With the help of ISRO, the central government may rid the MGNREGA of its most well known characteristic—corruption.
In a move that would substantially increase the accountability and transparency of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) National Remote Sensing Centre has successfully geo-tagged and publicly listed 10 million assets.
Based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Department of Rural Development, the MoRD, New Delhi and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), ISRO, Hyderabad, in June last year, the NRSC had been entrusted with the task of developing the geo-spatial solutions on the Bhuvan Geo-portal and also the mobile based geo-tagging applications for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.
An on-going process, geo-tagging not only facilitates online recording and monitoring of assets to check leakages but also serves as a tool for effective mapping of terrain for future developmental works. Geo-tagging implies that the assets created under MGNREGA, which include those of farming and agricultural facilities like canals, dams, irrigation and sanitation projects, are identified via satellite technology. This ensures credible verification and effective dealing with the complaints of non-durability of such assets.
Geo-tagging involves capturing the latitude and longitude of the said asset with pictures which are then made visible on the government-owned mapping platform Bhuvan. This, in turn, provides 2D and 3D maps, and other geo-spatial applications.
“On an average, about 30 lakh assets are created annually which includes a variety of works such as water harvesting structures, plantations, rural infrastructure, flood control measures, individual assets for sustainable livelihood, community infrastructure and so on. The process of geo-tagging is going on and all assets under MGNREGS will be geo-tagged. Special focus is being given to geo-tag natural resource management works especially the water related works,” a statement by the Ministry of Rural Development said.
The Ministry of Rural Development will now be able to use Geographical information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) to visualise, analyse and explore MNREGA-asset related data and also manage them more efficiently along with better understanding of their impact. The GIS makes it possible to visualise and understand the geographical context of any asset and thereby improve its efficiency, by providing a single, integrated view of asset information system across rural India. The portal will also facilitate the exchange of geospatial data among stakeholders from various jurisdictional levels.
One crore assets are said to have been geo-tagged and put in the public domain since the exercise took off on 1 September 2016.
What does a GIS do?
The tasks that the GIS will accomplish include :
-Geo-referencing of satellite images and scanned images
-GIS Mapping - Creation of Digital data (Assets) for pan rural India for specified works as specified in Schedule I of MGNREGA Act.
-Design and development of centralised GIS Data Model (Spatial and Non-Spatial Layers) to store spatial and attribute information.
-Facilitate periodic capturing, updation, maintenance of existing asset information using Mobile GIS platform
-Geo-tagging of images and integrating with respective assets
-Publishing of the asset information using Web Mapping Service (WMS) for Citizens to visualise and give feedback in a crowd-sourcing architecture.
Who will benefit and how?
Workers under the scheme will be able to get information about availability of work in locations around them, details of the work site, and payments. Those monitoring such work will be able to keep real-time watch on attendance of the labour force. Syphoning of funds and jobs by Panchayat leaders and ghost workers will be even more difficult now, thereby decreasing the characteristic MNREGA leakages and corruption.
Citizens will benefit from the portal as it will enable increased involvement in the form of suggestions and critiques. This will lead to a much more efficient social audit by citizens and provide a platform for feedback information that can be addressed to the respective sections of the government handling particular programs.
It will ease the work of government officers too as the incorporation of geo-fencing of assets will allow the setting up of a trigger which ensures that every time a government officer with an appropriate GPS-enabled simple device enters (or exits) the boundaries defined by the MGNREGA asset, a text message or email alert is sent.