Spatial technologies play a key role in generating timely and reliable information
for planning and decision-making at all levels. The use of GIS for a micro administrative
unit for planning and implementation was tested in an Action Research Project in
one of the panchayats in India, where the knowledge base is developed up to cadastral
level (land parcel level) and the house hold socio economic data is embedded on
this layer on a GIS platform, with all graphic features of house type and house
hold linked, to enable stakeholders take decisions in a dynamic mode.
Even though it is widely recognized that the Geographic Information System (GIS)
has the capacity to analyze both spatial and temporal data on a cost effective manner
for effective planning and management, its application at the micro level for participatory
planning and management is limited. In this context an Action Research Project was
taken up at the Panchayat level by the National Institute of Rural Development where
efforts were made to develop an interactive package for participatory management
at the panchayat level.
An attempt has been made to actually apply the GIS Package, simple, user friendly,
customized, local need based, interactive and can be handled by the local youth
and Gram Panchayat functionaries. It could be called Panchayat GIS, which has all
inbuilt features of various decisions at he Gram Panchayat level integrating various
layers of information both spatial and attribute pertaining to the Villivalam Gram
The study area consists of entire Villivalam Gram Panchayat. It is created using
the geographical extents of the Gram Panchayat and true origin (74o N
21o E) of the Walijabad Block of Kanchipuram District of the State of
The Gram Panchayat as three (3) villages namely Villivalam, Koyambakam and Pandyan.
The study area chosen was the Villivalam Gram Panchayat of Wallijabad Block of Kanchipuram
District, Tamil Nadu State, a Southern State in India.
The purpose was to give appropriate development initiatives in planning, monitoring
and projectisation by the local people of Villivalam Gram Panchayat and the local
bodies, for developing a reliable database and take decisions based on the same.
Development of an Interactive GIS Package for these people is a modest attempt to
take Spatial Technologies and ICT to the door steps of the local people to reap
benefits of advanced technologies at the lowest level, making GIS application as
a mass movement.
The base data forms the attribute database and the maps, satellite imagery, Ariel
photographs etc spatial database. These databases are integrated in a GIS platform
and an information system is developed.
The developed information system is embedded with query facilities so as to make
it interactive. The presentation is developed in GIS Map Objects 2.30 Version Software
and customisation is being made through capabilities of Map Object GIS Software
and Visual Basic 6.0.
Flexibility is built in the Interactive GIS Village Plan to adapt to new situations
and environments. The pilot software is being provided to the Villivalam Gram Panchayat
and the GP functionary and the village youth are trained to use the same.
A group of youth is specially trained at SIRD, Tamil Nadu in computer skills and
they are very enthusiastic in operating and maintaining the same.
Four Computers are being donated by NIRD to this erstwhile Action Research Village
of NIRD, where lot of development activities has been brought by participatory mode
by SIRD, Tamilnadu and the NIRD.
Tamil Language interface is being attempted and the Gram Panchayat GIS Package is
expected to showcase the Government, NGO and Local Bodies for their daily activities,
reporting, decision making, data needs and other allied activities.
A Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) exercise was carried on to understand the
priorities and needs of the people of Villivalam Gram Panchayat. The PRA Resource
Map showed good understanding of people about their Gram Panchayat spatial spread,
resources, infrastructure, Governmental programmes and projects and their neighbourhood.
The entry level activity taken up was information on education, tutorials, admission,
coaching, Question Banks, Career prospects, skill development and related aspects.
The database on the same was built up from existing database of the Gram Panchayat,
Walijabad Block and Kanchipuram District information base. This was further consolidated
with Tamilnadu Sate and other web based materials making it accessible for youth,
students, Panchayat Factionaries and others.
Topo Sheet of the district and cadastre map of Villivalam including that of Koyanbakam
and Pandyan was geo-coded. Satellite imagery of Resource Sat P6 both LISS III and
PAN were obtained and merged and overlaid on the base vector layer with draping.
Various relational database of the Gram Panchayat were integrated with the base
vector layer and analysis based on the Gram Panchayat day to day decision requirements
were attempted for use by the Panchayat for local level application.
The GIS, Image Processing and other allied Software used are Arc Info 9.0, Arc View
3.2, Map Object 2.0 and Visual Basic 6.0, for developing the Interactive GIS for
Gram Panchayat Planning.
