Department of Ecology Environment
& Remote Sensing J&K


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Remote Sensing refers to the science and art of obtaining information about an object, area or phenomenon through the analysis of data acquired by a device that is not in contact with the object, area or phenomenon under investigation (Lillesand; Kiefer, 2000). We can describe our surroundings better if we look around while standing at the top of a hillock then from its base. At the top of hill our eyes act as remote sensors, which receive the reflected light energy from the landscape around. This sensed energy gets converted into a stimulus, which reaches the brain where it is analyzed to obtain information about the landscape. It is here that the science of remote sensing works. (Rashid. H, 2002). The space application programme of the country is making a significant contribution in solving some of the major problems of natural resources management and conservation. The technique of remote sensing enhances the capability of surveying and monitoring the natural resources at an extremely low cost and high speed. The technique is especially useful in hilly terrain and inaccessible areas. Imagine the cost and time involved in conventional field surveys which can not be repeated at short intervals. In most cases, it has been observed that the data generated through such surveys become outdated even before the execution stage. Therefore, the technique of remote sensing enables to generated a cost and time effective near accurate database on the natural resources ASTER also has along track stereo capability. Accuracies obtainable from these stereo data are in the range of +/- 15m x,y and z with ideal conditions.


Remote Sensing in India

The history of remote sensing for natural resources survey and monitoring in India started with the launch of its first geostationary, sun synchronous satellite named IRS 1A mission from Russian launch vehicle VOSTOK on 17-03-1988.. The quality of the data was good but no match to the high quality imagery provided by the Landsat series. This was followed by the launch of IRS 1B on 29.08.1991. IRS 1B was followed by 1250 kg IRS 1C and it was launched on 28.12.1995 by Russian built Molnia launch vehicle from USSR. The Indian Space Research Organization made its first major leap by launching 920 kg IRS P3 mission on 21.03.1996 using its indigenously built PSLV launch vehicle from Indian soil. The IRS 1C mission had two cameras LISS III giving a spectral resolution of 4 bands, spatial resolution of 23.5 m, radiometric resolution of 7 bits and temporal resolution of 26 days. Its Panchromatic camera provided imagery with a spatial resolution of 5.8 m. The resolution merging technique enabled generation of high resolution multi-spectral data from the raw LISS III and PAN data and this earned a huge market inland and abroad. The IRS 1C was again followed by IRS 1D mission and it was launched 29.09.1997 with the help of indigenously built PSLV C1 satellite launch vehicle. The IRS 1D provided imagery of similar quality as IRS 1C. On 26.05.1999, 1050 kg IRS P4 mission was launched with the help of PSLV C2 satellite launch vehicle. This mission was followed by IRS P6 and the scientist community of ISRO is marching towards new heights.


Remote Sensing in J&K

Jammu & Kashmir has a peculiar physiographic setup which range from plains to Himalayan foothills and from middle Himalayas to greater Himalayas with picturesque valleys including the valley of Kashmir. It has varied cultural, social, religious and environmental setup. The state has some of the most famous and ecologically fragile lake ecosystems which demand continuous monitoring using specialized tools of remote sensing and GIS. The state has tremendous potential for generation of hydroelectric power in the future besides exploration of new tourist sites in the inaccessible areas. Before such projects are taken in hand, we need to conduct multidisciplinary surveys of the catchments, and inaccessible and ecologically fragile areas. The environmental Impact Assessment of the all the major projects need to be carried out using the technique of remote sensing. The cities of Srinagar, Jammu, Leh and other towns are growing at an alarming rate. The city of Srinagar is growing at the expense of productive horticultural plantations, wetlands and water bodies and other green areas. There is problem of drainage. Therefore, the planners need to develop a scientific mechanism wherein major inputs can be provided by the Remote sensing Centre of the Department of Environment using high resolution satellite data and Geographical Information System. This would ensure eco-development of the city and conservation of its fragile lakes and other natural resources.


The J&K State Remote Sensing Centre has great potential in providing real time digital database for developing efficient decision support systems for chalking out judicious management and conservation strategies that could finally lead to e-governance of natural resources in the state besides managing natural disasters. Some of the major applications of remote sensing and geo-informatics are described here as under:

1. Flood damage assessment
The Centre has the capability to provide real time information on flood damages in the state. The centre has the necessary infrastructure in terms of hardware and software to carry out such studies. The data on villages and crop land inundated during floods could prove to be extremely useful for the district administration to take rational relief measures on scientific lines.

2. Human settlement analysis for urban planning of cities and towns
The high resolution satellite imageries like IKONOS, Quick bird and indigenous Cartosat can be used to generate real time accurate and detailed maps on urban land resource, road network etc. to provide the basic inputs for planning our cities and towns. This could help in updating the master plans. Only the govt. needs to develop a coordinating mechanism between the user departments and the State remote Sensing centre which in fact is possible if the centre is reorganized and expanded to address the needs of the user departments. So far the Centre has failed to address the requirements of the user departments because of lack of direction, limited resources.

3. Agricultural Yield Forecasting
The seasonal remote sensing imagery provides an opportunity to monitor agricultural crop and to forecast the yield of various crops so that the market prices are planned and regulated in a more scientific manner well before the harvesting stage. This can be one of the most important inputs to the agricultural department.

4. State’s Forest Cover monitoring
The multidate satellite imagery enables to monitor the forest cover of the state. The resources within the forest department and the State remote sensing centre can be pooled to address the problem. The ultimate aim would be to develop a forest information system which can be accessed at various administrative levels to increase the efficiency of management of the forest land and its resources.

5. Monitoring of Lakes
The capacity of the State remote sensing centre can be built to address the need to monitor the lakes and other wetlands of the state in a continuous manner. This can go a long way in providing basic inputs to organizations like LAWDA, Wular Manasbal Development Authority etc.

6. Environmental Impact Assessment of Hydroelectric Projects
The state has tremendous potential for hydroelectric power and the government has already identified sites for laying out a number of hydroelectric projects. As an important prerequisite, the sites need to be environmentally evaluated and remote sensing technique together with GIS provides an opportunity to conduct EIA of these projects.

7. Development of Tourist Resource Information system
The J&K State Remote Sensing Centre has the potential to identify unexplored inaccessible tourism potential sites of the state which can be brought on the tourist map.

8. Development of information system on public amenities and natural resources
Under NRIS project, the Centre has already completed the generation of a detailed database on the demographic and public amenities at village level for the entire state. This data shall be made available to the district administration and other user departments at the district headquarters in the near future.



  • Scientific investigation of state's natural resources through the use of space application technology and geographical information systems.
  • To provide a mechanism of reflex action with regard to occurences of floods, droughts and other natural calamities, so that real-time base line information id generated through the use of remote sensing techniques to access the extent of damages due to such natural calamities.
  • To develop an accurate digital database on natural resources, infrastructure and socio-economic profile of the state for developing efficient decision support systems useful in evolving judicious planning, management and conservation strategies.
  • To develop a repository of digital as well as analog data on the natural resources of the state.

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