Geoinformatics for decentralised planning

Geoinformatics for decentralised planning

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Dr N D Mani
Dr N D Mani
Head, Department of Rural Development
Gandhigram Rural Institute, Tamil Nadu, india
[email protected]

Government officials work at different levels and take location/area specific decision related to rural development. This paper stresses on the need for spatial treatment of data (i.e. presentation of data on maps) required for taking these type of decisions. The paper shows that there is a vast scope for the use of geoinformatics in facilitating the decision making process at various levels of decentralised planning

In the Indian sub-continent a number of agencies, both governmental and private, are involved in the preparation and provision of maps for official and commercial purposes. Due to changes in the methodology of planning, levels of planning and areas of planning, the requirement for maps and their use have increased in recent years.

The maps available with the Government departments at the district level at present bristle with inherent problems like non-availability and obsolescence and they are inaccessible to many of the potential users. The major disadvantage is that they fail to furnish the geographical information required by the officials or the elected representatives. Therefore, the departments like District Rural Development Agency, Lead Bank, Departments of Agriculture, Pollution Control Board and Ground Water, which take area/location specific decisions based on the information available in the maps, are forced to use these maps with several inadequacies and obsolescence. These departments do not have facilities for preparation of maps of their own with updated information.

The enactment of the 73rd and the 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1996 made the district, the panchayat union and the village panchayat as three levels of planning for the implementation of rural development programmes. The amendment listed 29 subjects as sectors of planning under the New Panchayat Raj dispensation. That is, since 1996, the decision-making in the area of rural development has been decentralised. The elected representatives often take area/location specific decisions. They are in need of maps on a large scale, particularly at the panchayat union and village panchayat levels. Thus, there is a vast scope for the use of geoinformatics facilitating the decision making process at various levels of decentralised planning.

Geographic Information System
The present scenario in India calls for mapping facilities which are capable of preparing maps at different levels of planning on different themes and as per the requirements of the users quickly and at low cost. This problem can be addressed by designing a Geographic Information System at district level with revenue level/village panchayat level data.

GIS is a computerised spatial information system capable of supplying data/information for different levels of planning. In GIS, the maps can be prepared quickly at a lower cost than the conventional manual mapping and updation is easier. It also permits the users to enter different types of data viz., satellite imageries, tabular data, and descriptive text, in a single coordinate system i.e. map. The Department of Rural Development of Gandhigram Rural Institute has made an attempt to design a GIS for planning and execution of rural development programmes at Vedasandur panchayat union.

GIS for Vedasandur Panchayat Union
The GIS for Vedasandur block, Tamil Nadu has been created with the use of IDRISI-I software of Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, USA. A list of maps required by the users at panchayat union level was prepared, based on the review of atlases, availability of data and requirements of data for making decisions on the 29 subjects specified under New Panchayat Raj System.

The maps required for the GIS were gathered from the maps published by the Survey of India, Survey and Land Records Department, National Informatics Center (NIC), Geology and Survey and Land Use Organisation. The needed statistical data were collected from different government departments functioning at the district level. The revenue village level data was used in this GIS. The maps were scanned, imported for on-screen digitisation in AutoCAD and exported in dxf format into IDRISI. A set of base layers was created and used in designing this GIS on a 1:50,000 scale.