Gujarat: Leading the nation through g-tech

Gujarat: Leading the nation through g-tech


Aditi Bhan
Asst Editor
[email protected]

Located in the western India, Gujarat has an area of 75,686 sq m with a coastline of 1,600 km. The state is bordered by Rajasthan to the north, Madhya Pradesh to the east, Maharashtra to the south, Pakistan’s province of Sindh to the north-west, and Arabian Sea to the southwest.

Gujarat has one of the fastest growing economies in the country. The Economist recently published an article wherein it compared Gujarat with Guangdong – the economic engine of China. The article further stated that since the state government has kept red tape to a minimum, does not ask for bribes, and does not interfere with entrepreneurial corporations, it has led to a booming entrepreneurial economy in the state.

Gujarat is also home to some of the largest businesses in India like Reliance Industries Limited. The company operates its oil refinery at Jamnagar, which is said to be the largest refinery in the world. Also, the world’s largest shipbreaking yard is located near Bhavnagar at Alang. It has two of the three Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals in the country (Dahej and Hazira) and two more terminals are proposed. It is the only state in the country to have state wide gas grid of 2,200 km, 98.86 per cent village connectivity with all‐weather roads, and all its villages have electricity connection with uninterrupted power supply. The state recorded the highest decadal agricultural growth rate of 10.97 per cent in the period 2000-01 to 2009-10. The agricultural produce includes cotton, dates, sugarcane, groundnuts (peanuts), milk and milk products. Industrial products include cement and petrol.

Gujarat is one of the leading states in the country when it comes to e-governance. It has OFC network of more than 50,000 km. Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN) connects 26 districts and 226 talukas (sub-districts) through 12,000 nodes. Under the project, e-Gram, all village panchayats in the state are connected through broadband and are equipped to provide a number of services to citizens like birth and death certificates, applications for various schemes, income certificates, etc. Also, Citizen Facilitation Centres have been set up at major centres of the state which connect the entire state from taluka level to district level including the gram panchayats. There are more than 9 lakh internet users in the state.

State Wide Attention on Grievances with Application of Technology (SWAGAT) – Under this project, Chief Minister Narendra Modi along with his department heads and the district representatives address the grievances of a common man through video conferencing on fourth thursday of every month. All the stakeholders involved are connected in real time, thus enabling people immediate solution to their problems. SWAGAT has been running successfully from 2003 and is now accessible in 225 sub-districts of the state. The programme has received awards like United Nations Public Service Award 2010 for improving transparency and accountability in the public service category.

One of the major steps towards building spatial infrastructure was creation and standardisation of database and integrating them with appropriate decisions support systems (DSS). Depending on the requirements of various departments, in-house utility software related to spatial DSS, spatial web applications and metadata, were created. Some of the applications developed for the purpose are:

Pragati: This GIS software is implemented all across the state and interacts in both languages – English and Gujarati. It has been found useful in near real-time viewing of data for surveillance, disaster mitigation and many other applications.

SDIS: A multipurpose metadata server, it is operationalised for IRS series of satellites.

Networking: Non spatial data in standard format is received through GSWAN and is converted into spatial form using in-house software such as ATLAS Generator. This way maps are produced in short time for policy makers or various agencies.

Health and Family Welfare Department
The department is responsible for overall well being of citizens of the state and was among the first ones to adopt geospatial technology. The technology has been successfully used in carrying out several programmes by the department:

1. IDSP (Integrated Diseases Surveillance Programme)
In 2001, under the World Health Organization (WHO) earthquake relief mission, an IDSP was implemented in the earthquake-affected regions of the Kutch district. The programme helped in early detection and thus prevention of outbreak of communicable diseases. Learning from that experience, the state government launched the programme, in phased manner, in all the 25 districts, 6 corporation and 6 government medical colleges. Selected large private/trust hospitals are also part of the reporting network. European Union has provided the financial support for the project.

Under the programme, a weekly web-based reporting system has been established in eight districts. On an average, 470 reporting units from these districts submit weekly statistics of 16 communicable diseases to the State Epidemic Cell. Since data is available online, it helps in strengthening the early warning system for preventing disease outbreaks.

2. eMamta (child and mother tracking project)
A pregnant woman is identified and enrolled under this project. She is then regularly monitored by an assigned doctor to keep a check on her pregnancy and health. Even after the birth of the child and until the baby is 5 years old, both are closely monitored to ensure their well-being. The duo is also provided with nutrition related guidance. The programme has considerably reduced mortality rates of both mother and child.

