Chennai, India: Government officials in Tamil Nadu State, India, got GIS tool to manage the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Times of India reported. “Local panchayat presidents often say that desiltation in their areas have already been carried out and that there is no work for MNREGS beneficiaries,” said a state official. “Using GIS mapping, we have shown the exact amount of silt and encroachment that has taken place over the years, which may not be visible at the ground level.”
For this, the rural development department used satellite imagery provided by Anna University’s Institute of Remote Sensing using Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites. “We superimposed the maps that we got from them with old revenue department maps to spot siltation and encroachments,” he said. “These were then corroborated by field officers to check for any margin of error. Based on these maps, we will issue directives to all district administrations and when the works are completed, the changes will be incorporated in the digitised maps.”
Tamil Nadu may be one of the first few states to do this, said the official. “As far as I am aware, Andhra Pradesh state also started it but is yet to complete it,” he said.
The purpose of the mapping however, will go beyond merely monitoring MNREGS work. “Mapping of water bodies and channels this way will give a better picture of how the state’s waterways are connected,” said Hanish Chhabra, District Collector of Kancheepuram.
“Most of the revenue maps do not reflect changes in water courses at the ground level. With this mapping, we can select the work for MNREGS in a more scientific way and help preserve the water bodies,” he said. “This has also helped us identify water bodies requiring MNREGS work that were previously missed by the scanner,” pointed out M Balaji, District Collector of Virudhunagar.
A district official from Ramanathapuram said the mapping would help integrate inter-departmental tasks. “Work on water bodies is carried out by three departments,” he said. “For big tanks and water bodies, the PWD steps in, the small local ponds are taken care of under MNREGS and by the village administrations. This mapping would give all three organizations unified data with equal access. PWD and revenue departments have already been using these maps and the same will be done for MNREGS soon. With monsoons imminent, some of the works would be taken up on a priority basis.”
The state has been at this work for nearly a year now and mapping for all 12,524 villages across 32 districts in the state have been carried out, said the state official. “This entire exercise has cost us INR 27 lakh and is less expensive and time consuming than field level visits each time,” he said. “This will be repeated once in every five years.”
Source: Times of India