Life in Gurgaon

Drone mapping in Aravalli to focus on water scarcity in summer

Source: Hindustan Times

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The forest department has found 22 saturated water pits in the Aravalli forest region during its drone mapping process, the last leg of which will begin in the first week of September with a focus on water management in the range, officials of the forest department said.

Officials said they will check how many more water pits are required in the Aravallis so that animals do not venture into villages in search of water.

According to the forest officials, 70% of mapping is over and they tracked water availability in the area. A drone equipped with cameras hovered over the forest for six hours a day, four days a week to take images. The department is expected to get the results of the mapping activity within 15 days, after which it would start analyzing the results for more scientific management of the forest.

Gurugram range district forest officer Deepak Nanda said they were satisfied with the mapping as it has given them a clear picture of the status of wildlife and no poaching was reported. “We had constructed 22 water pits and they were regularly maintained by us. Apart from the forest department, different agencies and villages have also constructed pits in their respective areas,” Nanda said.

Till the beginning of this year, water was scarce in the forest and its peripheral areas, but monsoons have filled the existing pits, ensuring that animals would have enough water for at least a few months.

“For now, there is enough water in the Aravallis and this will be stored for next four to five months. Though the forest will also soak up the water and it will be a big challenge for us to keep the water pits filled,” Nanda said.

“We are considering some long-term solutions like getting the pits connected to water pipeline in forest areas linking to the nearest villages,” Nanda said.

According to the officials, the department is hopeful that the mapping will eventually help reduce instances of man-animal conflict in surrounding villages as the animals will get sufficient water in their habitat and won’t need to stray into villages.

The mapping of these villages will help the department plan the layout of the forest density. During the survey, the drones provided the department with an excellent 3D model of the Aravallis and helped determine the actual land use. “It is an effective tool in identifying unauthorized construction in the prohibited forest area,” officials said.

In May, the department had bought two drones for monitoring wildlife, mapping forests and spotting and preventing non-forest activities in the Aravallis.

They were bought after environmental activists raised concerns over rising number of violations in the Aravallis forest range. In the last six months, nine cases of tree felling and illegal construction have been reported here.

Officials accepted that rampant tree felling has been taking place in the Aravallis, but with the help of drones, those indulging in such illegal activities will be caught red-handed.

Earlier in June, the mapping activity had revealed sand mining in the forest.