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The role of Spatial Information Technology (SIT) & Conventional Techniques in Participatory Natural Resource Management in drought prone areas of Warangal district in Andhra Pradesh

Gopal Krishna. P
Scientist(Ecology, RS & GIS)

Beema Rao. P
Scientist( Hydrology)

Rajendra Prasad . J
Consultant (Hydro Geologist)

Dr. K. S. K. Sai
Senior Director

Department of Electronics, Government of India,
New Delhi.

The demand for natural resources is growing with the increasing population. Management of land with sustainable agricultural practices and methods admixed with modern techniques would help in increasing productivity and to combat the land degradation. Successful planning of developmental activities at micro-level depend on the quality and quantity of information available on both natural and socio-economic resources. So a need arises for establishing a proper methodology which would tackle the problem of planning at a micro-level which can be effectively implemented at the cadestral level. As a result it’s essential to utilise the spatial information technology admixed with conventional techniques which would help in planning as well as storing a large amount of data.

The capability of remote sensing data has already been demonstrated by several people and also to delineate the features like landuse, soil, geology, etc., on regular basis. Similarly Geographical Information System (GIS) tool is available to store, retrieve and analyze different types of data for the management of natural resources with a capability to superimpose socio- economic data. It plays an important role in evolving alternate scenario for the natural resources management ( Rao. D. P, 1993). So utilising the latest computer technology admixed with conventional techniques would help in proper planning, implementation and management of natural resources at a micro-level.

In order to demonstrate the role & potential of Spatial Information Technology (SIT) and conventional techniques like Surveys and Participatory Rural Appraisal(PRA) for deriving an action plan and implementation of watersheds is demonstrated in the paper.


  • Analysis of Application of Geographical Information Systems(GIS) and Remote Sensing(RS) at micro-level planning for Natural Resources Management(NRM)
  • Use of GIS as a monitoring tool.
  • Use of Spatial Information technology for participatory planning.

Study Area :

Location Map of The Study Area

The study area lies between 17o 37′.30” and 17o.42′.30” N latitude and 79o. 8′.00” to 79o. 14′.30” E longitude covering a geographical area of 67.99Sq.Km ( 6799 ha) of Which 51.24 Sq.Km (5124 ha) treatable is considered. The area falls in Survey of India toposheet bearing No. 560/2 ( 1: 50,000 scale). It falls under Agro-ecological region 7 of India and Agro-climatic zone V of Andhra Pradesh. It is a part of musi river basin, a tributary to river Krishna falling under 4D1E3g of the national watershed atlas.

The area is characterized by hot semi-arid with a annual rainfall of 575 mm and LGP between 90 – 150 days the minimum and maximum temperature ranges from 160 to 37oc.

General topography of the area is undulating with slope ranging from 1 to 4 % in relative flat areas and from 15 to 35 % in hilly ridges.

The area is dominant with Red soil tract having Red earths with loamy subsoil i.e., chalkas and red sandy soils. The area is low in N, P and Zinc with poor waterholding capacity.

The allotment of watershed is done by the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) to the project implementing agency (PIA) while the DRDA’s consider the Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development (IMSD) maps for prioritizing the allotment of watersheds. The delineation of watersheds is based on 1:50,000 scale using Survey of India toposheet and IRS data. Once the area is allotted the PIA has to ensure implementation through local people. The paper describes the methodology followed in implementation of watersheds basing on the available resources and the incorporation of conventional techniques like PRA and conventional surveying techniques at a cadestral level and a modified action plan is suggested based on the people’s opinion. And use of GIS in integrating all the thematic maps and cadestral maps is focussed. The use of cadestral level database covering survey number wise / activity wise details of implementation for monitoring is discussed along with the problemof integration. The gestation period for any developmental project will take nearly 2 to 3 years even some time more, the changes during this period which effect the micro-level planning is also focussed. The conventional mapping through a cadestral map through traverse surveys is utilised for detecting the micro level changes and the utilisation of GIS for monitoring is also discussed with reference to a micro watershed from the macro watershed.

Results & Discussion:

1. Role of RS data in Watershed Planning:
The utility of Remote Sensing Data for management of natural resources is tested and proved for a micro-level planning ( IMSD guidelines). Different thematic layers ( maps) were taken which were generated by using IRS- 1B geocoded data pertaining to the area bearing No. 56 O/2 dated 29th November 1994 and Landsat TM Geocoded data bearing No. 56O/2 dated 7 th February 1995 and Survey of India Toposheet of the same area. The data was utilised for generating different thematic maps like Landuse, Hydro-geomorphology, Land Capability, Land Irrigability, Soil, Slope, Rainfall and integrating these an action plan was recommended by APSRAC( Andhra Pradesh State Remote Sensing Application centre ), Hyderabad and this was utilised for the purpose.

