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Indian state to monitor illegal mining via satellite

Tamil Nadu, India: The Indian state of Tamil Nadu is all set to go hi-tech to curb encroachments with its mining tenement registry through GIS and satellite images. This will involve creation of a comprehensive database of mining tenements in mineral bearing areas in various districts. The registry will also provide satellite images of cities and villages with survey numbers along with details of mining leases.

The illegal granite quarrying scam recently unearthed in Madurai has prompted the state government to put in place a monitoring mechanism for mining operations in the state. Monitoring via satellite imagery will help the district administration keep a close watch on the boundaries of mineral bearing areas and check violations.

The registry will cover nine districts — Madurai, Coimbatore, Salem, Tirunelveli, Krishnagiri, Trichy, Ariyalur, Virudhunagar and Villupuram. “At first, we will implement the project in Coimbatore, Salem and Tirunelveli. The remaining six districts will be added when clearances are obtained from the government,” a senior official from the state geology and mining department told TOI.

The system will display the outline of every tenement and geographically place it on the globe along with its features such as names of the lessees, extent of the areas and mineral date of grant. “Before putting the system in place, a comprehensive study will be undertaken to collect all the information by visiting the mining sites,” the official said. Digitisation of cadastral maps (showing boundaries and ownership of land) is the first step in the creation of a GIS-enabled mining tenement registry. The mineral atlas will show mineral resources of the state as well. “This database will be useful to track areas under mining operation and to detect illegal mining,” he said.

“Once the system goes live, we will constantly monitor the tenements for encroachments or violations,” he said. The software will continuously compare the original measurement of the land with the satellite pictures of lease area size. “The system can easily detect even a few meters of encroachment,” said the official.

Source: The Hindu