EVOLUTION OF NRDMS
NRDMS: The Programme
Natural Resources Data Management System (NRDMS) programme was initiated
in 1982 by the Department of Science and Technology as a multi-disciplinary
and multi-institutional R&D programme. The evolution of the
programme has been discussed below in details by dividing it into
three decades viz. 1st decade from 1982-92, 2nd decade from 1992-2002
and 3rd decade 2002 onwards.
During this period , national planning exercise
was in transition from national to local, while the planning philosophy
was sectoral . The Planning commission introduced concept of spatial
planning to smaller area levels. Pertinently, vision of the NRDMS
programme during its inception was to provide S&T inputs for
operationalsing the concept of Decentralized Planning of the country.
Goal of the programme was to develop computer compatible methodology
for developing spatial databases on natural resources, socio and
agro-economic parameters to further the concept of area specific
decentralized planning. In order to achieve this goal, the objectives
of the programme were:
To promote R&D in spatial data management.
To develop pilot scale integrated databases
on natural resources and socio-economic parameters to cater
to micro level planning.
To demonstrate the efficacy of database
approach for management and conservation of natural resources
with emphasis on location specific problems.
To build spatial resource profiles at different
hierarchical units of planning i.e. district, block and panchayat
To provide software support for data management,
modeling and operations research.
Training of potential users.
Documentation and dissemination of NRDMS
Data collated and collected from different sources like topo-sheets,
aerial survey, satellite imageries, census reports, data from
district line departments and from limited surveys were used to
convert into computer compatible formats in a common database
which was not developed as per database design. Those data were
processed to generate outputs like statistical table, thematic
maps, charts, diagrams etc. and were considered to be inputs or
support to decision-making (Fig.1). The system was not focus to
the information requirement of users.
At the end of the first decade, standardized
formats and computer-based methodologies for collection, storage
and retrieval of data on natural resources and socio-economic parameters
were developed. An indigenous DOS based GIS package, Geo Reference
Area Management (GRAM) was developed in modular form. On the recommendations
of the working group on district planning set up by the Planning
Commission and the multi-level planning unit of the Planning Commission,
the developed packages were operationalised by establishing ten
pilot district database centers at Vishakapatnam (Andhra Pradesh),
Koraput (Orissa), Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Gurgaon (Haryana),
Kheda (Gujarat), Alwar (Rajasthan), Munger (Bihar), Pauri (Uttar
Pradesh), Chandel (Manipur), Goa/Daman. The average cost for operationalising
the centers was $12,000 per annum. Few Decision support modules
for location of amenities, land and water management and investment
planning were developed in research mode. The application of NRDMS
technology was demonstrated in drought management in the Gurgaon
district of Haryana state.
On evaluation of the first decade of NRDMS programme the following
shortcomings were observed:
The developed databases were mostly non-spatial and not much spatial
data were there. Due to inefficient inter-sectoral data flow, developed
databases were not integrated in nature and didnít serve the information
need of local level planners. In spite of huge amount of data collected,
little of it was available in computer readable form.
Exorbitant cost of imported equipment and software packages on
Relational Data Base Management (RDBMS) and Geographical Information
System (GIS) and higher cost of conversion of spatial data to
digital form were the main hindrances to the diffusion of spatial
data technologies at the local level. Need for development of
technologies for spatial information generation was felt to fulfill
the need of local level planning. The developed databases needed
constant updating and developed software and GRAM needed updating
Lack of trained manpower in the R&D sector as well as handling
of spatial databases at the local level was hindering the spatial
data technologies potential application to local level planning.
Need for demonstration of the technologies to users was felt during
the end of this decade.
At the local level, necessary institutional changes were brought
about during this period to ensure peopleís participation in the
planning process. As per the provisions of the 73rd and 74th constitutional
amendments, different State Governments constituted a three tier
system of local bodies at district ( Zilla Panchayat) , block
(Panchayat Samiti) and village ( Gram Sabha) levels at rural areas
and Municipalities (Nagarpalikas) at urban areas. Mandates of
such local level bodies are to collect revenues, draw up and implement
integrated development schemes.
The VIII 5 Year- Plan (1990-95) of Planning Commission suggested
that the developmental plans should be drawn up at the local level
(district and below) taking into account the physical and human
endowments of the area, felt needs of the people and funds available.
Entry of GIS in India during late 80ís and launching of Indian
Remote Sensing Satellite during 1987 guided the evolution of the
NRDMS programme during its second decade. The programme was looked
upon as a major initiative for introduction of Geo spatial technologies
and tools in the local level planning of the country.
In this context, vision of the programme remained the same as
first decade, while the goals were focused towards 1. Development
of spatial data management technologies for integrated rural development
planning and 2. Demonstration of utility of spatial data tools
in local level decision making.
Objectives remained almost the same, adoption of Geographical
Information System (GIS) as the core of NRDMS methodology for
locale specific problem solving was made explicit. Forging linkages
with users at different levels was introduced as one of the objectives
for dissemination of NRDMS methodology.
At the end of the second decade, about $2.1 million had been spent
on the NRDMS programme. This included a support of $1.26 million
from the UNDP. The major outputs at the end of second decade have
been enumerated in the Table 2.:
Table 2. Major Outputs of the NRDMS programme
- Improved procedures for data collection, collation
and processing at local level developed.
- Indigenous GIS package GRAM upgraded to Windows based
GRAM++ and allied tools like GRAM controls, VECVIEWER,
GRAM-DRISHTI developed for customization and applications
- Tutors (GIS Tutor, GRAM++ Tutor) developed for the
training of officials and Line Department staff, NGOs
and Communities in principles of GIS.
- Spatial Decision Support Systems for Water management,
Energy management and infrastructure development developed.
- Software to aid watershed management developed e.g.
GRAM SWAT, WMDSS, ECOLAND.
- User- friendly interfaces developed for language conversion,
visualization and web-based applications.
- Spatial resource profiles and user specified applications
developed and demonstrated at district level in selected
sectors of land and water management, road construction,
infrastructure location, health planning, natural disaster
management, election management etc.
- Pilot scale district level GIS databases developed
and demonstrated in 40 districts. Stage has reached for
proliferation of the Geo-information technologies at other
- Availability of the Core Expertise in Spatial Data
Management in R&D institutions and concept champions
at districts / states