The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has implemented a Central Sector Scheme entitled Environmental Information System (ENVIS), with the purposes of collection, collation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information relating to a variety of themes associated with Environment Sector. ENVIS was set up as a Central Scheme in December 1982 (Sixth Plan). ENVIS is a decentralized system, a web-based distributed network of subject-specific databases. Its purpose is to integrate country-wide efforts in environmental information collection, collation, storage, retrieval and dissemination to all concerned. ENVIS, by providing scientific, technical and semi-technical information on various environmental issues, serves as the backbone of policy formulation and environment management at all levels of Government as well as decision-making aimed at environmental protection and its improvement for sustaining good quality of life of all living beings. Its major users also include institutes and individual scientists carrying out research projects and agencies carrying out environmental impact assessment of projects as well as public.
ENVIS is continuously producing value-added information products relating to Environment, Forest, Wildlife and Climate Change. This includes theme based newsletters, special publications, e-newsletters, thematic bulletins, technical reports, Discussion Forum, mobile apps, directories of information at State/regional/ National level, Bibliography, information products developed on parks and sanctuary, desertification maps, flora and fauna species distribution maps. All these information are readily available on ENVIS websites which are dedicated to different interesting themes. The network presently consists of 69 Centres , of which 29 Centres which deal with “State of the Environment and Related Issues” are hosted by the Environment/ Forest Department of State Governments/ UT Administrations. Remaining 40 Centres, hosted by environment-related governmental and non-governmental organisations/ institutes of professional excellence, have a thematic mandate. During the year 2015-16, the ENVIS Centres put together, witnessed over one crore forty lakhs hits and it is growing.
Objectives of the Scheme
- To build up a repository and dissemination centre in Environmental Science and Engineering.
- To enable application of modern technologies of acquisition, processing, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information of environmental nature.
- To support and promote research, development and innovation in environmental information technology.
- To provide national environmental information services relevant to present needs and those capable of development to meet future needs of users, originators, processors and disseminators.
- To build up storage, retrieval and dissemination capabilities, with the ultimate objective of disseminating information speedily to the users.
- To promote national and international cooperation and liaise with agencies concerned for exchange of environment related information.
- To promote, support and assist education and personnel training programmes designed to enhance environmental information processing and utilising capabilities.
- To promote exchange of information amongst developing countries.
The ENVIS Centres form an integral part of the ENVIS network and deal either with “State of the Environment and Related Issues” of a particular State/UT (generally called State/UT Centre) or have a specific environment-related subject/theme mandate (generally called Thematic Centre). The State/UT Centres are hosted by the Environment/ Forest Department of State Governments/ UT Administrations or an attached/ autonomous body and the Thematic Centres by environment-related governmental or non-governmental organisations/ institutes of professional excellence. The role of an ENVIS Centre is to act as a single-window information provider on various areas related to environment as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) executed by the Host entity with the Ministry. Each Centre is a part of a country-wide web-enabled network on which environment-related information collated and updated by each Centre is made publicly available on a single e-platform. The Centres are tasked with performance of environmental information-related activities on an annual basis. These broadly cover database development that include descriptive information and numerical data, creating information products, maintaining and upgrading ENVIS website on NIC platform, and disseminating stored information through newsletters, reports, reprints, special thematic publications, news digests, abstracting services, etc. Query-Answer Service is another major responsibility of ENVIS Network. Wherever information is not readily available, ‘Referral Service’ is to be provided.
Each ENVIS Centre will update and maintain an information database that includes descriptive information and numerical data for suitable dissemination. Descriptive information will be maintained in the form of bibliographies, libraries, copies/ reprints/ abstracts of reports, articles, and research notes, and links to other databases/ networks, while numerical data on the subject/ theme assigned to the Centre will be collected, collated, compiled, processed and analyzed, and information products will be developed for online dissemination or in the form of publications and reports. All information thus compiled will be made available on the Centre’s website, which can also be accessed through the ENVIS Portal. The main functions of ENVIS Centres, in detail, are as follows:
- To maintain and update a databank on all aspects of assigned subject area/ status of environment and related issues, and to host and maintain a website for its dissemination.
