Remote Sensing and GIS application in delineation and management of wastelands in...

Remote Sensing and GIS application in delineation and management of wastelands in Indira Gandhi Nahar Project (IGNP) command area


Balak Ram
Central Arid Zone Research Institute
[email protected]

Indira Gandhi canal has transformed northern part of Arid Rajasthan into Green and Granary. But excessive irrigation and intensification of agriculture over the years has caused environmental degradation and creation of new wastelands. In order to restore and save these limited and precious land resources from further degradation, their proper identification and mapping is a pre-requisite. The recently developed remote sensing and GIS technologies and availability of better resolution data, has revolutionised the mapping of wastelands and other natural resources. In the present study the wastelands of Hanumangarh district, Rajasthan have been delineated and mapped on 1:50,000 scale through visual interpretation of IRS-IC LISS-III geocoded data supported with field survey. Toposheet wise three layers viz. base and watershed, administrative and wasteland were prepared. These maps have been digitized and digital ( vector ) data base has been created under GIS environment under the line of NRIS. Spatial distribution, characteristics and present status of different wastelands as well as their image characteristics are discussed. Technologies / measures are suggested for rehabilitation and development of different categories of wasteland in order to put them into a sustainable production systems.

Location and Environment
Hanumangarh, the northern most district of Rajasthan with a total geographical area of 970315 ha is located between 28°46’30” to 29°57’20” north latitudes and between 73°49’55” to 75°31’32” east longitudes. It is surrounded by Ganganagar district in the west; Bikaner and Churu districts towards south west and south; Sirsa district of Haryana in the east and Firozepur district of Punjab in the north. The district has 6 towns and 1906 villages with a total population of 12,20,333 (645205 males and 575128 females) as per 1991 census. 82.14% of the district population live in rural area while 17.86% live in urban area. Thus density of population comes to 127 person/sq km and a literacy of 30.99% (Anon.1996). The district has a livestock population of 12.48 lakh as per 1997 census (Anon.1998). Climate of the district is hot arid. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 43.03° and 5.05°C respectively. Mean annual rainfall is 281 mm with a coefficient of variation (cv) of 50% and probable maximum precipitation (PMP) of 45 cm. This varies from 350 mm to 225 mm with a decreasing trend from SE to NW.The northern part of the district is chiefly Ghaggar flood plain with thick layer of alluvium and blown sand. Southern part on the other hand, is characterised by sand dunes and interdunal plains. The relative height of the sand dunes reaches upto 50 metres. Ghaggar river which is also known as “Nalee” is an ephemeral one and has NE to SW course near Hanumangarh. It sometimes get flooded during monsoon and causes extensive damage of crops and property. Soils of this region are deep to very deep with fine to coarse texture. Northern irrigated Ghaggar plain is dominated by fine and moderately fine textured soils. In southern rainfed zone the major soil groups are sandy to loamy sand at places underlained by lime concretion and gypsiferous substrata. The surface is covered with sand hummocks and sand dunes. The soils are low in nitrogen, organic carbon and phosphorus contents. Clay to clay loam soils are encountered with accumulation in sub strata along the Ghaggar bed.

Method and Materials
The methodology of wastelands classification system, interpretation of satellite data and preparation of wasteland maps, is same as adopted by NRSA. Similarly, the methodology for preparation of wastelands digital (vector) data base in GIS environment has also been followed as per manual prepared by NRSA (1997 & 1998). Wasteland layer of all 23 effective toposheets were prepared through visual interpretation of IRS IC LISS-III geocoded FCC imagery (on 1:50,000 scale) of Ist and 20th February, 1997 and also IRS IB LISS-II geocoded FCC of January, 1995. Boundaries of different wasteland categories were verified and checked during the field survey. The same were finalised after considering the tehsil-wise land use data for 1997-98 and farmer’s opinion.

Toposheet wise all the above three layers so prepared were digitized. Thereafter using ARC/INFO GIS system their editing, labelling, projection, transformation, edge matching and overlaying processes were completed. Statistical output were then generated and after their verification and correction the same were quantified and final toposheet wise and watershed wise statistics were generated. The suggesstions to rehabilitate and develop different categories of wastelands are based on the technologies developed by CAZRI and other research organizations.

