On 15th November 2004, the Panchayats and Rural Development Department, Government of West Bengal released Gram Panchayat GIS of West Bengal on the web in collaboration with Riddhi Management Services Pvt. Ltd. (a corporate house with a corporate social responsibility angle who are also GIS partners of Registrar General of India for Census GIS of India and Census of West Bengal).
The GIS can now be easily accessed from the Panchayats and Rural Development website www.wbprd.nic.in and an independent website www.trendswestbengal.org
The system was inaugurated by the Minister of Panchayats, Government of West Bengal, Dr. Surya Kanta Mishra. Policy planners from different government departments, researchers and representatives from different international and national development organisations also attended the programme. Dr. Satish B. Agnihotri, Secretary, Woman and Child Development Department, Government of Orissa was the special guest of the occasion. Shri. Pradip Bhattacharya, Director, Administrative Training Institute; Shri Vikram Sen, Director, Census Operations, Govt. of West Bengal and Dr. M.N.Roy, Secretary, Panchayats and rural development Department, Government of West Bengal also spoke on the importance of GIS in policy planning at the village level and community participation in developmental initiatives.
The importance of Gram Panchayat GIS can be enumerated in the following ways-
· For district level planning it offers the optimum level of aggregation of information; villages are too many, blocks are too few.
· Second, being an important tier of the Panchayat Raj system, the Gram Panchayats are entitled to know as to where do they stand vis-à-vis their other counterparts.
· Finally, with the district level census data being available from the Registrar General of India’s web site (www.censusindiamaps.net) and the village level data from the Census Office of West Bengal in CDs titled ‘West Bengal- A Census View’-Gram Panchayat – GIS provides the ‘missing link’. More important than this is that the Panchayats will be able to port their data into this system on a regular basis instead of keeping it static, based on just the 2001 census information.