Bengal Govt employing GPS & GIS to create a comprehensive map of the Sundarbans

The Bengal Government has started using GPS and GIS to create real-time interactive maps of the Sundarbans region. These technologies would help keep a ‘smart’ eye on the entire biosphere – forest cover, land use, illegal activities, etc.

Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based radio navigation system that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver while geographic information system (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and present spatial or geographic data. GIS accuracy depends upon source data, and it is here that the accuracy of GPS comes into use.

The surveillance system implemented by the Forest Department uses GPS to capture the data and GIS tools (softwares) to analyse that data. The information being collected, which will be on a continuous basis, is helping the Government to keep track of detailed data on forest cover (number and types of trees, their exact locations, even information on trees cut down) and human habitation, nature of an area, locations of coves and bays, etc. Importantly too, all data would be updated on a real-time basis.

The Forest Department officials are using these data along with the existing ground maps to create a comprehensive database of the region. This method of data compilation would eventually be used to cover the whole of Bengal.

The Sundarbans forest in Bengal comprises of the Matla, Raidighi, Ramganga, Namkhana, Bakkhali and Bhagabatpur forest ranges. The mangrove cover comprises of 77,243 hectares and the wildlife sanctuary, 60,000 hectares. Eco-tourism is permitted on an area comprising of a little more than 27,000 hectares.

The data is also being made available for use by other departments. According to the Chief Conservator of Forests, Bengal, who is overseeing the whole project, the data would be a big help for departments like Tourism and Land and Land Reforms.


Mobile Monitoring System using GIS to cover all panchayats in Bengal

The West Bengal Government is setting up Mobile Monitoring System using GIS for keeping an eye on the works being done at all the panchayats. This android phone-based monitoring system is already in place in one thousand panchayats and will be applicable within one year in the rest 2349 panchayats.

Through this system, the Panchayat Minister and the officials of the State Secretariat at Nabanna will be able to monitor the works of the district officials based in the rural areas.

The State Government will provide android-based mobile phones to all the district officials responsible for panchayat development. The officers of the panchayat department are now visiting rural areas to train the panchayat workers to upload the developmental progress details through their mobile phones every 15 days.

From now on, the rural officials have to upload pictures of every projects undertaken by the panchayats at regular intervals, including those of Gram Sabhas. The pictures and records will be uploaded on the Panchayat department website and will thus be accessible from any part of the world.

Bengal panchayats being brought under GIS

Digital Rural Bengal! Yes and it is not a story but reality. All what it needed is a click of a mouse and details of every project in each village and the progress thereof will be available at one go. This is known as ‘Geophysical Information System’ (GIS). The Department of Panchayat Affairs and Rural Development, Govt of West Bengal is developing a website with GIS and along with Management Information System (MIS) wherein the common man with a click of a mouse will come to know the progress of development work being done in the villages of West Bengal.

At the initial stage 3354 villages of the State have been selected to be brought under this facility. Digital mapping and scaling have also started to carry this out. The project is being done with the help of World Bank under the scheme – ‘Institutional Strengthening of Gram Panchayats’ (ISGP). Gradually all Gram Panchayats of West Bengal will be covered under this scheme.

This will not only ensure transparency but also will keep the public updated about each project and the money spent towards the same. To make the system easily accessible the Panchayat Department is distributing android phones to the Panchayat workers.

The website will give details of the following:

• Every stage of the progress of the project will be filmed and put up for the public to view

• Money spent at every stage will be given

• Seven days prior to the completion inspection call will be sent out to the concerned employees who can film and put up the pictures and the expenses incurred

• After the work is over, the budget vis-a-vis actual expenses will be given for all to know the deviation, if any.

This scheme has been appreciated and applauded in all India Level. World renowned think-tank ‘Skoch Development Foundation’ will hand over certificate of appreciation to West Bengal at a seminar on 20-21st March, 2015.