Spatial distribution and characteristics of wastelands
The statistics generated through spatial data base created in GIS reveal that out of the total geographical area of the district 3.69 per cent or 35816.92 ha has been found under six different wastelands (Balak Ram,1999). Waterlogged and marshy land constitutes 1.12 per cent, land affected by salinity/alkalinity 0.09 per cent, under utilised degraded notified forest area 0.06 per cent, degraded pasture/grazing land 1.14 per cent, desertic sand 1.26 per cent and mining waste 0.02 per cent, respectively (Table 1 and Fig. 1). In general, the waterlogged area, salt affected land and degraded forest are concentrated in canal irrigated northern part of the district. On the other hand the desertic sand, degraded pastures and mining waste areas are occurring in rainfed zone which is concentrated in southern part of the district.

Waterlogged and Marshy Land
This wasteland category constitutes 10851 ha or 1.12 per cent of the total geographical area of the district and 30.30 per cent of the total wastelands area. Waterlogging problem has caused due to excessive irrigation, seepage from canals and lack of drainage. These factors resulted into the rise of water table, then development of salinity and finally the submergence of the land. Resultantly the irrigated double cropped area has gone out of cultivation and planted trees of eucalyptus and Acacia nilotica are dried up. Such wasteland clearly appear in dark blue to light blue colour on satellite imagery. The extent of actual submerged area varies from season to season and year to year. Interpretation of satellite data reveal that the extent of water submerged area is more in rabi season as compared to kharif season probably due to intake of more water for rabi crops. Along the IGNP main canal waterlogged areas are developed around Bashir and Sarni (along Fatehpur distributary), NE and south of Tibi, Silwala Khurd, Masitawali Headwork, Mirjawali, Dabli Khurd, Dabli Kalan, Ranjitpura, Mehrwala, 12 DBL, 14 DBL, 5 DBL, Sukhchainpura, north and SW of Mohanmagariya, NE of Lakhuwali, Naiyanwali Dhani, Khet-ki-Dhani and throughout main canal upto Jesabhatti. Dabli Khurd and Dabli Kalan are the worst affected villages whose 80 per cent settlements are abandoned and people have moved to nearby upland areas. Along the Ghaggar Diversion Canal, waterlogged areas occurs SW of Salemgarh, Chak 1 KSP and 2 KSP, Mainawali, Dhani Karala, Bharusari and Khedasari. The second worst affected area due to waterlogging is developed like a river channel right from Saramsar and Manaktheri in the west to Gandheli in the south east covering nearly 60 km distance. Near Manaktheri and Baropal the width of waterlogged area is 3 to 2 km. Major part of the village settlements of Manaktheri and Baropal are deserted and people are moved in nearby upland places. From here this waterlogged zone passes through Jakhranwali, Khedasari, Bharusari, Dhani Karala, Khet-ki-Dhani, Rawatsar, Nayagaon, Chaiya, Kanwani, and Dasuwali and ultimately reached upto Gandheli village. As a result of submergence Dasuwali and Gandheli settlements are deserted and people moved to nearby upland areas.. These lands are infested with Typha angustata, Arundo donex and Phragmitis spp.. The water table rises at the rate from 0.3 to 0.8 m annually which bring more area under submergence.

Land Affected by Salinity/Alkalinity
This wasteland class constitutes 942.41 ha or 0.09 per cent of the total geographical area of the district and 2.63 per cent of the total wasteland area. These salt affected lands appear dull white and bluish white to white on the imagery. These are secondary salinised land caused due to excessive irrigation, rise of water table, presence of inherent salinity in alluvium, in pockets thick zone of lime/ gypsiferous material in sub strata and lack of adequate drainage. As such the EC value of such soils ranges from 2.00 to 33.0 dSm-1. Salt affected lands are generally occurring around waterlogged areas and around the main waterlogged stretch from Saramsar and Manaktheri in west to Gandheli in the south east which passes through Baropal, Jakhranwali, Khedasari, Bharusari, Khet-ki-Dhani, Rawatsar, Nayagaon, Chaiya, Kanwani and Dasuwali villages. These are also occurring along the IGNP main canal and Ghaggar Diversion Canal and also around Chak 2 KSP, 4 KSP, Pir Kamariya, south of Tibi, Bashir, along Fatehpura distributory, Masitawali, Dabli Khurd, Dabli Kalan, 12 DBC, 5 DBC, 14 DBC, Ranjitpura and Dhani Karala, Lakhuwali, Chohlanwali and Jorawarpura villages. Besides such wastelands are also encountered around Chak 1 MSW, 2 MSW, 3 AG, 654 RD, 1 TLW, 4 RWS and 5 RWS. Changes in cropping pattern i.e. from cotton and wheat to paddy and thereafter no crop, sharp decline in productivity, extinction of native species and degradation of micro-environment are major impact of this phenomenon. Not only such lands are in immediate threat to be engulfed by waterlogging. Therefore, it is very much essential to save these lands from further degradation.

