WEB GIS –a Catalyst in Micro level Resource Planning for Sustainable Development A Case Study of Dhakijuli Circle of Sonitpur in the land of blue hills & red rivers

Dr.Saurabh Gupta
Dr.Saurabh Gupta
Assistant Professor
Technical Director&State Informatics Officer, NIC Assam
Ajit Nath, PSA, Assam State Centre


Assam..better known as is the gateway to the north eastern part of India is the land of blue hills and red rivers , green land of rolling plains and dense forests. This mystic land of hills and beautiful rivers as Brahmaputra which has its course through state is renowned for its tea, rich flora and fauna, the world famous one horned rhinoceros. It is situated between 90-96 degree East Longitute and 24-28 degree North Latitudeand is bordered in the North and East by the Kingdom of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. Along the south lies Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Meghalaya lies to her South-West, Bengal and Bangladesh to her West.

In view of its important location for the country, development of this part of Country is been given highest priority by proper planning of available resources at microlevel for sustainable development of the region. Now a days the decentralized planning process is a conspicuous feature in India having planning machinery operating at the state and district level and Circle is the micro level unit used for implementing different kinds of rural-regional development programs for its sustainability . There is certainly a strong need for data and information base for the successful planning and development operations at different levels. The decision making at appropriate places and time by the rapid growth and quick development of information technology in using Spatial and Non-Spatial data as a part of planning exercise has become simpler and easier.

The one most important problem which information technology inhibit is how to access to information and data without burdening end users with any GIS software for micro level planning and this has been sorted out by the advent of Web GIS which has the ability to sharing the geo-spatial data with formats and platforms independence. WebGIS has become a right integration of GIS and Internet technology to provide the path for planners for efficient, effective planning at very low cost.

In this paper an attempt is made to illustrate the capabilities of Open source WebGIS in Microlevel planning of facilities at village and cadastral level, considering Dhakijuli a circle of Sonitpur district of Assam as case study.


Sustainable development of a region/country is the development of methods/techniques to utilize its resources effectively and manage the facilities judiciously. Infrastructure plays a significant role in the development of the economy and in the upliftment of society at the grass root level. To have optimized resource utilization there is a need of Micro level planning and thus the need to use latest state of art technology for such achievement. Geographic Information System (GIS) is a vital tool that provides the most suitable platform for understanding the complexities of the problem, manipulate with the data, take appropriate decisions and arrive at appropriate solutions. It should be used in organizing/management at micro level which is the ultimate building block of development of any society/country. The usage /applications of GIS at local level are of utmost importance. The GIS can be helpful in deciding establishing tube wells, rural land use planning, afforestation planning/schemes etc for lowest level development. For these kind of analysis, single criterion or multicriterion procedures are involved. Some developmental activities like establishment of new schools, hospitals and other amenities could be effective done through GIS so that the public can avail the optimum path of road, railways, canals etc,. Further, incorporation of WebGIS would amplify its scope manifold. This new technology can reduce the time and cost to the planners in organising the data in arriving at precise conclusion and decisions at their doorstep. Land records and facilities available with that area of land can be put in digital form which can be quickly updated. These can be assessed by an user and the latest information can be given in a shortest time. These will surely reduce the litigations pertaining to land and related issues.

This paper presents a case study of WebGIS working as a catalyst in the resource planning in DhekiaJuli Circle of Sonitpur district of Assam with the defined objectives as follows:
  1. To build dynamic Model for Micro level decentralized planning for sustainable development.
  2. To provide a web-based platform for collaboration and data sharing between specialists, planning agencies, citizens, and private entities
  3. Provide scientific approach to facility planning
  4. To provide better management of resources and facilities.
  5. Enable faster response to changing ground realities and prompt corrective action.
  6. To plan and monitor various Govt. Schemes and their covered span of area.
  7. To act as the arm of Govt for providing the information to the public as the responsibility under RTI.
  8. To provide faster way of extraction of plotwise detailed information of the land for land related issues.
Study Area:

Sonitpur district in Assam is spread over an area of 5324 sq. kms. on north bank of Brahmaputra river. In terms of area Sonitpur is the second largest district of Assam after Karbi Anglong district. The population of Sonitpur district is 16,77,874 as per 2001 Census. In terms of population it ranks third in Assam after Kamrup and Nagaon districts. It has boundry in NorthThe state of Arunachal Pradesh. In South it is surrounded by Morigaon, Nagaon, Jorhat and Golaghat districts. In East and west it touches Lakhimpur and Darrang District.

