Every inch of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park forests will be watched. Not by predators on the prowl, but by distant satellites.
The forests on Mumbai’s outskirts will be the first in India to be electronically scanned for poachers and encroachers, as well as to trace the route guards take through the woods.
The Mumbai experiment could be India’s hope of saving its rapidly depleting forest cover and vanishing plant and animal species. And your grandchildren may still be able to see the Indian tiger — just 1,411 left at last count.
Countries like the US, Canada and Australia use the system to tackle bushfires and replenish trees cut for timber. Several Mediterranean nations and African countries like Ghana also use it to protect their forests.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will install the Geographical Information System (GIS)-based software surveillance network, GeoVun, in the Borivali forests.
TCS, along with Conservation Action Trust (CAT) and WTI Advanced Technology Limited, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Maharashtra.
According to the agreement, which is still to be made public, GeoVun allows the users to identify best routes for patrolling, perform spatial analysis and produce reports. It integrates all maps and tables, and is a one-point warehouse of all the park data.
The system will be implemented in next six months. After reviewing results, it can be applied to other forests in the country. The software will also help the forest management analyse movement of animals.
Hindustan Times has a copy of the agreement, finalised on October 18, 2007, but forest officials are quiet about the project.
“It will be announced formally after all details are worked out. All we can say is this system will be best forest management tool we have ever had and will operate on a digital platform to tackle problems of encroachment and poaching of wildlife,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Bimal Majumdar.
TCS will foot the Rs 30-lakh project cost under its Corporate Social Responsibility program. It refused to comment before a formal announcement.