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Problem & prospects of adopting Geogrpahical Information System in urban development

Tapas Ghatak
Senior Geophysicist, Environment Cell, Calcutta Metropolitan
Development Authority. Govt. of West Bengal


A Geographical Information System is one of the latest addition in the field of information based management system and will play an important role in the next decades. Initially, the use of GIS was restricted in the Macro Level Planning like Forest Cover, Land Use, Weather Forecasting etc. In these fields, availability of maps and data was comparatively easier and required a large scale maps (1:50,000 or more). Moreover, available software needed a costly Work Station for its operation, which kept common planner away from using Geographical Information System for their daily use. With the change of time and need, the present day Geographical Information System are P.C. compatible and accepting major operation has become relatively simpler. A few problems remains for the system for an wider use. The areas were G.I.S. can be adopted for daily use can broadly be divided in two groups with distinct difference in applicable areas and their users. These are:
  1. Base line information for planners in development authorities which will require database in the following areas : mouza maps, Police stations maps, having demographic information like Population, education, mouzawise crop pattern and annual production information, infrastructures maps with present status and projected future, specific development program maps, legal status of acquiring lands etc. For this, they must be provided with resources like computers with high hard disk capacity and good graphical capabilities, high quality plotters, GIS software, persons with computer degree or diploma, Net Working option and proper financial back up. These will be requiring an initial investment of 15 to 18 lacs at present per G.I.S. operating centre.


  2. The detailed planning and for daily execution in the Municipal local bodies and Gram Panchayet: This will need ward maps having demographic details, census details, holding with basic structures, sources of revenue, infrastructures maps of water supply net work and sources,transportation net work, specific facilities and other amenities, seweage & drainage facilities, future development programmes, natural and technololgical hazard areas etc. The resources which will be require for these areas are : computers with high capacity hard disk and good graphical capabilities, high quality plotters and G.I.S. software as central facilities(which could be shared by few municipalities), persons with computer degree or diploma. This will require about Rs. One lack of initial investment and around Rs.20,000/-to Rs. 50,000/- of monthly financial expenditure.
While working in an Urban Development Authority, its become easier to mobilise such amount of financial and human resources for G.I.S. development in the Development Authoority for its planning as well as execution of work.But looking towards the future planning related with 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment, wherein the local bodies like Municipalities and Panchayets will require to have their planning for themselves, it is essential so that these areas are strengthened with the modern technologies and facilities. While trying to do such exercise , presently the absence of skilled persons of the Municipalities and the non availability of proper maps ("sometimes even the present holding map of a municipality are not in proper order"). While synthesising these available data the problems for adopting the G.I.S. for the local bodies, it is seen that no compatible hardware for using G.I.S. are presently available in most of the municipalities, nor they have proper knowledge for independent use of G.I.S. No provision for keeping a trained computer person for G.I.S. alone is kept in any of the municipalities or the Gram Panchayets. Funds to buy hardware & software its not kept in their budget. Either lack of availability of the infrastructural maps in the municipal level is posing a great problem for adopting these technology. All these together they are likely to be dependent on the numerous vendors trying to take away the job just for a business promotion and there is fear of incomplete or half-compolete G.I.S. system with the local bodies.

As this problems are being faced in most of the local bodies under Urban Sectors, it will be wiser to create a centralised facility within the Urban Development Sectors put initially the Geograpghical Information System based planning for all these local bodies, so that within a few years they in a position to handle this important area for future independently.


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