The output on the Window Screen is placed for visualizing the Software capabilities
and outcomes. The required data format for inputting and building up of database
are placed in the window format by Visual Basic and Map Object capabiities. The
Software has the capabilities to update database and the files are saved in new
databases, which facilitates comparison of data over time period, for studying the
impact of schemes or programmes or development initiatives and in detection of changes.
The land holding and survey numbers are integrated with the house door numbers for
exact identification of each person and household for detail database pertaining
to all aspect of demography viz. age, sex, education, occupation etc, asset structure,
income particulars, land use and land cover particulars from satellite imageries
and cadastre, and other useful information like social status, ration card, marital
status and related data.
The photographs of each household family member are embedded with the house at the
back drop. The profile of each household is available. The Villivalam Gram Panchayat
profile with graphics is also available at Gram Panchayat layer.
All formats are placed in window format for ease in use and understanding at the
local level with Visual Basic 6.0 Software.
With a Training of one day, a person with high school qualification can operate
the software and maintain the same. Any new parameters can be added and the software
can be upgraded from time to time based on the need of the time, without losing
The Village GIS has been developed using ArcGIS 9.0, Map Objects 3.0 and VISUAL
BASIC 6.0 working under WINDOWS. A standard Pentium IV system would suffice the
hardware requirement for its implementation. The following are some of the salient
features of Village GIS:
Thematic maps are often required to provide decision support information for spatial
planning in several key areas. Village GIS facilitates efficient generation and
display of thematic maps directly by the end user to enable him perform situation
analysis and gain an insight for proper decision-making. It also supports map tool
bar (zoom, pan) on any thematic map.
The Gam Panchayat profile is a template containing a set of predefined attributes
of the village (village name, Panchayat name, population details, availability of
facilities etc.) User can view the profile of any specific sector by clicking on
the sector in the map or by choosing the desired item from the Gram Panchayat menu
list displayed on the screen.
Village GIS provides an interactive and user-friendly interface and it does not
require any GIS expertise for its operation. It requires about 4~5 hours of learning
time and could be thus easily deployed in the rural areas where the operating personnel
are usually novices.
Village GIS has been customized for facility planning and management for the Villivalam
Gram Panchayat in Walijabad Block of Kancipuram District of Tamilnadu State. Although
Village GIS can support a wide range of applications due to its open-ended design,
it is presently being contemplated for use for the following applications.
The striking revelations in this study is the fact that local people are greatly
enthusiastic in adapting to new technology and new way of working together and takes
lot of interest in knowing new ways of doing things.
Secondly the people at the local level rise above political, economic and social
affiliations, and express their solidarity in effecting the new tools and technology
in their day-to-day work.
The women participation was quite encouraging and they come forward for propagating
the use and adoptability to new way of doing things.
The younger mass feels social upheaval and increase in their social status in exposure
and use of new IT Tools at the local level.
The people’s representatives give all encouragement and support and stand by the
people in introduction of new technology and in new ways of doing things, irrespective
of their political affiliations.
The district and local administration takes great interest in introducing new IT
Tools and request development of these tools with inbuilt functionality of day to
day administrative use at all level, in improving their performance and effectiveness
and express their support and cooperation in any attempt in this regards.
The Interactive GIS developed at the Gram Panchayat can be replicated. There are
also possibilities and potential available for adding additional features and in
making it wide spectrum software.
The database required may vary depending on the type of problem faced in a particular
area. The level of social mobilization needed to ensure participation in data collection
and analysis can also vary from place to place, which can be handled by the software
with necessary modifications.
Geographic information systems are being integrated in communities to serve many
purposes, and with various degrees of effectiveness. The contribution in this pilot
project was to provide a broad view of the current state of Village GIS practice
in the country. The critical lessons learnt from this pilot project can be summarized
Time has changed. When we remember of the initial days when the country had gone
for the bank, railway, airlines and a host of other computerization, there was stiff
resistance and experts apprehended that such a measure would jeopardize the employment
situation in the country and displace large number of people from securing employment.
Today, all know, how embedded the system of computerization everywhere in Government,
Banking, Airlines, Railways and in all walks of life, economy and society.
Similarly GIS would bring a sea change in the outlook and thinking of the people,
policy makers, experts and elected representatives, when stabilized with the system.
The transition would result beneficial outcome sooner or later.