Under Utilized Degraded Notified Forest Area
The notified forest area in Hanumangarh district is about 3000 ha of which 555.26 ha has been identified as under utilized degraded forest. This constitutes 0.06 per cent of the total geographical area, 1.55 per cent of the total wastelands area and 18.51 per cent of the total notified forest area. The notified forest areas are occurring at four places. The biggest one is the Kola P.F. constituting 2420 ha. Shrubs like Zyziphus mauritiana, Capparis decidua and small and scattered trees of Prosopis cineraria can only be seen in the degraded portion. Good forest cover comprises the planted species of Dalbergia sissoo, Azadirachta indica, Acacia nilotica, Acacia tortilis, Eucalyptus, Melia azedarch, Albizia lebbeck, Tecomella undulata, Cassia fistulata and Popular ciliata. The second and third areas are also occurring in Hanumangarh tehsil near Chak Nos. 36SSW and 5ARW-B and Chak Nos. 44 SSW and 42 SSW covering 267 and 220 ha area, respectively. Out of the 267 ha forest area of 36 SSW and 5 ARW-B, 39.43 ha has been found under degraded state. In the fourth protected forest area near Deidas village, 10.72 ha has been identified as degraded one. Acacia tortilis, Acacia nilotica and Ziziphus mauritiana and Capparis decidua are major species occurring in these areas.

Degraded Pasture/ Grazing Lands
Pastures include ‘oran’ gochar, agor, etc. These common property resources (CPR) is an important land use system in arid Rajasthan. Most of these lands are in degraded condition due to their uncontrolled and free use, constantly increasing livestock pressure and removal of soils, trees and shrubs for domestic needs. Through interpretation of satellite data and field survey 11057.18 ha area has been mapped under this category. These degraded pasture/grazing lands constitute 1.14 per cent of the total district area and 30.87 per cent of the total wastelands. In Hanumangarh district such lands are mainly concentrated in rainfed southern part of the district comprising Rawatsar, Nohar and Bhadra tehsils. In irrigated canal command zone occurrence of these lands is negligible due to intensive agricultural practices. In southern part these lands are generally associated with sandy hummocks and sandy plain terrain. At places forest department has done plantation of Acacia tortilis but in real sense no pastures are being developed. The dominant tree species are Prosopis cineraria, Tecomella undulata, Acacia nilotica; shrubs like Ziziphus nummularia, Capparis decidua, Calotropis procera, Crotalaria burhia, Calligonum polygonoides, Aerva pseudotomentosa, Leptadenia pyrotechnica and Lycium barbarum. Grass cover is extremely poor with some species like Eragrostis and Cynodon dactylon. In rainfed zone though every village has some area under pasture but important among them are Baramsar, Purabsar, Mundsari, Kikralia, Nolkhi, Dhaniyasar, Pallu, Ghaniyasar, Sarupdesar, Shirasar, Moter and Bangasar in Rawatsar tehsil; Jabrasar, Dhanasiya, Khula, Tidiyasar, Ratusar, Meghana, Lakhasar, Chainpura, Sonri, Kikarali, Nanau, Dewasar, Birkali, Mandarpura, Durjana, Diplana, Lalana and Nathwaniya in Nohar tehsil and Kanau, Kirara, Palri, Bojhla Serra, Jhalunda, Bhinain, Gadhara, Anupshahr, Gogameri, Raslana, Ajitpura, Amarpura, Utradawas and Sawai Chhani in Bhadra tehsil, respectively..

