The Indian Space Programme has a number of activities but the ones that are of some interest to geographers are those of the ones discussed below. India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has an ambitious programme of remote sensing applications, some of which are reflected here in this article.
Recognizing the need and importance of natural resources management in the country, Government of India has set-up the National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS). NNRMS is an integrated approach for management of natural resources, optimally utilizing the advantages of conventional systems and the information derived through remote sensing. Department of Space (DOS) is the nodal department in Government of India for evolution, establishment of NNRMS and all remote sensing related activities. With a view to have optimum use of space technology for national development it was felt necessary to create facilities for analysing remote sensing data to derive planning related inputs on natural resources of our country. Towards this, DOS has established five Regional Remote Sensing Service Centres (RRSSCs) in the country for speedy operationalization of remote sensing as an integral component of natural resources inventory, monitoring and management. RRSSCs enable the use of remote sensing technology at a reasonable cost to derive necessary information on various aspects related to natural resources. These centres are located at Jodhpur (Western Region), Dehradun (Northern Region), Kharagpur (Eastern Region), Nagpur (Central Region) and Bangalore (Southern Region) function under RRSSC, Central Management Office, ISRO Headquarters, Antariksh Bhawan,Bangalore.
x Provide facilities for digital image analysis and Geographic Information System(GIS) to the users
x Guide / assist users in application of digital image analysis techniques and GIS
x Develop and demonstrate techniques in the new area of applications
x Train scientists of user agencies in Remote Sensing Application, digital techniques , GIS and theme based applications
x National Missions related to natural resource management
x User application projects
x Application validation projects and Technology Development Projects under Remote Sensing Application Missions (RSAM)
x Software development and customization
x Training and education
x Expert advice / Consultancy towards promotion of technology in the country
Under IMSD, locale-specific action plans for sustainable development of land and water resources are generated on watershed basis, integrating thematic information generated using satellite data with collateral/conventional information and socioeconomic inputs. The action plans are basically recommendations towards improved soil and water conservation for ensuring enhanced productivity, while maintaining ecological/ environmental integrity of the area/region. The action plans, to illustrate, address identification of sites/areas for surface water harvesting, groundwater recharge, soil conservation measures - through check dams, vegetation bunding; sites/recommendations for improved/ diversified farming systems with fodder, fuel wood plantations, agro-forestry, and agro-horticulture. These action plans are generated by the joint involvement with the respective Governments departments, State Remote Sensing Centres, universities, private entrepreneurs and NGOs.
NRIS forms the core information system for the NNRMS and is oriented to aid decision-makers at national, regional, state and district levels to plan various developmental activities in a scientific, systematic, timely and optimum manner. The NRIS provides spatial data-bases of spatial (thematic) and non-spatial data with GIS solutions for decision making. It is organised in interlinked/networked hierarchy so as to cater to free flow of resources information. This venture has set a new trend amongst State-level missionary to have organised natural resources databases at district level.
A major project has been taken up for Biodiversity Characterisation at Landscape Level to prepare Biological zone maps and establishment of disturbance gradient for important bio-diversity rich areas of the country using remote sensing and GIS. RRSSCs are actively involved in the project both in database creation and providing software solutions under image processing and GIS domain. The project is aimed at prioritising areas for bio-prospecting and conservation.
A pilot project on APIB in Karnataka State has been on-going for consolidating the large amount of statistical and spatial information generated by various organisations and to create a single-window knowledge base for agricultural development. The purpose is to provide area specific information on all aspects of farm management that can be implemented by the farmer himself. This bank is not only an information or data bank but also a facilitator by providing the users with tools required for preparing developmental plans.
This is a national mission with an objective of creating scientific database for ground water using remote sensing technology. RRSSCs are involved in the generation of precision products and ground water prospect maps at 1:50,000 scale for the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
This is a important national mission wherein remote sensing techniques are used in providing pre-harvest estimates on crop acreage for major crops in various states in the country. RRSSCs have been actively involved with Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad in providing software solutions through a package 'CAPEWORKS'.
The package is operationally being used in all ISRO work centres and various State remote sensing centres regularly during the cropping seasons to derive the necessary information related to crops acreage.
RRSSCs are actively involved in watershed development related studies in the country. IMSD project has paved the way for scientific approach for planning and implementation of certain action plans to improve the land productivity and water resources in a given watershed. RRSSCs are actively involved at national level in monitoring/evaluation of watersheds treated under NWDPRA scheme using multi-temporal remote sensing data. Methodology for operationally executing such a project was developed within RRSSCs on a pilot mode and the same has been operationally utilised for the project.
RRSSC Kharagpur, one of the regional centres, is well located to provide quick information related to flood and cyclone related disasters. The centre is actively involved in generating such information using remote sensing and GIS techniques. RRSSCs are actively involved in creating digital databases for the flood-prone region of Assam and developing information system for decision making for effective management of disaster. The methodology can be replicated for other flood affected areas in due course of time.
Remote sensing techniques have been proved to be useful in studies related to sericulture which basically refers to identification of mulberry growing areas. The technique has proved to be very successful and cost effective in the country. RRSSCs are currently involved in a national mission on the project.
RRSSCs have expertise to deal with variety of image processing solutions. State of the art packages are available for processing remotely sensed data. Many applications have been provided with turn-key solutions by customising the application for smooth implementation. Some of the basic functionalities available under image processing are: Data Input, Geometric and Radiometric corrections; Digital Classification and Advanced Classification Techniques; Multi-layer modeling and multi-spectral analysis; Value added products and services; Terrain analysis and fly simulation; DEM generation and ortho-rectification; Raster and vector utilities; Digital cartography and map production; Data import / export facilities and Soft copy photo-grammetry solutions.
Software development and turn-key solutions are important services rendered by RRSSCs. The centres are equipped for taking up varieties of developmental activities related to national missions, State and Central government projects, user-specific needs and projects for NGOs and Private industries. The centres also carry out specific software development projects with Academic interface in newer areas of image processing / algorithm development / GIS solutions.
RRSSCs have developed number of software packages in the area of image processing and GIS. The application specific and project specific softwares are now gaining the popularity amongst various user agencies. Hence, the emphasis is now being given on generating tailor-made packages to solve application needs.
RRSSCs provide turn key solutions under varieties of situations. The centres not only provide quality training but also involve in providing GIS solutions in majors national missions and user specific projects. Customized GIS solutions, Database Design and Development are the key areas of specialisation. Some of the highlights of the projects executed by our centres are: Resources Mapping/Inventory, management & monitoring; Land and water resources development planning; Urban and regional planning Infrastructure planning; Command area management; Multimedia solutions under GIS for Tourism Information System; Seamless use of image processing and GIS for total solutions; Disaster management; Integrated studies; Environmental Impact Analysis; Change detection; Digital cartographic database; Site suitability assessment; Value added services; Facility management solutions; Consultancy / customized turn key solutions and Customized software solutions.