PUNE: Officials of the state irrigation department have commenced the drone-based mapping of irrigated land in the state, which will enable them to collect water cess.
As a part of the pilot project, the state irrigation department will survey the Khadakwasla dam region and the Pench region in Nagpur. The collection of water cess depends on the crop grown in the area, and the department had proposed the use of drone technology to map the areas to ensure transparent water cess collection, said irrigation officials.
The Chitale committee, in its recommendations, had highlighted that the state lacked a proper mechanism to measure irrigated land. While satellite maps were used for the purpose, the photos would not identify the crop cultivated. So, drone technology was suggested, an official said.
"We have started the pilot in Pune and Nagpur, and once the government sanctions the funds it will be replicated across the state. The project will take at least a year to complete, once it is cleared by the water resources department," Avinash Surve, executive director of the Vidarbha irrigation circle, said.
The Pune region has 13 lakh hectares under irrigation, while the state has 47 lakh hectares. "We lack the manpower for a manual survey — the government has not approved additional recruitments. We need a person dedicated to even a Google Maps-based survey. With drones, we can cover a large area and also get to know the crops cultivated," Surve added.
Officials said photos taken by the drone will be superimposed upon the actual maps, which will help them get a clear picture of irrigation sources and the land under cultivation.
Adding that this is the first time drones are being used for such a purpose, officials said, "Correct assessment of land might reflect the potential of irrigation in the state. Once completed, the pilot will be assessed by the water resources department. If found useful, it will be replicated across the state."