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Application of remote sensing and GIS for sustainable development

Saturation (IHS) transformation, further refinement in
the information on natural resources could be made.
Similarly, for monitoring changes that have taken place
either due to developmental programmes or land
degradation, image differencing and principal
component analysis provide more objective assessment
of such changes.
Hitherto, only optical sensor data with a few broad
spectral bands have been used to generate base line
information on natural resources. The hyperspectral
remote sensing with a potential to provide diagnostic
capability of some natural features like minerals,
vegetation, etc. will help refining the information
generated on natural resources.
Imaging the terrain in the presence of smoke, haze
and cloud cover has been the major limitation of the
optical sensor data. The microwave data with day-and-
night observation; and cloud/haze/smoke penetration
capability hold very good promise for generating
information on crop coverage, floods, etc. during
monsoon season. The polarimetric images generated
from microwave energy with different polarization
provide further insight into structure and flouristics of
vegetation, soil properties and parent material
(Skidmore, 1996). Further, radar interferometry is yet
another tool that enables generating DEM which allows
monitoring glaciers, volcanic eruption, mine subsidence,
mudslips, etc.
Being cost and time-effective, the satellite-based
communication system helps in improving the literacy of
rural masses. Besides, space technology provides
valuable information on meteorology which is very
useful in weather forecasting and disaster management.
Further, it helps in search-and-rescue operations. The
Indian National Satellite System (1NSAT) a multi
purpose satellite has been catering to the requirements of
communication, meteorology, T.V. and radio broad
casting. Satellite-based navigation is yet another area
wherein space technology has contributed significantly.
Integration of information on natural resources,
socio-economic and climatic conditions and other
related ancillary information in a holistic manner for
prescribing locale-specific intervention for a given area
is very crucial. Geographic Information System (GIS)
offers the capability of integrating spatial and attribute
data and subsequent generation of action plan/develop
mental plan for sustainable development.
Having realised the importance of integrated
approach for sustainable development, the Department
of Space, Government of India in collaboration with the
State Governments had initiated pilot studies in 21
districts covering 203,000 sq. km and representing
diverse terrain, agro-climatic conditions and social and
cultural practices apart from very often affected by
drought, in the year 1987, to find scientific and lasting
solution to mitigate drought following the unprecedented
drought in many parts of the country during the period
1985-87. Based on encouraging results of the pilot
projects, such study was extended to another 153
districts covering 549,496 sq. km spread over in 25
states at the instance of Planning Commission, Govt, of
India - the highest policy decision making body, under a
national project titled “Integrated Mission for
Sustainable Development (IMSD)”. For ease of imple
mentation of the action plan in phased manner in these
selected districts, initially it was decided to identify a
priority block in each district for the study. (A block is
an administrative unit covering an area ranging from
1000-1500 sq. km). Subsequently, 80 blocks spread over
in 80 districts covering 85,339 sq. km have been selected
on a priority basis for taking up such study.
7.1 Database
For generating information on land and water
resources, the Linear Imaging Self-scanning (LISS-II)
data from Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (1RS-1 A/lB)
in the form of False Colour Composite (FCC) prints at
1:50,000 scale and digital data (Computer Compatible
Tapes) have been used in conjunction with ancillary
information, namely published reports, thematic maps,
etc. and adequate field check. Information on slope has
been derived from 1:50,000 scale Survey of India
topographical sheets. For appreciation of climate of the
area, meteorological data available with the India
Meteorological Department/respective district or taluk
(an administrative unit) headquarters have been made
use of. Besides, information on demographic and socio
economic conditions has been taken from the published
records by the concerned departments.
7.2 Approach
The holistic approach essentially involves genera
tion of thematic maps on land and water resources and
their integration with the socio-economic data to arrive
at locale-specific prescription for land and water
resources development. Various steps involved are
described hereunder :
7.2.1 Generation of Thematic Maps
Thematic maps on hydrogeomorphological condi
tion, soil resources and present land use/land cover have
been generated through systematic visual interpretation
and/digital analysis of IRS-IA/B LISS-II multispectral
data (with 36.25 m resolution) in conjunction with the