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Union Ministry’s Stall at G20 Venue showcases use of GIS and other IT Tools

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Kottayam (Kerala): A stall has been installed by the Union Ministry of Rural Development to showcase the use of GIS and IT initiatives for the planning and monitoring of central government schemes such as PMGSY and MGNREGA at the Second G-20 Development Working Group Meeting at Kumarakom here from April 6-9, 2023.

A team of officials led by Pradeep Agrawal, Director, NRIDA, MoRD is leading the activities at the Stall. Several delegates of the G20 meeting have visited the Stall and expressed an interest to use such technologies in the area of infrastructure development in their own countries.

The Union Ministry of Rural Development has been tasked with undertaking interventions for integrated and sustainable rural development of India’s 800 million rural population. The Ministry focuses on skilling rural youth, increasing livelihood opportunities, empowering rural women and creating essential rural infrastructure.

Delivering welfare at this scale requires the intensive use of ICT and emerging technologies, with an emphasis on evidence-based decision-making and transparency.

The Ministry relies heavily on GIS and remote-sensing technologies for evidence-based planning and monitoring across all its endeavours. To facilitate planning, implementation and monitoring of rural welfare delivery across housing, roads, and other assets, the Ministry has developed rich and reliable GIS data sets, tools and algorithms.

For example, GIS is heavily utilized to ensure rural connectivity. To overcome the lack of rural road usage data across the 4 million km of rural road networks, the Ministry developed its own algorithm, Trace Maps, to simulate traffic from 1 million rural habitations to their nearby schools, hospitals, and markets.

This algorithm was then used to plan investments worth 10 billion USD. Additionally, every road proposal is inspected for its utility on satellite imagery, along with over 20 additional layers, such as forests, water bodies and facilities. Furthermore, every bridge and road constructed to date have been digitized and inventoried.

Currently, more than 1000 active users, from block to State level officers, utilize the system for data collection, updations and decision-making processes.

The Ministry’s mandate also includes building 40 million houses for people living in temporary shelters and for the homeless. Every house constructed under this programme is geo-tagged with photographs from planning to various stages of construction and linked with the release of subsequent instalments of financial assistance to the rural beneficiary.

The rural employment scheme, under this Ministry, is one of the largest wages-for-work social-security programmes in the world. Government funds and local village labour are utilized to develop beneficial rural assets such as ponds, land development, plantations, school buildings and compost pits in each village.

To ensure holistic selection of assets, GIS-based village master plans have been developed across all villages. Once selected, each asset is monitored through geo-tagged photographs to capture various stages of its development.

To boost the use of GIS at the last mile, GIS officers have also been deployed across local offices. All rural infrastructure spatial data is also becoming a part of GatiShakti which is a whole of government effort for creating an integrated National Infrastructure Master Plan.

Further, in an effort to promote transparency and evidence-based decision-making, the Ministry has released most of its data-sets in the public domain as Digital Public Goods.

These unique open data-sets include geo-tagged information on more than 800,000 socio-economic facilities such as markets, schools, health centers, Gram Mandis and banks, and also the location of 1 million rural settlements, etc.

These open data-sets can revolutionize, increase innovation and foster rural policy research, which will help the government’s agenda of doubling farmers’ income, boosting the rural economy, and making India self-reliant.

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