Many countries namely Qatar, Singapore, Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Canada and
a host of other countries have faced enormous amount of teething problems at the
beginning but now, everything is so simple, reliable, robust and happening everywhere.
Pilots like the Village GIS have inherent significance from the point of decentralized
governance and Constitutional Mandate of empowering people at local level. There
can’t be a better tool than GIS for providing a powerful decision support system
to the people to take their own decisions, analyze situations, assess potentials,
plan for future, model and simulate and generate scenarios.
Technology is enshaping mankind and with rapid strides of development in GIS Software
and in the Information and Communication Technologies, and with price slashing in
cascades, not only GIS will be an affordable tool in the hands of local people but
would usher an integrated end to end solution based system for local bodies, NGOs,
Government Departments, and people at large.
GIS with GPS, Internet connectivity, high resolution satellite imageries and attribute
data can revolutionize the entire thinking process of mankind in coming years.
Rather than e-governance, it would be possible to implement G-Governance (GIS Governance)
at all levels, anytime, any place, making information flow and decision making a
real time dynamic process ensuring total participation and involvement of local
The user friendly interactive GIS for a micro administrative unit have helped in
ensuring better participation of the stakeholders in decision making. The variation
in the level of education of the community was bridged by pictorial representation
of data. The project helped in empowerment of the community and generated land literacy.
User friendly interactive GIS data base generated at a micro administrative unit
(panchayat) can improve the efficiency of administration, improve resource mobilization
and help in informed decision making.
The software being simple and customized and open for modifications holds lot of
promise for local level applications. The strong aspect of this software is the
capabilities of liking wide graphic aspects, like photographs, audios, videos, imageries
and analyzed maps etc , which project field realities and help taking appropriate
decision making, by people themselves.
Village GIS is a GIS based Gram Panchayat Planning system, which has all the data
formats to build up data inventory, link graphics, identify locational features,
generate various graphic analysis for decision making and shows information both
horizontal and vertical.
Village GIS is expected to usher in the desired transparency and easiness in the
Gram Panchayat planning and enable a faster response to the changing ground realities
in the development planning, owing to its in-built scientific approach. It demonstrates
that the GIS approach can provide cost effective solutions for local level planning
in rural areas, and help bring the benefits of Spatial Technologies to the rural
GIS technology is more useful to developing countries since many issues of development
relate to large scale problems requiring integration of large spatial dataset. The
availability of remotely sensed data and other national and international databases
can facilitate action and GIS have the potential to contribute positively.
With local knowledge and local control, accountability set in where a GIS system
could direct at real needs, and the design relevant to local conditions. Sensitising,
Training and education village Youth, elders, Gram Panchayat functionaries and involvement
of women, particularly from SHGs work towards sustainable GIS systems at local levels.
GIS is a tool of power. Like all geographical information, GIS has the potential
to reduce social inequities or to exacerbate them, within regions. GIS can be subversive
or it can empower techno-elite (Clark and Worobec 1996). But Yapa (1991, 52) argues
that GIS may also be an instrument for ‘discovering’ local resources contextually
and that the full implementation of appropriate technology is not possible without
access to a GIS because it is the knowledge of the region (and the ability of the
GIS to enhance this knowledge) that makes appropriate technology a viable alternative
to the current modes of development.
GIS could become a tool for empowerment, decision alternatives, scenarios, modeling,
what if analysis, locational and spatial spread analysis and an integrating tool
for interfacing all information for synthesis, which can be a very potential tool
for Gram Panchayat Planning and with the changing Map Policy of Government, GIS
has come a long way and be an integral part of our life, administration, policies
In a global thinking and technology subservient to mankind in a global thinking
and technology subservient to mankind, GIS could become a tool in the service of
the poor rather than a technological instrument for their control. To that end,
GIS and ICT and other spatial technology tools need to converge and emerge as powerful
application tools for wider use at all levels, particularly at local or cadastral
level, to take the benefit of technology to the door step of the poorest of the
poor, to empower the people for making their lives better, livable and for leading
a life with quality inputs for sustenance.
Survey numbers of land parcel integrated with household and house numbers for a
integrated information system at local level.
Satellite imagery of the study area showing land use and land cover and river basin.
A Screen Shot in the Village GIS Software with detail Window Display format.
Villivalam Gram Panchayat Layout and Village GIS interface for interactivity.
National Institute of Rural Development,