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Maharashtra to use drones to map area under irrigation

The Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation, which manages the irrigation projects in western Maharashtra, finished the mapping of the area in Pune under irrigation by using drones two months ago.

mumbai Updated: Oct 11, 2018 00:07 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,drones,irrigation
The state now expects the area under irrigation to increase from its set figure of 18% once the real time picture is assessed.(HT File)

After its success in the pilot project in Pune, the Maharashtra government plans to use drones for mapping the area under irrigation across the state.

The state now expects the area under irrigation to increase from its set figure of 18% once the real time picture is assessed. This will also help in revenue generation.

The Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation, which manages the irrigation projects in western Maharashtra, finished the mapping of the area in Pune under irrigation by using drones two months ago. The images taken from drones were superimposed on the village maps, which gave details of the revenue, farmers and the crops they grow.

Based on the information, the department raised bills to the farmers for use of water. They were given 15 days to raise objections, if any, but very few turned up to challenge the bills.

When the authorities raised the bills, they realised that 15% more area than available on records, was under irrigation, and was not being paid for usage of water.

“The mapping was so far done by eye [visual] surveys and revenue was being paid by farmers for the use of water. According to records with the Corporation, there was 17.5 lakh hectares of land under irrigation, but drone surveys revealed it to be more than 20 lakh hectares. This also led to the rise in revenue of ₹50 crore,” said TN Munde, chief engineer, water resources department, Pune.

The department has decided to map the areas by drones for all irrigation projects in the remaining four regions. “The expenditure incurred for mapping in Pune was about ₹10 crore for 20 hectares. At the same rate, the mapping of 50 lakh hectares irrigated in the state is expected to be about ₹100 crore,” said an official from the water resources department.

The official said the drone mapping will help in registering more area under irrigation. “We do not have a scientific system for mapping actual irrigated land. It is done by the staff at village level. Many a times, manipulation was done in type of crops and even land, by showing the crop under non-irrigated area to avoid charges. If the rise in the area in Pune is reflected in rest of the state, percentage of irrigation will increase to at least 22% from the existing on-record figure of 18%. The government will be able to claim success for the rise in irrigation,” he said.

The Congress-led government had to face criticism for the rise of 0.01% in 10 years after spending ₹72,000 crore. The Fadnavis government has claimed to have increased the irrigation to 41 lakh hectares last year from 32lakh hectare in 2013-14.

“We are implementing the aerial survey methods in the rest of the state. I do not want to quote a figure for rise in irrigation data, but it would be substantial. We expect to complete it at the earliest,” said Girish Mahajan, water resources minister.

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 00:07 IST