‘IT tools effective in controlling illegal mining'

Our Bureau Bangalore | Updated on May 11, 2011 Published on May 11, 2011

Forestry meet cites Madhya Pradesh's success in demarcating and monitoring its forest areas

The use of information technology (IT) tools such as the global positioning system (GPS) and personal digital assistants (PDAs) are effective in controlling illegal mining.

“Madhya Pradesh has effectively adopted IT to check illegal mining. A similar exercise can be adopted in Karnataka,” said Dr P. B. Gangopadhyay, Additional Director-General of Forests and former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh.

Mr Gangopadhyay was speaking at a workshop on ‘Expanding frontiers in forestry science' at the Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore. He said, “By adopting IT, the revenue and forest departments can effectively demarcate their areas and monitor them for violations. A similar exercise was implemented in Madhya Pradesh where illegal mining has come to a halt.”

Mine boundaries in Madhya Pradesh were digitised from maps and then laid out on the ground. On the ground, recording was done through the latitude-longitude of the boundary pillars, and regular checks are then using GPS and PDAs.

“Also, through IT, afforested areas can be monitored well. Regular monitoring has helped improve the forest cover in various coal mines in Madhya Pradesh,” he added.

Fire fighting is a very traditional and time consuming exercise in the country.

“Many forest areas have unrestricted access, but rampant collection of minor forest produce and the traditional rituals of some tribes is a source of forest fires,” said Mr Gangopadhyay.

“Here also, we need to implement IT tools for effective monitoring. Keeping this in mind, we need to modernise the force, for nearly 50 per cent of forests are affected every year,” he added.

Changing society

Dr C. T. S. Nair, Executive Vice-President, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment, in his presentation said, “Several change drivers are impacting society, and the future will be very different from the past and even what can be visualised now.”

“The country is in transition from an agrarian society to an industrial and post-industrial society. We are facing severe natural resource constraints in the form of short supply of arable land, forests and water,” he added.

Earlier, inaugurating the workshop, Professor P. Balaram, Director, IISc, said conducting an environment impact assessment (EIA) needs to be looked into.

EIAs used to be stringent in the 1970s and, in a few instances, ISRO had to conform to the norms and shift its projects to minimise the environmental impact.

“Now, we see a sudden demand for land to set up mega projects in the major cities. Agricultural or farm land around the cities are being acquired through hurried EIA meets,” explained Mr Balaram.

“It is the duty of the environmental agencies to follow the norms and engage with the people instead of adopting simplified norms or rushing in to give environmental clearances to projects,” he said.

Mr S. C. Joshi, Director, Institute of Wood Science and Technology, said the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) would hold the Indian Forest Congress between November 22 and 25.

“Today's meet is a pre-congress workshop wherein 50 forestry experts are deliberating on issues ranging from geomatic applications to forest surveys and inventory,” he added.

Published on May 11, 2011
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