Maharashtra forest dept gets new command centre to tackle forest fire, poaching in real-time | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Aug 23, 2017-Wednesday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Maharashtra forest dept gets new command centre to tackle forest fire, poaching in real-time

In a first for the country, the forest department will be using real-time satellite images of all forested areas in and around the state through a command control centre at Van Bhavan in Nagpur.

mumbai Updated: Jan 02, 2017 09:42 IST
Badri Chatterjee
The command centre at Nagpur has a video wall consisting of nine LED monitors, relaying images and information to top forest officials.
The command centre at Nagpur has a video wall consisting of nine LED monitors, relaying images and information to top forest officials.(HT photo)

Forest fires, felling of trees, illegal wildlife trade and poaching — all these activities will now be tracked across the state in real time from the confines of a room.

In a first for the country, the state forest department will use real-time satellite images of all forested areas in and around the state through a command centre at Van Bhavan in Nagpur. The centre has a video wall consisting of nine LED monitors, relaying images and information to top forest officials. It would use video-conferencing technology to take decisions. “The idea is to reduce the time-lag in communication during emergencies such as forest fires and poaching,” said Sudhir Mungantiwar, forest minister.

In February 2016, the forest department signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Remote Sensing Centre in Hyderabad, which uploaded maps of all forest areas, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in the state and surrounding states on their portal using geographical information system (GIS) technology.

“From 2017 onwards, we will get information on major forest problems plotted on a map on real-time basis,” said Mungantiwar. “The process will be much faster through standard operating procedures for each issue and immediate instructions will ensure better management, which otherwise would not have been possible without technology.”

For example, if there is a forest fire at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, the exact location and the line along which the fire is spreading can be detected on the LED monitors by the team in Nagpur. “In such a situation, top officials will take a call to inform forest guards, deploy them at necessary locations and put the fire out much faster. The same holds for other forest issues as well,” said Mungantiwar.

During an emergency, the forest department will consult premier institutes of India such as – Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore, Indian Plywood Research Training Institute, Bangalore, National Tiger Conservation Authority in Delhi and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Training, Dehradun – to resolve crisis situations.

“Our officers from the forest department can sit at the command control room and interact with these specialists of forestry and wildlife, housed in different parts of the country, on a real-time basis. And can get quality input from their side,” said P Srivastava, additional principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF) for information technology and policy, state forest department.

He added that monitoring of the two-crore sapling plantation by the department in July can also be done using the technology. “The maps were made by integrating the management information system (MIS) with GIS through satellite technology with the help of Maharashtra Remote Sensing Applications Centre, Nagpur and then submitted to NRSC for uploading,” said Srivastava. “Currently, 1800 locations in the state are live where the plantations have survived.”

Srivastava explained the need for such a technology arose after disaster control rooms across the country, both at the central and state level, were not equipped to tackle the issue of forest fires, even though it was part of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. “Now, NRSC alerts will land directly on the forest guard’s mobile phones within minutes,” he said adding, “We will now communicate to individual forest officers not only from our state but nearby states too, to check problems and in turn our efficacy in nabbing violators fleeing into neighbouring states can also be increased.”

Forest fires have an adverse impact on the ecology. A large number of arboreal creatures as also insects and reptiles could have been died in the conflagration. A number of the small animals had died owing to their inability to escape from the blaze.

The total cost for the project was Rs1 crore, out of which 45 lakh was for construction of the technology and remaining funds were allocated for integrating it across several digital platforms.

For example, if there is a forest fire at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, the exact location and the line along which the fire is spreading can be detected on the LED monitors by the team in Nagpur. “In such a situation, top officials will take a call to inform forest guards, deploy them at necessary locations and put the fire out much faster. The same holds for other forest issues as well,” said Mungantiwar.

During an emergency, the forest department will consult premier institutes of India such as – Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore, Indian Plywood Research Training Institute, Bangalore, National Tiger Conservation Authority in Delhi and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Training, Dehradun – to resolve crisis situations.

“Our officers from the forest department can sit at the command control room and interact with these specialists of forestry and wildlife, housed in different parts of the country, on a real-time basis. And can get quality input from their side,” said P Srivastava, additional principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF) for information technology and policy, state forest department.

He added that monitoring of the two-crore sapling plantation by the department in July can also be done using the technology. “The maps were made by integrating the management information system (MIS) with GIS through satellite technology with the help of Maharashtra Remote Sensing Applications Centre, Nagpur and then submitted to NRSC for uploading,” said Srivastava. “Currently, 1800 locations in the state are live where the plantations have survived.”

Srivastava explained the need for such a technology arose after disaster control rooms across the country, both at the central and state level, were not equipped to tackle the issue of forest fires, even though it was part of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. “Now, NRSC alerts will land directly on the forest guard’s mobile phones within minutes,” he said adding, “We will now communicate to individual forest officers not only from our state but nearby states too, to check problems and in turn our efficacy in nabbing violators fleeing into neighbouring states can also be increased.”

Forest fires have an adverse impact on the ecology. A large number of arboreal creatures as also insects and reptiles could have been died in the conflagration. A number of the small animals had died owing to their inability to escape from the blaze.

The total cost for the project was Rs1 crore, out of which 45 lakh was for construction of the technology and remaining funds were allocated for integrating it across several digital platforms.

Maharashtra Forest Department’s Command Control Centre

- Nine LED monitors to provide real-time footage of forests, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks across the state

- Polycom system to communicate with premier institutes of forest and wildlife conservation in India

- Two channels to communicate information – one with forest officers on field another with top officials taking decision from different parts of the state

- Information on illegal wildlife trade, poaching from across the state and surrounding forest areas from other states

- Tracking and controlling issues such as forest fires, illicit felling of trees and real-time monitoring of the 2 crore tree plantation drive in Maharahstra across 1800 plantation sites

(Source: Maharashtra Forest Department)

Also read:SGNP officials: Leopard, tiger and lion enclosures to be revamped