Geo-informatics to check graft in job scheme

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 24, 2013 10:20 hrs

Hyderabad, March 24 (IANS) The central government is planning to extensively use geo-informatics or monitoring of assets with the help of satellites to check graft in the rural job guarantee scheme, officials have said.

There have been widespread complaints about corruption in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) where the existing assets have been shown as newly created. The satellites will help track such malpractices.

The customised geo-informatics applications have been developed by the Centre for Geo-informatics Applications in Rural Development (C-GARD) at the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD).

The NIRD is the apex body for undertaking research, training and consultancy functions in the rural sector.

"We have been receiving fair amount of complaints regarding malpractices under the MGNREGS. In many cases there are complaints that existing assets... been shown as newly created," said V. Madhava Rao, chief of C-GARD.

"Using the customised geo-informatics, which use satellite imagery, even laymen can say if the assets claimed to be newly created, existed earlier. The system is foolproof and very effective in weeding out any malpractices," Rao told a conference recently.

Geo-informatics is a multi-disciplinary science that incorporates GIS or geographic information system, remote sensing, GPS or global positioning system and IT.

In addition, it makes use of geodesy, the science of measuring and monitoring the size and shape of the Earth, including its gravity field and determining the location of points on the Earth's surface, and photogrammetry or the science of making measurements from photographs, as well.

Rao said the successful use of the system in effective implementation and assets monitoring of the various rural development schemes in Andhra Pradesh led to officials taking notice of it.

"The ministry (rural development) officials were pleased at the use of geo-informatics and expressed their desire to use the technology in monitoring the schemes all over the country," said Rao.

Once the union rural development ministry okays the project, a number of geo-informatics centres would be set up across the country.

"At present we have five such centres with two in the pipeline. Once the project is improved, a number of centres would be required to be set up across the country," he said.

The C-GARD, which offers courses on geo-informatics, has also bagged projects to set up geo-informatics centres in five countries, including Nigeria. The centres would be set up at a cost of Rs.17 crore each, and will also train people in using the system.

Talking about various rural development schemes, Rao said the lack of trained personnel at panchayat and block levels was hampering the effective implementation of programmes.

"The schemes have not yielded the desired results because of lack of capacity creation. There is a huge lack of properly trained people especially at the block and panchayat levels to implement the projects."

Rao said the NIRD was in the process of introducing interactive distance learning classes to impart rural development training to the panchayat officials.

"Our aim is more and more capacity creation and we are in the process of introducing interactive distance classes so that we can train the rural officials who in turn can use the training to implement the projects effectively," added Rao.

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