3. Vaccination monitoring programme
Under the programme, GIS maps were prepared for 24 districts of the state giving the vaccination status of diseases such as BCG, DPT, measles and polio. The districts covered include Ahemdabad, Amreli, Anand, Bharuch, Bhavnagar, BanasKantha, Dahod, Gandhinagar, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Kheda, Kutch, Mehsana, Narmada, Navsari, Patan, Panchmahal, Dang, Porbandar, Sabarkantha, Suredranagar, Surat, Vadodara and Valsad.

Forests and Environment Department:

1. GIS-based website
In order to create an environmental database of the state, Gujarat Ecology Commission under Forests and Environment Department, has developed a GIS-based website. The website provides more than 300 GIS based maps representing various parameters of environment, and about 2,000 tables. It contains information about the following:

    a) Land (agricultural production, soil salinity, soil erosion, watersheds, forests, wastelands, grasslands, etc) b) Water (surface water resources, ground water resources, irrigation, etc) c) Biodiversity (ecosystem diversity, genetic diversity, species diversity, conservation) d) Coastal and marine environment (fisheries, corals, mangroves, estuaries, ports/ harbours, etc) e) Industry (large, medium, small), f) Pollution (water, air etc) g) Government budget, plan expenditure and EAPs (Administrative setup, Policies, Programmes, Institutions, Infrastructure) h) Physical environment (climate, geology, geomorphology, oceanography, zonation, natural disasters, etc) i) Socio-economic (demography, livestock, economy (agriculture, fisheries, fodder etc) j) General information

2. GPS collars to monitor lions
Gujarat Forest Department in association with Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has been monitoring movement of lions by fitting radio collars with VHF (very high frequency) GPS and satellite uplink facility. The use of this technology has helped in identifying the corridors connecting Gir National Park with adjoining sanctuaries and forest areas. Based on this study, the areas around the Gir National Park have been identified by the department and these are being managed as part of the Greater Gir landscape.

These protective measures have led to a significant recovery of the big cat population. To evaluate the progress of this programme, a census was undertaken in April 2010. The census concluded that there has been an increase of 52 lions in the region compared to the last count in 2005.

3. Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Programme
The overall objective of this programme is to support the Government of India and selected states in developing and implementing a strategic management approach for the country’s coastal zones. This will aid in preserving the long-term productivity of the region for continued sustainable development and economic growth. The project involves the following:

Vulnerability and ecological mapping
It includes mapping of flood and erosional vulnerability and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) and delimitation of different categories of coastal zones to be regulated for conservation and protection against natural hazards.

National institution building and capacity strengthening
Under it, support will be provided to establish and operationalise a National Institute for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management, capacity building and strengthening of the Institute as well as MoEF. It would also involve developing relevant regulations and institutional setups guiding the linkages between the Centre and the states in order to develop the nationwide approach to coastal zone management.

Development and implementation of state-level approaches to ICZM
Under it, state-level approaches to ICZM have been developed and pilot projects are being implemented in certain geographical areas. Focus is on three selected states – Gujarat, Orissa and West Bengal. The Gulf of Kachchh has been identified as project area to implement the state level pilot investment in the state.

Major thrust areas for ICZM project include:

    a) Conservation and management of Marine National Park and Sanctuary b) Ensure livelihood security c) Pollution abatement d) Database creation e) Coastal water pollution monitoring f) Sewerage treatment for Jamnagar city

Revenue Department
Under National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP), every state is required to update and digitise its land records. The programme involves three layers of data that will be integrated on a GIS platform – spatial data from satellite imagery or aerial photography, maps of Survey of India and Forest Survey of India, and revenue records (cadastral maps and Record of Rights (RoR) details). All cadastral maps have to be digitised, and plot numbers and unique id assigned to each land parcel.

e-Dhara – Land records online
The state government has digitised all land records. E-dhara was launched to enable access and maintenance of village land records in an easy, transparent and secure manner to citizens. The project has been successfully implemented in all 26 districts and 225 talukas.

The government has now set up e-Dhara Kendras (e-DK) at Taluka Mamlatdar offices to take care of day-to-day activities of land records such as mutations and issue of RoR. The e-DK are linked with village panchayats through broadband (net) which enables farmers to get copies of their ROR from panchayat itself. [email protected] is operational in 24 districts, 225 talukas and almost all villages and is expanding.

The state has already set precedent for the country to follow. By providing robust infrastructure, bringing in transparency by way of e-governance, and healthy interaction between government and citizens, it is hardly surprising to see that the state is witnessing a booming economy and an improved lifestyle of its citizens.