- To develop an inventory of authentic and reliable information, and collect books, reports and journals for collation, retrieval, processing and analysis, and dissemination of information and database creation.
- To produce value-added information products including directories of information at State/regional/ National level (e.g. NGO databases, expertise rosters in various sectors, biodiversity registers); CD or website-based map atlases, e.g. using forest maps as base, information products could be developed on parks and sanctuary, desertification maps, species distribution maps or map atlases, and so on).
- To build linkages with information sources in the country and abroad for relevant and comprehensive information contents.
- To identify data gaps and knowledge gaps in the specified subject area and take action to fill these gaps.
- To collect primary data, as mandated.
- To respond to queries and information sought by stakeholders in the form of copies of published reports, documents, abstracts and research papers.
- To bring out newsletters and other publications in assigned subject.
- To help the ENVIS Focal Point in gradually developing the inventory of all information materials available at the Centres and in analysis of information in subject area of the Centre.
- To build up an inventory of authentic and reliable updated information in assigned subject, in descriptive and numeric modes as well as anticipatory information.
- To develop databases on parameters relevant to the subject area/ theme, and process and analyse them; State/ UT ENVIS Centres would collect, collate, compile, process, analyse and disseminate State/ UT-specific data.
- To identify data gaps and take action to fill these gaps.
- To disseminate the relevant information to each user comprehensively and as quickly as possible through various mediums and instruments.
- To coordinate with the Ministry for supplying relevant, adequate and timely information to different users.
- To develop a user-friendly, open, dynamic website that serves as a web-enabled system for online dissemination of information to users and provides an interactive exchange of information with other websites/ networks/ databases.
- To formulate its Strategic Plan that would, inter alia, serve to generate sources of funds from the corporate sector and/ or through subscriptions of its Newsletter/ other publications.
- To undertake all activities set out in each Centre’s Annual Plan.
ISBEID is being developed with the objective to help State Government/ UT Centres to collect, compile and disseminate environmental information on a centralised server, covering gaps with respect to various environment-related parameters like pollution, biodiversity, waste management, etc. The State/UT ENVIS Centres is tasked with collecting data from line Departments of the States/UTs, and other sources as relevant, and updating the same into the modules of ISBEID through its web application. The various modules of ISBEID correspond to various environment-related parameters. The ISBEID application is primarily intended to provide (a) internet-based GIS application, (b) one-stop information source to users, (c) interactive maps capable of handling operations like zoom in/out, pan, print, measure etc., and (d) querying ISBEID interactively. As of now, only statistical information/data are made available by the State ENVIS Centres.
- Periodic review of the functioning of the Scheme, including consideration of recommendations of the Independent Expert Committees, for mid-course corrections to the Scheme and for general improvement of ENVIS Network by SAC.
- Third-Party Evaluation of the Scheme as a whole and Performance of ENVIS Centres on an annual basis through National and Regional Evaluation Workshops by separate Independent Expert Committees for State/ UT and Thematic Centres. Not more than four Regional Evaluation Workshops (North, South, North-East and West regions) may be held in any year. Regional and National Workshops may be organized in alternate years.
- Performance Review of ENVIS Centres annually based on each Centre’s evaluation at a National/ Regional Workshop by Independent Expert Committee concerned coupled with physical visit by senior Officers of the Ministry for onsite assessment of facilities and operations at least once every two years, as per applicable Evaluation Matrix, for determining each Centre’s eligibility to receive the recurring grant-in-aid for forthcoming financial year.
- Online Monitoring and Evaluation System on day-to-day basis based on the prototype developed for the purpose for all ENVIS Centres, gradually extending the coverage from the 36 Centres whose Websites have been restructured and upgraded to all Centres as their websites are similarly restructured and upgraded.