Experts press for g-tech for national development

Experts press for g-tech for national development


Hyderabad, India: The day-long session on national development held on the third and final day of the India Geospatial Forum 2013 in Hyderabad threw up some interesting concepts and questions. While speakers across sectors – government and private, users and solution providers – agreed that geospatial technology helped in planning for mega projects and areas like disaster management and risk reduction, urban planning, rural development and even planning and building infrastructure, some fundamental issues like lack of clear and coherent policies and guidelines, capacity building among the line department officials and easy availability of good, detailed maps was also part of most spearkers’ agenda.

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Director General Dr R.S. Sharma, while presenting the objective and mission of the project, called on the industry to look into how geospatial technology can be used to create applications based on the massive data the Authority would be generating. Detailing the use of geospatial technology such as GIS and Google maps to give location of UAIDAI centres and GPS devices in enrolment kits, Dr Sharma also urged the industry and experts to guide the Authority about the areas where this technology can further be used.

The National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) is using this technology extensively to identify and plug the leakages in rural development programmes. Giving details, NIRD Director General Dr M.V. Rao said many a times there were complaints that funds sanctioned for a particular project has been utilised yet no work has been done, or in some cases, old work has been shown as new job done. “In such cases, we use NRSC imagery to authenticate whether a particular piece of work for which the funds were sanctioned has been done or not.”

Dr Rao also urged the private players to come forward and create easy-to-use applications so that the technology percolates down to the bottom of the pyramid. “Technology should not frighten us. Imagine a gram panchayat sarpanch using this technology to find out about cropping pattern, soil and watershed management etc. We need ground-level applications. Private players should come up with low-cost apps for the poorest of the poor.”

NIRD has established village GIS and there are several models currently in place in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and some other states. The department is also opening geoinformatics centre in 11 villages.

Dr Rao’s invitation for collaboration got immediate response from Purshottam Reddy, Director, Department of Town Planning (DTP), Andhra Pradesh, who offered to tie up with NIRD for development activities of the state government. Reddy, who spoke next, highlighted areas where the town planning department was using geospatial technology.

Atul Kumar, Chief General Manager of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), said highways are main artery for any development process. National highways in India comprise 2% of the total road network and carry 40% traffic. Under the National Highways Development Project, which was launched in 1998 to upgrade, rehabilitate and widen major highways in India, NHAI has extensively used GIS, GPS and remote sensing technologies in timely and effective monitoring of construction and maintenance of quality and efficacy of the highways. “Information and computer technology with cutting edge space and geospatial technology in association with latest gadgets like GPS-enabled camera can be a big help in our work,” he said. Satellite imagery is used for determining current status and progress of work, evaluating work and close monitoring. GIS maps are useful in land acquisition along the highways for construction of road widening, bypass purposes and relocation and rehabilitation of affected people.

The Department of Land records, which is planning to plans to cover all 600-plus districts under National Land Records Management Programme (NLRMP), is also looking at extensive use of geospatial technology for putting in place a system of real-time land records, automated mutation process, single window system for all services, and integration between textual and spatial records. The DLT is targeting full digitisation of land records, including GIS maps, by the end of the XII Five Year Plan and is planning interconnectivity between land records and registration, and a presumptive title to a conclusive title system.

DLR Director Charanjit Singh said so far a total of 5,470 tehsils have been computerised and cadastral maps of 5 lakh villages have been completed. He also urged the private sector to come forward so that the department could fully leverage the benefits of the latest technology. “No planning can be done unless every parcel of land in our country has been mapped,” he said. Pressing home the need for proper land records, Singh gave the example of the Nano case, where the Tatas pulled out of Singur in West Bengal in 2008 following huge protests over land acquisition. Within 72 hours, the Gujarat government had earmarked the land for the Nano project. “This was possible because land records have been updated and properly mapped in Guajarat. The government knows exact details of each parcel of land.”

Praising the Karnataka model of Bhoomi-Kaveri system, Singh said the state government had collected Rs 23 crore as user fee after putting this system in place. The integration of Bhoomi (land records) and Kaveri (registration) has cut out fraudulent deals. Further, this system is being integrated with banks for speedy mortgage and loan disbursement.

G. Chandrasekhar of Infosys detailed on the company’s experience of putting in place the system for Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (R-APDRP) in Karnataka and underlined its benefits. The project to serve a total of 6 million consumers was one of the biggest globally in this scale and Infosys leveraged the strengths and benefits of geospatial technology at every step – GIS mapping of the areas, door-to-door surveys, GIS-based consumer indexing and asset mapping. Another important module was the meter data acquisition which will be integrated with commercial modules like meter billing and collections. Once this system is fully functional, this will help in automation of the entire power distribution system in the state ushering in speedy grievance redressal and consumer satisfaction on one hand, and cutting down distribution losses on the other.

Survey of India (SOI) Director S.K. Sinha underlined how the agency had used latest cutting-edge technology in the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project. Under this five-year, World Bank-funded project, SOI is mapping and delineating the hazard line for the mainland coast of India. SOI has prepared the base map up to a maximum distance of 7 km from the shoreline on 1:10,000 scale. Sinha shared that even though the map was of much scale, but due to security reasons, it has been limited to 1:10,000. The agency has also created a 3D elevation model based on photogrammetry. Based on these, the flood line will be generated.

Sandeep Goyal, senior scientist and head of Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technology explained how the council is spearheading the use of geospatial technology in the state. MPCST is the nodal agency for all science and technology related activities in the state has been encouraging use of GIS and remote sensing in areas like watershed management, mapping of tribal schools and reconstruction of ancient historical structures. The centre has also helped prepare the feasibility study for the nuclear power plant to come up Chulka in Mandla district. “Madhya Pradesh was the first state to identify land and provide the site for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India’s plan to set up nuclear power plants across the country,” said Goyal. The state could also provide a prompt environment clearance, sectoral map with population details, contouring level for planning etc by use of geospatial technology.

Source: Our Correspondent

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