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‘National development, connectivity with users justifies our work’

Hyderabad, India: Connectivity with people and national development were imperatives in justifying the work ISRO and NSRC were doing, said Dr M. Annadurai, the man behind ISRO’s Chandrayaan. “We need to increase our outreach. I think the full potential good work hasn’t reached the policymakers and people yet. Already we are doing the job, but still some set of connectivity is yet to be established,” he said while speaking on the second day of the NRSC Users’ Meet. For that, NRSC needed to connect with the users, he said, adding only users could guide the centre about how to make things better and convince policymakers into what it was doing.

Earlier, Dr. R Nagaraja, GD, NRSC Data Centre, talked on the user services of the centre. Updating on NRSC’s data products and services, he highlighted the efforts being taken by the centre to promote good-quality data at low-cost. He also talked about the importance of the user community for NRSC. Pointing out that NRSC was producing ortho products and value added services, he said there were 2397 online users and a CRM data centre was being developed to improve customer relation and indentifying lacunae in the system. Online subscription services also proposed further price reduction. A licensing policy is also in the offing which proposes base licences for single users, work group licences for 2 to 20 users and enterprise licences for more than 20 users.

A.K. Chaturvedi of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) updated on advanced methodologies for prospecting potential mining areas. He said India has not discovered any new mines since 2000 and this could be attributed to lack of application of new techniques.

Highlighting energy and environment as two of the top key challenges for the next 50 years, Chaturvedi said there had to be a balance between the two. India faced 10-15% shortage in electricity, he said, adding that consumption of electricity was a measure of standard of living and our consumption was one-fourth of the global average even though we were the fifth largest power generating country in the world.

Chaturvedi, who saw nuclear power as the answer to clean and increased power generation, outlined how remote sensing techniques helped in this area. RS helped delineation of uranium and thorium resources, site selection for N-power plants and site selection for disposal of N-waste. He added that uranium deposits were discovered in a difficult, inaccessible terrain of the north-east using RS technology.

Uttar Pradesh Remote Sensing Application Centre Director P.N. Shah explained why spatial data was required for grassroot-level planning. UP is the biggest state in India with maximum population and diverse terrain and natural resources. In such a situation, an effective and updated database was essential for planning, he said. UPSAC, which is preparing database for many national development projects, has prepared 1:10,000 maps for the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, land user and land cover mapping, irrigation and cropping pattern, monitoring floods and change in river course. “All such plans are prepared with remote sensing – from site selection to development and maintenance stages,” he said.

Shah added that the RSAC was now integrating the layers of data under various departments so that there was one uniform database accessible to all. Explaining the use of RS technology, he said the 1:4,000 census maps were being overlaid with high-resolution images, and details of structures like roads, schools, buildings, hospitals, wells etc. were being added. These were being handed over to panchayats for rural planning. Shah gave an interesting example of how a bridge on Rapti is now lying unfinished following a change in the course of the river. After studying the location, the SAC had advised the PWD against constructing a bridge at that spot, but political pressure had resulted selection of the site. Now the bridge is lying incomplete and unutilised as the river has shifted its course.

RSAC’s land reclamation project by using RS has shown improvement in bringing land under afforestation. Similar technique has helped it to monitor encroachment on forest land.

Earlier, giving updates on NRSC’s pet project Bhuvan and applications and services offered on it, scientist Vinod Bothale, LISS 3 data was the most popular on Bhuvan followed by Carto DEM, and a large number of academics and researchers in addition to government and private departments were using it. He added that data of 23 metre was available for most of India and there were village level maps and boundaries to help the rural population. Under NUIS, a total of 139 towns have been brought on Bhuvan and four metros feature on it. Bhuvan also hosts other services like the Punjab Tourism site, which, in addition to routes and major locations, also gives micro-level information like location of dhabas and motels etc. The Andhra Forest department site gives detailed information on the vegetation in the state.

Bhuvan also hosts monthwise agricultural datasets on cropping pattern, user trends, favourable areas/time for sowing etc. Similar data is available for floods and watersheds. While live data is available for forest fires, Bhuvan is connected to USGS server for quake updates. Among other things, it also hosts data on the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme as well as ocean services like potential fishing zones, water salinity and temperature. A plan is in the offing to make available 3D videos of forest areas.

To encourage mobile usage, a Pocket Bhuvan service has also been launched. One of the major initiatives has been 2004 onwards data on water spread availability for entire India. Some clearances are awaited to make this data publicly available. Bhuvan will also be hosting the reach of various development projects soon.

Source: Our correspondent