Mannar the bell metal town of Kerala may, in a matter of months, find a place in the geo-spatial map of India. (Bell metal is a hard alloy. It is a form of bronze made approximately of 78 per cent copper and 22 per cent tin).
Every building, road, and rivulet in this 17.55 sq. km. patch of Kerala, home to about 40,000 people, would be mapped using Global Positioning System (GPS) and plotted on to a survey map which can be accessed on the Internet.
Spearheading this initiative is the Centre for Geo-Information Science and Technology of the University of Kerala. After the formal launch of the programme on Saturday by Kodikunnil Suresh, MP, the Centre's personnel, led by Director V. Prasannakumar, mapped the office of the Mannar grama panchayat, in Alappuzha district.
The ‘resource and asset mapping' is expected to be over in March 2012.
The Centre's mandate is to try and demonstrate the feasibility of a scalable web-based model for generating geo-spatial maps of various resources.
“When we map a building we note the plinth area, its category, details of ownership, water or other resources in the compound (like, well, pond), fuel used in the building uses, associated farm space and other details. This will be plotted on to a cadastral map of the panchayat and put on the India Geo Portal of the Natural Resources Data Management System,” Dr. Prasannakumar explained. (A cadastral map is a one that shows the boundaries and ownership of land parcels).
Initially, the mapping of households and natural resources would be done in one of the 16 wards in the grama panchayat. Particular attention would be paid to mapping sources of water, water bodies and the quality of water at different locations. This is expected to help planners put in place schemes to overcome drinking water shortage in specific areas.
In the coming months, the team from the Centre would prepare various resource maps, including land-use maps, by integrating data from field and satellite photographs. These ‘land use-land cover' maps would help panchayats discern the patterns of land use.
There were plans to map the bio-diversity of Mannar with the help of National Service Scheme volunteers from the local Pampa College run by the Travancore Devaswom Board.
A multi-layered map of Mannar, sporting web-driven spatial data on different aspects, may take more time. The centre would initially post the results of its geo-spatial mapping initiative on http://cgist.ac.in, Dr. Prasannakumar said.