The Land use details for the study area is as follows:

Total watershed area 67.99
Double cropped 13.925
Kharif Unirrigated 29.19
Land with scrub 16.45
Land without scrub 2.825
Barren Rocky/ Stony waste/ sheet rock 2.225
Minning 0.7
Tanks 2.2
Settlement 0.475

Soils and its details:

Unit Assoc. of Soil Series Area in Sq.Km
2 Rocky/Pamnuru(P)/ Nemiligonda(N) 1.225
3 Rocky/Pallagutta(PG) 0.3
5 Rajaram ( R ) /Bodabanda( B) 10.225
6 Nellutla(NL)/ Chagallu(C ) 25.14
7 Chagalu (c )/Komella( K)/ Kundaram( KU) 16.875
8 Ghanpur( G)/ Siddenki( S) 7.7
9 Wadlakonda( w)/ Madduru ( M) 5.275
10 Tammadapalli(T) / Janagaon(J) 1.25

Recommendations as per RS data:
Based on the integration of different layers obtained from RS data and Topographical maps and socio-economic data the major recommendations given are as follows, the map is shown in ( Fig 1).

Activity proposed under Area in Sq.Km Priority
Fodder/ Silvipasture 17.275 2
Afforestation 1.125 4
Horticulture and Plantation on Bunds 10.625 3
Contour bunding/ Veg.Barriers/ Rcokfill dams etc Soil Conservation etc 38.965 1

2. Feasibility of Proposed Action Plan& Peoples Recommendations:
The role of Project Implementing Agency(PIA) is to prepare an action plan based on the needs of people and necessities and utilisation of recommendations of the action plan where ever applicable. So Landuse of the study area for a village is analysed critically. As knowledge of watershed landuse is important because a record of surface cover characteristics can be used to refine estimates of the quality, quantity and timing of water yield in response to a particular precipitation event. In prioritizing various treatments, it may require updated landuse inputs for stream flow simulations and optimizing the runoff. For planning at a micro watershed of 50.00 Sq.Km or 5000 ha , the landuse maps and other thematic maps obtained by Rs data are very handy as at this level it involves only a tentative planning but clear identification of the area. The data from the maps and the area are utililised in this particular case. Collection of same data for the same area consumes not only time but also manpower. Use of RS data at sub watershed level is inevitable as data obtained with less time span. But planning at a micro- watershed level hardly leaves any scope for application of RS data of lower resolution. This can be utilised for proposing the major land use but not for selecting a particular treatment. Planning at this level leads to grounding or establishing field models. The design of any treatment option is totally based on the location specific details. So the planning made at the higher level may not suite for the local conditions, and it may force to make changes in the action plan. The data from IRS IB and LANDSAT Thematic satellite data have been used to plan drought proofing treatments for Linghal Ghanpur watershed area.

2.1 Process of Implementation:
The guidelines of the watershed program incorporates some basic features which are to guide all the implementers in their Rights, Responsibilities, Relationships with institutions and Resources available. The people of the watershed are formed into Watershed Association(WA) and nominate a executive body called Watershed Committee(WC). These Wc’s get technical support from Watershed Development Team(WDT) , a four member technical team who are employed by a Project Implementing Agency(PIA). PIA may be a local government agency or a Non-governmental Organisation(NGO). Each PIA is expected to handle 10 micro-watersheds each covering about 50 to 60 Sq.Km. Funds are allocated according to the requirements of individual watersheds. Wc’s and WDT’s together prepare action plan which are approved by the district officers which is the primary step for execution of the plan. To avoid administrative problems and political conflicts with the change of landuse the plan for the watershed is modified. These plans are prepared by Participatory methods by using conventional way of Planning.

2.2 Comparative Landuse Analysis of Ghan Pur Village
The changes that has occurred over the period of 3 to 4 years is shown in the maps the changes has occurred due to the increased water availability which has resulted in drilling(new) or deepening 30 to 40 open or bore wells in the village. The Fig2 shows the current landuse(1997-98) when the project is being implemented and Fig2.1 shows the landuse as per IRS data for the year 1994-95 where the prioritization has taken place.

