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Gujarat, India puts space technology to best use in governance, development says ISRO Chief

Ahmedabad, November 16 When Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman G Madhavan Nair, during his recent visit to Gujarat, said the state was one of the forerunners in the use of space technology for societal development and governance, he was indeed making a valid point.
“Gujarat’s use of modern space technology in tele-education, forecasting crop production, urban morphology, remote sensing of gases, identifying potential fisheries zone and prospective ground water, mineral mapping, watershed development and wasteland mapping has been unprecedented,” Nair had stressed.

To begin with, consider the achievements in the area of water resources. According to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, “The high resolution space imagery has helped us map about 300,000 check dams in Gujarat, giving a major boost to the rainwater harvesting in the state.”

Also, the groundwater prospect maps of Kutch district by radar penetration through sand, mapping and monitoring of water bodies, watershed prioritisation and planning some remote sensing (RS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications have helped in widespread water availability across the state.

Gujarat has also opened up new frontiers in tele-medicine and long distance education by providing broadband connectivity up to the village level. Around 20,000 classrooms of various schools and colleges in the state are covered under the EDUSAT (educational satellite) programme.

Even the mapping of health and education infrastructure is being done using space technology to ensure uniform infrastructural distribution across the state. This has been very helpful in tribal talukas under the Backward Area Mapping and Information System. Projects like use of satellite derived information in combating diseases like malaria by identifying high receptive areas in time and space domain; and suggesting control measures are also underway.

Even Disaster Management has acquired a whole new meaning in the state with the space technology helping in analysing floods and water logging. Anjana Vyas of CEPT University, Ahmedabad, said: “Flood prone zones are being identified and an emergency response system is being worked out with the help of RS and GIS applications. This will help prevent situations like the Surat floods of 2006.”

GIS mapping for earthquake and cyclone affected areas; and suggesting mitigation measures are also in the pipeline.

In the agricultural sector, the Spatial Decision Support System for planning and management has benefited the crop acreage and production estimation. The remote sensing data is also extensively used in crop condition assessment, degraded agriculture mapping and providing support for precision farming. Even the identification of catchment area for fishermen has resulted in reduced expenditure on diesel, raising the income levels along the state’s coastline.

Moving to the environment, ISRO’s RESOURCESAT has produced thematic mapping for coastal areas, giving an insight to the coral bleaching and ocean colour monitoring. This along with remote sensing of gases has helped in keeping a tab on potential climatic changes and the rising sea levels. It has also helped in zoning of sitting of industries by site suitability analysis.

The most recent being the Nano project site at Sanand, which the government identified with the help of Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics, Gandhinagar.