Nagpur, Maharashtra: According to a study titled ‘Impact assessment studies of Irai watershed in Chandrapur district using geo-informatics approach,’ growth and development in the form of industrialisation, urbanisation, power production and coal mining may have brought Chandrapur into the list of developing cities, but like other evolving cities, this growth has come at a huge cost. Not only has Chandrapur become the most polluted city in the state and fourth most polluted in the country, but the development has taken away for mining, a very large area of fertile agricultural land and forest area.
The study has compared changes in the built up area, agricultural land, forest cover, mining and other activities from 1975 onwards in the watershed belt. The study was undertaken by Maharashtra Remote Sensing and Application Centre (MRSAC) resource scientist Sanjay Patil as part of his doctoral research programme using remote sensing satellite images.
Prof YB Katapatal from the civil engineering department of the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, who guided the study, said, “Remote sensing is one of the best tools to conduct impact assessment studies extremely accurately in a very short time span. Development of any city has a multifaceted effect, many of which cannot be prevented. But our study can act as a good model for similar studies of other developing cities.”
The research indicates that development activities have disturbed the water cycle, drastically bringing down the groundwater table and also disturbed the ecology and environment of the entire watershed area of Irai river spread over 1,35,130ha.
The development activities have also influenced the river course and reduced the width of both Irai and its tributaries, Motaghat Nullah and Upsa Nullah. This has happened due to dumping of mine waste into these rivers, leading to loss of 39ha of river area.