This is the most dominant category of wasteland constituting 12192.29 ha or 1.26 per cent of the total geographical area of the district or 34.04 per cent of the total wastelands. The physiography of the district itself speak the concentration of sand dunes in its southern rainfed part. In irrigated area their occurrence is very less and in isolated forms. Not only, these are being gradually leveled and put into irrigated farming. Besides their soils is also removed and put into salt affected and waterlogged fields for improvement. Because of intensive agriculture in this region the sand dunes can be easily identified from the LISS-III IRS data. In kharif season imagery the upper flanks (which is generally active) of sand dunes appear in dull white tone in snake form and rest of the part in light blue to medium blue tone due to the presence of seasonal vegetation. On rabi season RS data on the other hand the sand dunes appear in white to light yellow or light pinkish colour. In wavy pattern the ripples of the sand dunes can also be clearly seen on the IRS LISS-III. The main chain of the sand dunes (ranging from 18 m to 50 m in height) occur in north west to south east direction right from Manakheri to Ramka traversing through Baropal and Jakhranwali (Pilibanga tehsil), Jorawarpura, Bharusari, Khedasari, Khoda, Kesardesar, Dhannasar, Hardaswali, Nure-ki-Dhani and Poharka (Rawatsar tehsil). In Rawatsar tehsil sandy wastes are also occurring near Bangasar, Mankeran, Dhandusar, Rawatsar, Dasuwali, Munsari, Baramsar, Chanderi Chhoti, Nolkhi, Kikraliya, Rampura, Ghaniyasar, Bisrasar, Mahila ki Dhani and Lakhera and east of Gandheli. In Nohar tehsil the sand dunes are comparatively low (15 m to 35 m) in height as compared to Rawatsar tehsil. Such lands are identified near Dewasar, Kansar, Jabrasar, Ratusar, Balasar, Nimla, Sarani, Nathwana, Bhagwansari, Araki, Sonri, Birkali, Nimla, Nanau, around Nohar town and east of Surpura. In Bhadra tehsil sandy wastes are occurring in its southern part in isolated pockets near Kunji, between Rampura and Chhota Ghotra, Chadi, Rambas, south east of Anupshahr, Munsari, Raslana, Utradabas, east of Bhadra town, Kalana, Ajitpura and Pirthal villages. Sand drift is major problem which get more aggravated due to cultiation of gram on the conserved moisture .

Mining/Industrial Waste
Gypsum is the only non-metalic mineral found in Hanumangarh district. Mining waste each created through its unplanned mining from the common lands. The pits were left without any treatment or restoration. An area of 219.14 ha or 0.02 per cent of the total geographical area of the district and 0.61 per cent of the total wastelands has been mapped out under this category. These mining areas are occurring in Rawatsar tehsil near Pallu, Baramsar, Malkasni , Maila, Lakhera and Purabsar villages.

Suggessions for wasteland reclamation and management

Control and Management of Waterlogging and Salinization The preventive measures to control this problem are the adoption of efficient water application technology, substitution of saline water, restrictive use of saline water, wetting of soil surface to enhance seed germination and plant growth, intorduction of ridge and furrow as well as drip and sprinklar irrigation system, intercropping of irrigated and unirrigated crops, fertility and integrated nutrient management and adoption of suitable cropping pattern and crop rotation. The control measurees to overcome this problem are vertical drainage, sub-surface drainage, bio-drainage, conjuctive use of saline/ sodic water, reduction of water allowance, emptying the Ghaggar depressions, lining of canals and development of fish culture (Kavadia,1991).

Gap Filling/Regeneration of Tree Species on Degraded Forest Land
Degraded part of the forest areas should be developed by gap filling, reseeding and transplanting. Suitable plant species like Acacia nilotica, Acacia tortilis, Dalbergia sissoo, Azadirachta indica, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Popular, Tamarix spp. using soil and water conservation measures such as trenching and contour furrowing. The ground flora should be enriched by growing suitable shrub and grass species in contour furrows. Grazing should be restricted and properly regulated.