The District lies between 26° 30’N and 27° 01’N latitude and between 92° 16’E and 93° 43’E longitude. There are number of river island in Brahmaputra River, known as Chars in local parlance. They are generally sandy. Some Chars are large enough and fit for habitation and cultivation.There are lakes and ponds dotting every part of the District. The major lakes are Rowmari, Dighali, Borsola, Rongapani and Dhandi.These water bodies along with the rivers and rivulets provide a lot of vistas for fishing in the District. The central and southern portion of the main plain is dotted with hills and hillocks, especially near the Brahmaputra river. Some Important hills are the Agnigarh and the Bhomuraguri. The region has trees, tea-plantations and paddy fields.The northern portion is made up of Forest Reserves and sparsely populated forest-villages. The region abounds in bio-diversity with evergreen and deciduous trees of several types. There is a National Park (Nameri), a few Wildlife sanctuaries (Sonai-Rupai & Bor-Dikorai), and a number of reserve forests (e.g. Chariduar, Balipara reserve-forest). In the extreme north of the region (Bhalukpung, Sijushah, Pabhoi, etc.), are hills and hillocks marking the starting of the Himalayan foothills. The main-plain is slightly sloping from east to west, and is at an average altitude of 1800 feet from the mean sea level. Sonitpur District falls in the Sub-Tropical climatic region, and enjoys Monsoon type of climate. Summers are hot and humid, with an average temperature of 29° C. The highest temperature is recorded just prior to the onset of Monsoon (around May-early June). Summer rain is heavy, and is principally caused from late June to early September by the moisture-laden South-West Monsoon, on striking the Himalayan foothills of the north. Such rain is both a boon and a bane for the people. A boon, for it provides natural irrigation to the fields; and a bane, as it causes the rivers to overflow their banks and cause floods.Autumns are dry, and warm. It gets cooler as the months progress.Winters extend from the month of October to February, and are cold and generally dry, with an average temperature of 16° C. It gets quite chilling in late December and early January, on account of snowfall in the upper reaches of Arunachal Pradesh. Springs are cool and pleasant, occurring in the months of late March and April. Of course, during these months, flash rains and thunderstorms are at times caused by cyclonic winds, known in local parlance as Bordoichila.

Dhekiajuli Circle, the largest revenue circle of Sonitpur district has been taken as pilot circle for WebGIS application to attain the objectives of the study by creating Village Amenities Information System and Land Records System at cadastral level. The circle consists of five Mauzas consisting lots, which are cluster of village for ease of revenue administration. Revenue records of Dhekiajuli town is divided into eleven sheets in three parts- like Part-I Sheet-I, Part-II Sheet-II etc. Detailed cadastral entities like plots of lands, roads, rivers, etc are demarcated inside each sheet.

Digitization has been carried out in two phases : (a) up to village level consisting village boundaries, village roads, rivers, forests, char – chaparies, Mauza boundaries, lot boundaries. (b) Cadastral dizitization consisting land plots.

GIS Technology for the study:

In this study Open Source Web-GIS is considered for integrating GIS and RDBMS to allow the user to operate the system without having to grapple with the intricacies of GIS and RDBMS technology , to share information and technical expertise among a wide range of users at no cost and to provide a web-based platform for collaboration and data sharing between specialists, planning agencies, citizens, and private entities.

WEBGIS is a Geographic Information System (GIS) distributed across a computer network to integrate, disseminate, and communicate geographic information visually on the World Wide Web In performing the GIS analysis tasks, this service is similar to the Client-Server architecture of the Web. The geo-processing breaks down into a server-side and client-side task that make the users will be able to access, manipulate and retrieve the GIS data from their browser without purchasing proprietary GIS software. A client typically is a Web browser and the server-side consists of a Web server that provides a WebGIS software program. The client requests for a map or some geo-processing over the Web to the remote server. The server translates the request into an internal code and invokes the GIS functions by passing on the request to the WebGIS software. The software returns the result that is reformatted for interpretation by the client browser application itself or with additional functionality from a plug-in or Java applet. The server then returns the result to the client for display, or sends data and analysis tools to the client for use on the client-side The WebGIS system is considered as a Client-Server web deployment with additional technology to provide a Webmapping application, either at just the server-side or at both the server-side and the client-side. The Web server itself is not able to do any geo-processing then it has to pass on requests from the client to map server (WebGIS software) for geo-processing. This may be viewed as follows:

Web GIS software used for the study:

MapServer an Open Source development environment for building spatially enabled Internet applications is used for the study as it is known to compile on most UNIXes and will run under Windows NT/98/95 and absolutely run on Linux/Apache platforms. It generally runs as a CGI application from http server unless in the case of building a more advanced application with MapScript, which accesses the MapServer API directly. The logic of a MapServer Application is expressed in three core components as the Mapfile, the template file and the GIS dataset. The Mapfile defines the data to be used in an application and display and query parameters accepted as the application's configuration file. The Mapfile also includes information about how to draw the map, the legend, and maps resulting from a query. The template file controls how the maps and legends output from MapServer will appear on an html page. MapServer supports geoTiff files and Tiff files with world files. In view of versatility this was the best choice.

Methodology used for Spatial Analysis:

Microlevel planning involves creation of spatial database related to Dekhiajuli’s , and then the establishment of linkage between the spatial database and its related attributes. Customized application software is designed and developed to use this linkage and present the planners the output as desired by them.

