt to come up with Natural Resources Data Management System (NRDMS)?

 The Department of Science and Technology has laid a continued emphasis on decentralising the process and practice of planning to the local level (district and below) so as to develop strategies for development. In furthering this objective, the Department developed a set of state-of-the-art tools and techniques under its Natural Resources Data Management System programme. The programme was initiated in 1983 and over the last 30 years, it has contributed immensely to develop technologies and tools for better decision making at district and sub district levels.

What are the core activities of NRDMS?

NRDMS focuses on developing methodologies and techniques in development studies through a conglomeration of academics and research institutions.  The programme aims at developing and demonstrating the use of spatial decision support tools for integrated planning and management of resources at district and sub-district levels.

How is NRDMS maintaining pace with technological advancements? How are you using geospatial technology?

Over the years, there have been tremendous advancements in technological capabilities, particularly in data acquisition, analysis and applications. Remote sensing and GIS, along with geographical positioning systems, have helped in attempting various applications to solve area-specific problems. Under NRDMS, efforts are constantly being made to absorb such technologies and facilitate the scientists and the planners to take advantage of such technologies.

How are local communities involved in the programme?

The mandate of NRDMS puts focus on local area development planning. This is an important activity where immense efforts have been made to involve local people’s participation in data collection and data-based development, particularly through programmes like Neighbourhood Mapping. It was a very successful programme where the capabilities of local community / representatives were greatly appreciated.

Natural resources are a significant contributor to economic development in the country. How is NRDMS accentuating their role as a contributor?

It is true that natural resources play a vital role in economic development of the country.  But first step is to properly assess the natural resources and develop suitable and sustainable technologies to conserve these resources and exploit them based on the requirement. The NRDMS programme provides a platform to easily estimate the potential of natural resources’ availability and their conservation strategies. 

The Department is now focusing on the 12th NRDMS plan. Could you please brief us on its objectives and targets?

Taking note of the requirements mentioned earlier and the developments in the areas of geo-information and communication technologies (ICT) worldwide and geospatial data management and analysis techniques like remote sensing and GIS, certain initiatives have been taken at the national level to create awareness on the usefulness of these technologies amongst planners and decision-makers during the 12th Plan. National Geographical System and State Spatial Infrastructure would be the main focus to achieve the revised targets under NRDMS.

What are the challenges faced in implementation of the project so far and how have you overcome those challenges?

In the implementation of any research programme, the major challenge is to understand the aspirations of the stakeholders. More importantly, the difficult part is the need assessment of the users. At every stage, one has to explain the potential of the programme in solving area-specific problems to the planners. In addition, one needs to understand the type of programmes that are being implemented as part of the planning process. There should be a clear match with the programme objectives and the requirement of the data needed to implement the developmental schemes. This is being sorted out with close efforts with the planners in consultative mode and their participation is being ensured to implement the programme successfully.

How do you integrate SDI and NRDMS data? What strategies do you follow to avoid the duplicacy in data?

I would say that first, there is no duplication in efforts of NRDMS while working in parallel to SDIs. There may be difference in scale of mapping of resources and perhaps in change of resolution also. But, both are important and have separate aim to help the planners to implement the developmental schemes at various levels. State SDI is a broad area where the entire state would be looked as a package in GIS format, which may be considered as base line data to work upon for various applications. Whereas NRDMS can still play a crucial role to concentrate on local issues and problems to provide S&T solutions and contribute in developing capacity building and training at various levels. Therefore, I do not see any sort of duplicity in such data set.