India's Bhuvan to Challenge Google Earth

by CXOtoday Staff    Nov 05, 2008

Google Earth will soon have competition from our very own Bhuvan.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch an Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) image portal called Bhuvan, and an information portal called Bhu Sampada by March 2009.

G Madhavan Nair, chairman, ISRO while delivering the Todar Mul Lecture on ‘Benefits of Space to the Society’, said that upon being integrated with application-specific Spatial Decision Support (SDS) tools, the two portals would open up a new era of collaborative mapping in the country. These are not mere image or information browsers, but are the mechanisms for providing satellite images and thematic maps to the user community for the purpose of development planning.

Since the late 1960s, India has achieved enhanced agricultural produce through intensive irrigation, genetically improved crops, use of inorganic fertilisers and chemical pesticides. But, this has also unfortunately led to water logging and salinity in irrigated areas resulting into depleted irrigation efficiency.

“In this context, remote sensing based studies using IRS data has been carried out to arrive at solutions for enhancing the water use and reclamation of degraded lands,” he said. About 16 % of the country is characterised by wastelands which is not under optimal use. Reclamation of such lands is a must for enhancing agricultural productivity and improving ecology. Mapping and monitoring of wastelands in the entire country has been carried out using satellite sensing data. The ministry of rural development is using this information for planning and implementing reclamation activities, he said.

Nair also elaborated on the role played by space technology in societal development. The use of satellites in communications, in remote sensing, in GIS, in tele-education and in telemedicine should not be underestimated. Edusat has created more than 30,000 virtual classrooms while about 300,000 patients have been benefited by use of telemedicine. About 450 village resource centres in 22 states have also become operational.

He said that the role played by space technology in forecasting crop production, in urban morphology, in remote sensing of gases, in identifying the potential fisheries zone and prospective ground water, in watershed development and in wasteland mapping is phenomenal.

Annually, dwindling groundwater potential, lack of infrastructure, both physical and social, and increased frequency of disasters, are also matters of concern, he said. Therefore, there is an urgent need to reverse the effect of degradation with proper use of appropriate technology, he said.