Rural road management gets on fast track with GIS

Rural road management gets on fast track with GIS

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GIS is leading to effective management and monitoring of Prime Minister’s Rural Road Programmme for construction, improvement and maintenance of rural roads

Rural roads address connectivity and mobility; the important keys for reaching out and opening up opportunities. Recognising the crucial role of rural roads, Government of India had initiated a major programme named Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) – Prime Minister’s Rural Road Programme. PMGSY was launched on 25th December 2000 as a fully funded centrally sponsored scheme to provide all-weather road connectivity in rural areas of the country; with an aim of connecting all habitations with a population of 500 persons and above, with an exception of 250 and above in hill states, the tribal and the desert areas. The programme is executed under the umbrella of National Rural Roads Development Agency (NRRDA), Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India.

The e-governance group of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) was entrusted with developing a Management Information System (MIS) for PMGSY programme, which can handle data generated all over the country.  Later, the system has been enhanced and renamed as OMMAS (Online Management, Monitoring and Accounting System).
After the initial implementation of OMMS, the pressing need of a Geographic Information System (GIS) for efficient management and monitoring of PMGSY was understood. Accordingly, Geomatics Group of C-DAC was entrusted to develop a system to provide GIS extension to OMMS, on a pilot basis. Consequently, GIS-enabled Road Information Management and Monitoring System (GRIMMS) was developed. It includes Standalone (GRIMMS-S) and Web GIS (GRIMMS Web) applications. While the Web GIS version enables citizens to visualize and query road related information through the Internet; the standalone version helps to execute any user specific and database/compute intensive queries. GRIMMS was successfully implemented for the two pilot States of Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. GRIMMS Web is open for public and can be accessed from https://omms.nic.in/grimms.

GRIMMS Web 2
After the successful deployment of GRIMMS Web, many states showed keen interest in implementing the system. Odisha was first to join and then the Northeast States. With their contributions, the enhanced version, GRIMMS Web 2 (https://omms.nic.in/grimms), was developed. It is currently operational in the states of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Mizoram and Tripura. It is being implemented for Manipur and Sikkim States.
GRIMMS Web helps in presenting information in the form of maps and tables in an integrated manner for more usability, transparency and accountability. A principal objective of GRIMMS Web is effective management and monitoring of PMGSY for construction, improvement and maintenance of rural roads.  GRIMMS Web has been designed for effective online dissemination of selected maps/information/reports to a large number of users including various government departments and general public. This assists in improved developmental planning and public access to the progress of work under the government programme. The solutions designed and implemented in GRIMMS Web are directed towards comprehensive GIS-based road information, management, monitoring and planning of rural roads, which are very relevant for e-governance or, more precisely, g-governance.

Key features
GRIMMS Web has a number of desirable entities for the Government and the general public. It is a highly innovative and unique venture for g-governance, as it showcases events and projects in a transparent mode available to the current genre of internet users. It is one of the classic examples of smart governance having the following key features:
•    The system uses data from heterogeneous databases. It has been designed to have a live link with the database of OMMAS (developed and implemented before the GIS project was conceived). The attribute data is updated through OMMAS, and the changes are reflected on GRIMMS Web dynamically.
•    The only GIS system which successfully established live link with OMMAS database and operational for many years.
•    Dynamic map generation and query based on external MIS data.
•    GIS and MIS data updated and managed independently.
•    A first of its kind system available in government-based infrastructure sector of the country.
•    Allows users to access and query GIS enabled rural roads database on a Web browser.
•    Analysis is not limited to habitations and roads; it also provides relevant information on condition of roads, stage of construction, road length along with cost involved in the construction, etc.
•    Provides full transparency and information for the entire cycle of construction, right from proposed roads to cost/time overrun cases.
•    Provides administrative boundary and constituency information.
•    Provides tourist places information – a possible extension of the product for tourism promotion.
•    Provides information on other ancillary services available in or near a habitation and whether it is connected with an all-weather motorable road.
•    User friendly and open access for the public.

Data
While the spatial data, having only graphic information and IDs for each entity, is accessed from GIS data format, the non-spatial data is accessed from OMMAS database which is available in SQL Server 2000 for the entire country. All the states update the attribute data continuously as part of the OMMAS project. By using dynamic composite key, intrinsic GIS databases are efficiently linked to external database, even while the primary key is a composite key.

Scalability and sustainability
Sustainability of any model depends on its functionalities and usability. GRIMMS Web 2 fulfills both the criteria; and since the PMGSY mandate is uniform across the country, GRIMMS Web also has a high replication potential. Easy to use graphical user interface enable users to access information with least interaction. Hence, GRIMMS Web has immense potential for deployment to cover the entire Indian subcontinent.
While designing and implementing GRIMMS Web, a number of new service models were introduced for maximum utility and usage of the system. Some of these are as follows:
•    Public purpose: The entire project of GRIMMS Web was designed for heightened public purpose and information dissemination. It makes aware of the processes involved and the asset monitoring and management in a publicly open domain.
•    Transparency: GRIMMS Web advocates transparency to the maximum extent, independent of political control. While the processes are governed according to government rules and regulations, they are made transparent for proper understanding of the processes and the results obtained therein. The system displays the ground reality in crispiest form of web GIS available.
    Preserving assets for public interest: GRIMMS Web provides necessary information about the ownership of the assets of public services, in this case, chiefly roads. It not only provides ownership details but also provides the financial and others related information of the assets.  
•    Public confidence: GRIMMS Web provides a portal for transparent viewership of public assets and their projects. This increases public confidence in the services provided. GRIMMS Web has the facility to query projects based on time and/or cost overrun. Hence, public can easily find out the status of commitments assured to them.
•    Governance and accountability: As the entire system of GRIMMS Web promotes transparency, it increases the accountability of the persons responsible for the projects and hence more quality of work can be expected. Being in the public domain, governance of the same becomes easier in terms of management and monitoring.
•    Efficiency, innovation and enterprise: GRIMMS Web promotes efficient and fast retrieval of data and information. Use of robust tools and processes enabled by tightly integrated MIS promotes effective use of tools and processes. This in turn ensures quality and delivery excellence. Services are more closely aligned and customised as per the need of the client. Web GIS is not a new concept, but the way GRIMMS Web has amalgamated the features and bought the infrastructure sector in a new archetype, is novel. It has effectively utilised and optimised the resources and made the entire system highly enterprising.

The future
With more and more states coming under the umbrella of GRIMMS Web, it has all the makings of an inherent system to serve as the backbone for our infrastructure development. The uniqueness in system provides a technical edge over competitors. It is a cost effective, efficient, and user friendly g–governance solution. All these make GRIMMS Web an inherent and innovative medium to change the very base of infrastructure management and monitoring system in the country. The future of GRIMMS Web is based on how decision makers use this comprehensive and query intensive software to help them utilise the resources provided herein; and upgrading it to fulfil the modern needs and objectives.