India is a vast country having third largest landmass in Asia and second largest population of the world. India is a democratic country as well and all policy decisions are taken in a democratic way which requires debate and discussions at different levels and consensus building requires a considerable long time for formulating any policy both at local as well as national level.
Approximately the forest and tree cover of India is 24.1% of the geographical area of the country at present. But due to poor planning, infrastructure development like building of roads, airports, dams etc. led to loss of vast tracts of greenery year after year. Vegetation is mainly a natural phenomenon based on climatic conditions and cannot be easily created by men. Natural greenery is a manifestation of thousands of years of climatic conditions. The loss of vegetation over the years itself is sufficient to disrupt the global climatic condition and is a contributor to global warming. The ecosystem developed over thousands of years can be destabilised within a short period of time but cannot be produced by any manmade mechanism. The biodiversity can be sustained only with proper ecosystem. A biodiversity hotspot is a bio-geographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans. India has three biodiversity hotspots- The Western Ghats, The Eastern Himalayas and Indo-Burma region. The exploitation of forest resources by mankind has led to the extinction of various species in recent times. The vast biodiversity which is prevalent at the Himalayan range and other hilly areas is threatened. Due to climatic change and encroachment for cultivation purposes and large human settlement, the forestry at the foothill areas are near extinct which very much affect the ecosystem in those areas.
The only answer to the above mentioned dilemma of the humanity for sustainable development so as to cope with ecological problems along with preserving the biodiversity lies with proper study of the cause and effect of those problems. In doing so digital India concept and its implementation will give us a roadmap towards sustainable development. Collection of data on every aspect of greenery comprising tracts of forest both at rural level and urban level, mapping etc. , various technologies are used by different organisations in the country. Even a small depletion of vegetation without alternative arrangement for afforestation can not be allowed. The application of modern technologies like Remote Sensing (RS), Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global positioning System (GPS) have provided with various methods of survey, mapping and monitoring. Satellite observations are becoming essential for protecting the forest cover and overall global environment. In India leading organisation like Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is using various space borne technologies for the generation of satellite data. National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) is responsible for supply of these satellite data for various projects carried out all over the country for conservation measures. Another organisation Forest Survey of India (FSI) is responsible to prepare State of Forest report biennially providing assessment of latest forest cover in the country and monitoring changes in these. Their objective is to conduct inventory in forest and non-forest areas and develop database on forest tree resources. They also aim at preparation of thematic maps on 1:50000 scale using aerial photographs. The technologies adopted by all these organisations are advanced digital technologies. The onset of Monsoon can be predicted only because of sustained collection of data over a period of years. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has been issuing long range forecast based on statistical methods for the southwest monsoon rainfall over India for more than hundred years. IMD has implemented a dynamical prediction system by preparing 20 years model climatology (1985-2004) based on the observation of sea surface temperature data as boundary condition. The study of cloud formation is also a new phenomenon of our age; these features are becoming possible because of long-term database and its analysis through computers. Data on rainfall, temperature, soil, humidity etc. at the gram or panchayat level should be developed systematically round the year in a sustainable manner in a databank and it could be analysed and correlated for climatic changes as well as developmental aspect of the area. Alternatively the concepts should be developed in an all inclusive manner by enlightening the last man of the village also to the consequences that arise due to shrinkage of green area and its effect on biodiversity, health of men and animal, agriculture and economy of all the people. To have an inclusive growth Digital India could be complementary to Green India.
Ms. Chaichi Devi