Twenty years ago working for an IT firm in Mumbai, GIS or Geographical Information Systems was new. Utility companies in USA were converting all their paper maps to digital and then superimposing data on them, e.g. convert a map and then put the entire electrical or water pipe line on that map. This way when a new connection was required, sitting in their office they could decide the nearest transformer or pipe available and send exact material required. A huge saving.
Today the technology has advanced and rather than use digitised paper maps as a base, google images are used so they are pictorial and identifying areas is easy. In Goa, RP 21 has gone into cold storage again. For the first time, google images were super imposed with survey data to give you beautiful and informative maps of Goa. These maps are available to all and easy to identify the different land uses viz no development, orchard , settlement etc by following the colour codes. However, this is data. If we can use data to further good governance then we are exploiting technology for the benefit of all.
The benefit of the DRP-21 which is already available to the aam admi is the digital Maps. The RP2001 was based on Manual topograpic sheets and these were not easily available to the aam admi. Since this information was privy to a few, exploitation, manipulation and corruption was rampant.
Today it is possible for every citizen to have access to the maps including survey numbers, classification of land viz slopes, khazan, an orchard etc. This is power to the people.
Let me give you an example. Our sole lady MLA Alina has made a statement on being inducted into the State Cabinet. She was given the sensitive portfolios of Environment and Forests, both under severe pressure at the altar of development. She promised that she would protect every inch of forest land and that nothing would be given for development. This is easier said than done. We all know that rampant mining is being undertaken in forest land. How can she ensure that no further mining happens in the Forests under her watch?
RP-2021 has a built in solution. Take the digital map of Goa with survey numbers marked. Overlay the info of legal mine leases from mining department. Now lay this on the latest Google images of Goa. All the mines will show up as ugly red blotches (mining pits) surrounded by green (forests), those not in the Authorized survey numbers are illegal. The Shah Commission used this technology. The current illegalities can be marked and tracked to see that they do not expand or no new area is opened up. All this can be done sitting in an AC office. No need of walking around the forests.
This technology can be used in various other ways. Take the PWD, the contractors have a term ‘sixer’. We all know what a sixer is in cricketing terms; the ball goes over the ropes without touching the ground. In PWD lingo, a ‘sixer’ is a job executed without touching the ground. Be it constructing a road, building gutters or whatever. In every case, as required an estimate is prepared, a tender is announced, bids are finalised, inspection is done and payment is effected. The missing aspect is that the actual work is not physically completed.
The other interesting or common method is to tender jobs repeatedly or overlapping, e.g., build a gutter from Margao to Panaji, and another from Nuvem to Porvorim. Now if one had the data of all tenders and one plotted them on a digital map, it would be easy to see if the lines overlapped repeatedly or part of the job were new while balance was overlapped. The Government can use this technology to nail a few bogus contracts not only in Goa but across the country. These ghost jobs are the bane of our country.
Recently the Government has come out with a list of illegal religious structures. One of the arguments that will be put forward is the fact that these structures existed from time immemorial and thus cannot be demolished. Using Google maps and the time line feature which is available with every paid subscription, one can actually get an image of the spot a few years before. If you drag the cursor backwards you can literally go back in time and see when the structure actually came into existence. There will be no doubt.
This can be used to track illegal construction, illegal filling, illegal conversions sitting in the TCP office. No need for foot patrols except to verify and demolish. The TCP department which has a paid subscription of Google maps can literally have a birds eye view on the implementation of the regional plan.
Technology can sure help make the “ZERO TOLERANCE TO CORRUPTION” a reality.