2.3 Conventional Planning Analysis :
It starts with identification of resources through Participatory methods like Participatory Rural Appraisal(PRA). In this the people or villagers will be made to participate in the resource planning by making them to draw the resources and their priorities and the facilities and the infrastructure available to them. These will be guided by the technical team or translation of their problems and suggestions will be done and a refinning of action plan is made and presented here and the process of mapping is shown in Fig3.PRA photo. The priority of the villagers is Soil & Moisture conservation, Minor irrigation work Horticulture,Nursery & pasture Development, Veterinary hospitals, Bus shelters etc

2.4 Advantages of Conventional Planning Over Sit:
Because of the present resolution and the delay in implementation the data available can only be finally used at a sub-watershed level where planning is only tentative. This is evident from the above figures 2 & 2.1 comparative change in landuses. Apart from the change in drainage coarses can also be mapped at the first order level where in these cann’t be visible and changed can be integrated in the finalization of maps. Conventional way of collection of data with reference to a point for location of wells using the base maps etc could help in monitoring the watershed activities.

2.5 Use of GIS for monitroing activities / watersheds:
As the watersheds period is of four years it requires frequent monitoring for the changes in the dynamics of land utilisation and its productivity and other impacts. Geographical information systems (GIS) is a science of spatial information based on convergence of the technological fields and conventional disciplines. It acts as a inventory tool, analysis tool, and management tool. It essentially helps in transformation of the discrete raw data via overlays into information for decision making process ( I.V. Muralikrishna 1993) . The need for the integratation of thematic layers on to a Cadestral level was done by merging thematic maps and the cadestral maps which were digitized and brought to a common scale. The attachment of data to diiferent level is being done the Socio economic data to a village and activity details or production details to a survey number is also being done for monitoring and the map with water with observation wells is shown in Fig.4.

2.6 Water and Waterlevels:
The inventory revealed nearly 643 open wells/ dugcum bore wells/ open wells and out of this nearly 72 observation wells were established in Linghal Ghnapur there are nearly 214 wells and around 38 observation wells were established and the change in water level is 25 cm to 50cms during ( 1998- 1999), the maps showing the water level as below:

2.7 Constraints:

  • It is agreed that the use of SIT in the integrated watershed development program has potential benefits, particularly in drought prone areas where soil and water conservation measures are fundamental to agricultural production but the following points needs to be focussed:
  • The participation of the people living in the area will be very less if SIT is used as a decision making tool, but it should be used as a decision supporting tool where in people’s opinion can be given preference.
  • The recommendations emerged from participatory planning using RS data as guiding tool cann’t be considered in the treatment plan already prepared because such changes are dynamic and it requires a program with continuous iterations.
  • The user groups and watershed committee jointly prepare watershed development plans for a program of activities that suit their agro-climatic conditions for each watershed based on their skills and they require technical support so a combination of packages or an integrated package is required in GIS environment which can help them get the user plans / estimates etc.


  • Utilisation of High resolution satellite data at higher scale would be more effective in planning at a micro-level but for planning a structure, integration of field data is inevitable.
  • Merging of cadestral maps to a toposheet or thematic maps is problematic as lack of control points or bench marks.
  • The time gap from prioritization of watershed to implementation is long the changes would effect in changing of action plan.
  • GIS is very helpful in monitoring the changes over the time period and in knowing the work progress on a cadestral level or survey number basis.


  • Census of India (1991), District Census handbook, Warangal, Director of Census Operations, Andhra Pradesh.
  • IMSD, Technical Guidelines (1995), National Remote Sensing Agency, Department of Space, Government of India, Hyderabad.
  • I.V. Murali Krishna (1993),GIS for environmental Planning. Journal of Remote sensing.
  • Rao, D. P. ( 1993), GIS application under IMSD project and other themes, training course on GIS for other themes, Resource Management development planning Vol.II, Space Applications Centre(SAC), Ahemedabad,
  • Simon Croxton,(1999),Central funding for local decisions: Watersheds in India, Apppriate Technologies, Vol 25 No.4 June 1999.
  • Watershed Atlas of India(1988), published by AIS&LUS, Dept. of Agriculture and cooperation, Govt.Of India,

The authors are grateful to Andhra Pradesh State Remote sensing Applications Centre, Hyderabad for providing the Remote Sensing thematic data, DRDA Warangal and field staff of PROGRESS. The authors are very grateful especially to the Department of Electronics (DOE), Govt. Of India, New Delhi for sanctioning the project to PROGRESS to develop a software for watersheds which has enabled to this study.

Fig. 1


1 vegetative barriers, contour bunds with stone checks etc,

3. Broad bed & furrow method of cultivation and conservation ditches

4. Irrigation & water management and horticultural species planting on field bunds

6. Fodder/silvipasture plantation in marginal lands

8. Reclamation of salt effected lands and planting of salt tolerant or resistant fodder/ fuel wood species

12. Afforestation with cordon wall or quarrying with environmental protection measures

As the present landuse 1997-98 As per satellite data landuse for 1994-95


Fig.4 Water (Observation Wells) Map


  1. Village boundary
  2. Watershed boundary
  3. Observation well