For this purpose, various base maps with village and plot level details are digitized for extraction of the following features.
  • Villages ( location & boundaries )
  • Plots inside villages ( location & boundaries ) Panchayat
  • Mouza ( location & boundaries )
  • Circle ( location & boundaries )
  • Subdivision ( location & boundaries )
  • District ( location & boundaries )
  • Road Network ( NH, Roads )
  • Railway
  • Rivers
  • Forest covers
  • Char / Chaparies
  • Land use
  • Agriculture
The extraction of the aforementioned features is made by digitization of Revenue Circle Maps, Toposheets from SOI, Road Network Maps from Public Works Dept, Railway Network Map and Land use map .

The attribute data related to crops as Paddy has been extracted from Chiita, and data related to various facilities and schemes as Flow Irrigation Scheme, Deep Tube well Schemes has been correlated with the spatial features. Village wise data of villages with Cycle shop, Rickshaw, Dairy, Grocery shop, Panshop , Fishery and poultry facilities under various government schemes as KalpTaru Scheme has been linked with spatial data to provide the planners a roadmap for micro level planning in the state. The data related to Central Schemes for Indira Awas Yojna has also been incorporated. The Land category as Kheras Patta, Annual Patta (Eksona), Bisesh Myadi, Bisesh Eksona, La Kheras, Simple Free Grant, Nisfi Kheras, FS Grant, CHAT, Siling Sarkar, Kendriya Chark, Guposar and WLA make the key attributes for planner to plan upto ‘DAG’ plot level and to uplift the level of rural masses and to remove the disparity exist between very poor and very rich by proper allotment of plots under government schemes. This data related to land is collected from the database developed during the implementation of ‘DHARITREE’ an On-line Land Mutation s/w implemented in Assam. The connectivity of Spatial Data with Census data is an added advantage for planners.

One has to access designated URL to view the Sonitpur Map with political boundary. Various Spatial layers as forest & Chapari can be viewed in the district map. Other Layers as Railways, Roads and Rivers can be viewed for planning purpose.

Online queries can be made for detailed planning as Selecting the circles whose land area is more than 650 sq km and a Mapbased answer can be retrieved. Not only this all spatial layers can be observed by superimposing on one layer as Rail, Roads and Rivers . This provides an interactive way of planning the resources.

Spatial analysis for microlevel planning at Circle level can be made by selecting Chapari & Forest and the map can be zoomed for better visualization and planning upto to 600X450 pixels. Even the villages among the list of all villages in the circle with its attributes(linked with attribute database) can be highlighted with its detailed information which shows the Capability of Web GIS

With rail, river forest, chapari layers on Dhekiajuli town Land Records query system can be used to plan at cadastral level as this spatial database is also integrated with Land Records at the village level. The Dhekiajuli town is divided into 3 Parts, each with some sheets. They are viewed here with road & River layers. One can query on Plot No ( Dag No) to view basic information on the Dag, with or without the road,river layers.

With zoom facility one can select area surrounding the desired dag and view land information for that dag. It can also capture the Map ( Trace map of the plot) in Adobe Arcobat and is printable. Similarly the Land information can be printed separately. Query can be made on several other parameters as Land Type, Pattadar etc. When Land type is selected, different land types ( AP, KP, SPP) are shown. On selection of AP, all the dags with AP type are highlighted. We can also view detail land information on any dag . On Pattadar parameter One can view the plots ( dags ) and their land information for all Govt lands / Non Govt lands and pattadar details. The Land information on query can be viewed in local language i.e. Assamese fonts also. This data is retrieved from LRC database.

The planners can have a view for decision making, the villages covered under various govt. irrigation schemes as Flow Irrigation (FIS) and Deep Tube Well Scheme(DTW). Even a village can be found, covered under various schemes and the infrastructure facilities can be seen in that village. Indra Awas Yojna being the highest priority scheme has been given highest priority here also. The chloropleth maps indicating increasing/decreasing values are also produced. The land details in Assamese may be viewed for planning and data verification.

A reverse query can also be made and the village name with its panchayat can be seen on the map. The scheme under which the village is covered with the amount provided to it can found using the spatial query by selecting a particular village.

Conclusion :

  1. Spatial resource database with infrastructure attributes is created for the Dhekiajuli Circle for improved decision making in an interactive way.
  2. It has facilitated decentralized micro level planning for sustainable development of the region.
  3. It has provided a way scientific approach to facility/infrastructure planning and enabled faster response to ganging ground realities thereby making planners to take prompt proactive actions.
  4. It enabled Quick disposal of Land Records related requests from public.
  5. The study created a warning message that only two villages are covered under Kalptaru Scheme for Dairy Schemes.
  6. The study shows that only a few villages are covered under Pabari FIS thereby providing Govt. to take necessary action in this regard.
  7. It has also indicated that only Northern side of the Circle is given higher priority while selecting villages to be covered under Indra Awas Yojna.
  8. The study shows that Web-GIS is a very user friendly and low cost solution for making Spatial Analysis at micro level for sustainable development of the region.