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GIS is a unique tool for RD

B. K. Sinha
Director General

Geospatial technologies are redefining planning and management in various sectors. What are your views on its use and contribution to the development of rural sector?
India has taken great strides in IT and space science ushering numerous applications in rural sector. These include applications in waste land development, change detection, natural resources management, watershed delineation, disaster management and applications in agriculture for crop acreage estimation, crop condition assessment and change detection. These applications proved beyond doubt the potential of geoinformatics in rural sector.
The technology is poised to contribute to the decentralised governance under the Panchayat Raj system, micro level planning and decision making for development alternatives at local level. LIS is evolving to be the most important technology to bring in land reforms and there by contributing to rural development.

How has been geospatial technology supporting and contributing for the overall vision and mission of National Institute of Rural Development?
The National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) has been spearheading the task of imparting knowledge and enhancing the skills of development functionaries. It has played an instrumental role in the effective and efficient implementation of rural development programmes and policies, in improving the quality of rural life, in addressing the basic needs, income and employment generation and livelihood support for people below the poverty line.
Geospatial technologies have been playing a key role in decision support. It is an effective visualisation tool for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of rural development programmes and capturing the visible development at grassroots level, which helps in identifying priority areas and hotspots. Geospatial technology has been playing a key role in the vision and mission of NIRD.

What is your vision for geospatial technology usage in the context of rural development in the country?
Geospatial technology is expected to get synonymous with rural development planning and implementation for improving the governance and delivery.
This technology will be widely used in land information system, village level planning, infrastructure planning, disaster management, sectoral planning in agriculture, water and land resources areas. Watershed and NREGA programmes will widely use this technology in the future.

To what extent you feel that this technology intervention could bring a change in the quality of life of a common man and the society in rural India?
Rural development programmes aim at improving the quality of life by providing gainful employment and income opportunities thereby reducing poverty. Geospatial technology helps in the optimum utilisation of resources, alternative decision making, productive use of land and water resources all the areas which are closely linked with the lives of the common man, which could boost economic development, improve employment avenues and generate more resources in the rural areas. High resolution imagery from the satellites which have the capability to capture every inch of the earth will be a vital information base for village level planning, bringing development to the grassroots.

What potential do you find regarding the scalability of using geospatial technologies keeping in mind the diversity and uniqueness of each state and district in India and also the issues of interoperability among various datasets?
Rural development is an interdisciplinary field where scalability is an important factor. The uniqueness of geospatial technology neutralises the impact of diversity and facilitates integration of numerous databases from a variety of sources.
The potential of geospatial technologies seems to be immense in rural development be it at the national, regional or at the micro level.