Satellite images and information technology will be used to check poaching, tree felling
In a bid to make monitoring of Maharashtra's rich biodiversity efficient, the state forest department has decided to go hi-tech. The department has signed an agreement with the National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad, under which the agency will send satellite images to the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Applications Centre in Nagpur. The centre will then analyse the images and forward the information to the department.
The Rs 25 crore project will help effectively monitor all forest areas and help conservation efforts, says Praveen Pardeshi, the state's principal secretary for forests. Under the plan, all forest guards will be given a sophisticated mobile-like device called personal digital assistance (PDA), which will enable them to send e-mails and messages to higher officials as soon as they detect crimes like tree felling and poaching. The new system will also help in tracing the activities of forest guards; dereliction of duty will be easier to detect. The system is being implemented on an experimental basis in forest areas in Nashik and Jalgaon, and results will be in by December this year.
R R Sahay, additional principal chief conservator of forests (IT and Policy), says that the Project Management and Unit Committee, a high powered department committee on IT and policy, constituted recently by the state government, has approved the Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) development plan drawn up by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department. The two state forest departments are collaborating on the IT part of the project, which will include the deployment of PDA devices.
Sahay says that no final decision has been reached regarding the brand of PDA to procure. A proposal from BSNL in this connection, regarding network connectivity has also been accepted by the committee. Sahay also said that the department will decide a schedule for training frontline staff in consultation with the MP forest department, as there is no immediate need for training.
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