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Panchayats become tech-savvy

Kozhikode: It seems that technology has come to the rescue of 50 grama panchayats in Kozhikode district. Integrated information on geographical features, ecosystem, natural and man-made resources of a region in the district is just a mouse-click away, thanks to the new initiative by the Integrated Rural Technology Centre (IRTC).

The rural bodies can now plan and prepare projects including their annual plans and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme effectively based on the integrated database that compiles available data on farm area.
M V Kiran, coordinator of web-based GIS project, IRTC, Mundoor, says that watershed-based master plan and panchayats resource map have already been uploaded to the websites of these panchayats with the support of GIS. This information helps the panchayats to plan the construction of check-dams, rain pits and watersheds in a better way.

Panchayats with Web GIS use the system to prepare a comprehensive and holistic long-term action plan including possible interventions at the plot level. The Panchayat Resource Maps (PRM), which is part of the web, enables planners to access micro-level database.

“Web GIS is a new technology used for data display and to access analysis and query functionality from a GIS Server over the internet or intranet,” said an official of IRTC. Interactivity, user-friendliness and platform-independent operation are some of the major advantages of Web GIS, IRTC officials said.

With the help of the free and open-source GIS software administrators can create, capture, store, manage, analyse, and visualise geographic data by merging cartography, statistical analysis, and database technology. This has speeded up the process of preparing action plans for soil and water conservation, improving agriculture productivity, livelihood support programmes and creation of durable assets. The Web GIS helps the local bodies to access and retrieve the micro-level data with a click to prepare their development plans. As data becomes obsolete quickly due to change in the land utilisation and urbanisation, it was difficult to update the huge map, used for watershed-based planning, said Kiran. IRTC officials say the panchayats were not able to effectively utilise the maps prepared owing to difficulty in retrieving and using the data from huge cloth mounted maps.

Identifying the difficulty of officials to update data on the web site, IRTC has decided to launch a training programme from September 22 to 24. Agriculture officers and MNREGS implementing officers will be trained on updation process in the first phase training from September 22 to 24. Elected representatives of the panchayats and chairpersons on development standing committees will be trained in the next phase to use the data more effectively, said Kiran.

Source: The Times of India