India: The reports of large-scale anomalies in construction and selection of site for setting up check dams in Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh (UP), India, have prompted the UP state rural development department to take the help of GIS mapping technology for doing a reality check of the project.
The check dams, around 300 of them, were constructed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for watershed management in the area, but have been under scanner since reports of various kinds of anomalies surfaced. The anomalies range from shoddy construction work to non-feasibility of the check dams because of their locations. Experts said that at some places the required distance between two check dams have not been maintained, while at some other places there are four such dams in a radius of 10 km, thereby undermining their usefulness in conserving rainwater. Besides the use of GIS mapping, the department will appoint an independent agency — Maharashtra-based Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) — to conduct a manual survey of the dams. Lucknow-based Remote Sensing Applications Centre (RSAC) has been entrusted with the task of doing the GIS mapping of the NREGS sites in the district.
“This will actually serve as the most foolproof option to check the tasks being done. At first, we will get the GIS maps of the dam sites, which will be then given to the independent agency for doing a ground survey and feasibility check,” Manoj Kumar Singh, Secretary (Rural Development), told The Indian Express.
Singh added that the need for the WOTR volunteers to do the ground check is because a satellite map may not present the best picture when it comes to determining the feasibility.
According to a senior scientist of RSAC, the process of mapping all the given sites will take approximately a month. “We will, however, try to submit our report to the department at the earliest,” the scientist added.
Sonbhadra district in eastern Uttar Pradesh happens to be one of the highest spenders of the Centre’s MGNREGS funds, as around INR 232 crore have already been spent in the district.
The department feels that if the GIS mapping followed by ground survey prove effective in monitoring the projects, then it would also be employed to survey work in Bundelkhand region. “We are waiting to see the results of this exercise,” said a senior official.
Source: Indian Express