Forestland mapping in Gujarat using GPS

Forestland mapping in Gujarat using GPS

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India – The Global Positioning System (GPS), which will be installed in Dahod, Panchamahals and Sabarkantha districts of Gujarat in October, is likely to reduce paper work thereby making the process of forestland mapping and allotment much easier.

Now, forestland mapping under Scheduled Tribes and other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Right) Act, 2006 will no more be a long-drawn paper work.

Just like the Madhya Pradesh forest and tribal department, the Gujarat Tribal Development Department (TDD) has affirmed to begin a pilot project to survey forestland claimed by forest dwellers and tribals through the use of GPS system.

About a month ago, 12 experts from Gujarat TDD were sent to Madhya Pradesh to attain GPS software expertise through which the forestland claimed by the applicants could be surveyed right from the state headquarters in Gandhinagar.

Various forest department officers raised their eyebrows about the procedure, as it involves extra staff and a lot of fieldwork. But officials claimed that it would reduce a lot of paper work making land allotment easier.

T L Patel, Joint Director, Commissionerate of TDD said: “There are two ways of surveying and mapping land. While one is done by the District Land Infrastructure Record, under which land is surveyed in every district and includes several experts, the other is by a GPS software, which was initiated by the Madhya Pradesh government.”

As per the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, tribal land rights will be given to those forest dwellers and tribals who occupied the forestland between December 13, 2005 and December 31, 2007, said Patel.

He further said that claims made by the forest dwellers will hold true even if they have not taken possession by December 31, 2007. The allotment would be based on the specifications provided by them, he said.

The use of GPS software i.e. Personal Digital Access (PDA) will make things easier. Patel said, “TDD has applied for more than 20 PDA devices from Madhya Pradesh. The experts will be feeding the data, mapping the land on the device and locating it.” Finally, the data will be taken to a district office whose server will be directly connected to the TDD state level office, he said.