Reseeding and Development of Degraded Pasture/Grazing Lands
Major objective to develop these degraded lands is to provide a palatable vegetation cover on these lands and regeneration of the degraded vegetation cover by providing suitable soil and moisture conservation measure and the protection. The approach should be ecologically suitable and acceptable to local people. Being in the vicinity of the village it becomes essential to check the movement of grazing animals. Several methods to be adopted are construction of barbed wire fencing, live fencing , contour furrows, inter row water harvesting system, planting of multipurpose leguminous species of topfeed value with piting-discing technique, division of area into compartments for smooth running of rehabilitation work and reseeding with high yielding grass species like C. Ciliaris, C. setigerus, D. annulatum, P. antidotale and Lasiurus sindicus. Besides, top feed species like A.tortilis, A.nilotica, Prosopis cineraria, Salvadora oleoides, A.senegal, Dichrostachys nutans, Ziziphus nummularia, Calligonum polygonoides and Capparis decidua may be transplanted (Singh and Kar, 1997).

Stabilisation and Management of Sand Dunes
In order to stabilise shifting or active sand dunes the erection of barbed wire fencing and construction of micro wind breaks with locally available brush wood or undershrubs and shrubs is first requirement. This should be followed by transplantation / revegetation with disease resistant and fast growing tree/shrub species like Acacia tortilis, Acacia nubica, Cercidium floridum and Calligonum polygonoides. In between the tree species, the rooted slips of locally available indigenous perennial grasses may be transplanted. For active and loose parts of stabilized dunes live chess board system should be made with local material and cuttings of suitable tree/shrubs should be planted after first monsoon shower. In subsequent years these may be filled with Bawli, Israeli babool, Phog, etc. The ground flora can be enriched by growing the adopted grasses like Lasiurus sindicus, Cenchrus ciliaris, Panicum antidotale and Citrullus colocynthis. Thus a blend of suitable plant species, planting technique and after- care, can develop the area for silvi-pasture and also control wind erosion.

Rehabilitation and Development of Mine Spoil Areas
Land shaping and soil profile modification are to be first undertaken to rehabilitate gypsum mine spoil areas. There after plantation of a mixture of top feed tree, shrub and grass species is to be done at 5 m x 5 m spacing in order to enhance soil fertility and stability, nitrogen fixation and provide fodder for animal browsing. These are Acacia nubica, Acacia tortilis, Azadirachta indica, Cercidium floridum, Dichrostachys nutans, Prosopis cineraria, Salvadora oleoides, Salvadora persica and Tamarix aphylla.

S.No. Wastenland Category Area in ha Percentage to total district area Percentage to total wastelands area
1. Waterlogged and marshy land 10851 1.12 30.30
2. Land affected by salinity/alkalinity 943 0.09 2.63
3. Under utilized degraded notified forest area 555 0.06 1.55
4. Degraded pasture/grazing land 11057 1.14 30.87
5. Sands inland/desertic 12192 1.26 34.04
6. Mining/industrial waste 219 0.02 0.61
Total 35817 3.69 100.00

Total district area = 970315 ha

About 3.69 per cent of the district area has been mapped under different wasteland categories using IRS LISS-III data and GIS technologies. Waterlogged, degraded pastures and desertic sands are the dominant wastelands. Degraded pastures and sandy waste areas are mainly concentrated in rainfed southern part of the district while waterlogged and salt affected lands are created in canal irrigated northern part of the district due to excessive irrigation and seepage from canals. Thus salt affected lands are caused due to secondary salinization. Waterlogging is the most dangerous and constantly increasing problem which has not only sharply declined the crop productivity but rendered irrigated double cropped area out of cultivation, deserted a number of village settlements and badly hampered the transport network system. To overcome this problem, both preventive and control measures are suggested. Moreover, detailed study using more higher resolution and multidate satellite data along with other parameters and regular monitoring are needed for all the problematic areas. The district has ideal conditions to develop the degraded and under utilized notified forest areas. Technologies are suggested for stabilization of active sand dunes and periodic reseeding and gap filling of semi- stabilized sand dunes. Thus with the adoption of proven technologies and management practices further degradation of wastelands can be minimized and the same can be rehabilitated and developed into sustainable production systems to meet the aspirations of the farming communities.

The authers are highly thankful to Dr. Pratap Narain, Director Central arid zone research Institute, Jodhpur for providing all the facilities during the course of this study.


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