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High-tech survey of Bihar’s landscape November 2, 2008

Posted by Bahadir Sahin in English, Haber (News).
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For long, remote villages have remained in obscurity. Inaccessibility is a ready excuse for backwardness. But now things seem to be changing for the better.

The latest gizmos have come to the rescue in the form of digital maps. Rural development department officials, who in the past would spend hours on village and block maps to chart out their plans, have digital maps of 20 districts of Bihar. The digitized maps of the remaining 18 districts, too, would be ready by this year.

Prepared by Bihar Remote Sensing Application Centre (BIRSAC), these digitized maps give fine details of boundary of districts with those of block and village borders as well. BIRSAC has also incorporated maps of major roads, railway tracks and rivers to make things easier.

“The project was given to us by the rural development department. With the maps available, we made digitized versions so that the details could be loaded in a computer, said BIRSAC scientist Deepa Sinha.

Established in 1985, the Centre has to its credit many projects, assigned both by the state government and Central government agencies. Crop Acreage Production Estimation (CAPE) project assigned by National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Hyderabad, is one such project. It entails estimation of per acre production of wheat and rice in Bihar. It is part of a national-level project, with NRSA procuring data from other states for reaching a conclusion about the likely production of these two major crops of the country.

“Apart from giving estimate for the state as a whole, we also provide district-wise estimate making things easier for policy makers. Suitable procedures have been developed for acreage and yield estimation using remote-sensing data,” Sinha said.

A similar kind of national level project called FASAL too has been assigned to the BIRSAC by the Space Application Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad. The Centre has been entrusted with the task of estimating crop acreage of Jute in Bihar’s four districts – Araria, Kishanganj, Purnia and Katihar.

Data collected here is sent to Ahmedabad where data from other states too are collected. It is then provided to the policy makers responsible for formulating policies for optimum utilization of the produce.

Being the only state-owned establishment in Bihar, recognised as nodal centre in the field of remote sensing (RS) and geographic information system (GIS), BIRSAC caters to the information needs of administrator and planners of the state government as well. It runs under the technical guidance of department of space, Government of India.

Taking its help, the state sugarcane development department is using the services of BIRSAC for sugarcane acreage estimate in Bihar.

The project involves district-wise sugarcane crop acreage estimation, actual acreage of sugarcane in the state and also giving the acreage estimation of the crop for the user agencies and decision makers. Out of the 38 districts, 35 are covered under this project. The most important ones are Gopalganj, East Champaran, West Champaran, Siwan, Sitamarhi and Samastipur districts.

“IRS-liss III Resourcesat data was used for the estimation work done in 2007 and most of the estimate were very close to the actual figures,” Sinha said.

The centre can also boast a first-of-its kind project in Bihar, related to preparing the map of Patna urban areas on the basis of satellite images. “We have the capacity to generate images of even wards of the city. No one has come forward with such a project till date,” Sinha said.

The state water resource development (WRD) department, responsible for taking the flood control measures, too has roped in the services of BIRSAC for mapping of rivers. GIS mapping of the Rivers Chandan, Gerua and Mahananda have been done so far.

Apart from giving information about the present river course, the GIS mapping helps in tracing the past courses of rivers. Sinha said the map also has information about embankment and human settlements near the river banks. The centre at present is working on a project for preparing the GIS map of rivers Burhi Gandak and Falgu.

All these rivers cause floods almost every year. Detailed information about them would certainly help WRD officials in charting out the flood-fighting measures.

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