Remote Sensing & GIS are duo for Resource Mapping, Monitoring and Planning – Sumit Maheshwari

Sumit Maheshwari
Remote Sensing and GIS Expert
NABET Accredit Consultant

Sumit Maheshwari is a Remote Sensing and GIS Expert. He has been working from last 12 years in RS and GIS domain. He was fascinated by this field from his college studies. He has worked with many organization like RRSC/ISRO, SRSAC-GoR and PDCOR. He has done number of national level projects like LULC, Wasteland, Watershed, Land Degradation, State Water Grid Plan and many more. He is also a QCI-NABET accredit consultant and designated as Functional Area Expert (FAE)-LU for the purpose of Environmental Impact Assessment studies. He said Remote Sensing and GIS are duo for resource mapping, monitoring and timely up gradation as per need. Currently he and his team are working on river interlinking and water planning projects for Rajasthan state. Here he share his journey, experience, future plan and RS/GIS massive knowledge with us.

Q1. Tell about your educational and professional journey?

After completing my Master’s in Geoinformatics and dissertation work at IIRS-Dehradun. I started my career as guest faculty in MDS, University Ajmer. The reason behind this is before my degree i was in teaching profession that fascinates me to continue it after that, with an added field of GIS and Remote Sensing. With nearly one year of exposure I felt that this is not only theory but a research field to work on. Later I joined RRSC-W/ISRO (Regional Remote Sensing Centre-West), Jodhpur as Project Scientist. This place becomes a boom for my career and to flourish my knowledge in the field and enhance my potential.
With over 7 years of work experience in various National Resource Mapping Mission and Watershed Development and Monitoring projects with RRSC/ISRO and SRSAC-GoR, I further moved on for greater opportunity in Government/Private sector company PDCOR Ltd. (Project Development Corporation of Rajasthan – JV of IL&FS group and Govt. of Rajasthan) as a Senior Consultant. Presently I am working with this organization for last 5 years mainly into large scale planning projects of water and urban which are of utmost importance to Rajasthan state. I am also a QCI-NABET accredit consultant and designated as Functional Area Expert (FAE)-LU for the purpose of Environmental Impact Assessment studies.

Q2. Why did you choose Remote Sensing as a career?

Surprisingly the logo of ISRO was the charm and attraction towards it. ISRO was launching various high resolution satellites and preparing for indigenous GPS system. Later on the practical exposure received during internship at IIRS-Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun boost the overall moral to continue and choose Remote Sensing and GIS as a career.

Q3. How many types of projects have you done in your career?

There are n numbers of research, national mission, planning, and mapping projects undergone by me in this small career span. Some of them are of utmost use at state and national level. For example:
1. National Land Use/Land Cover Mapping of Rajasthan State at 1:50K scale on IRS-P6 LISS-III satellite data (Under 12th Five Year Plan – GoI)
2. NRMS Land Use/Land Cover/Wastelands/Crop Acreage Mapping at 1:250K scale on IRS-P6 AWiFS satellite data for Gujarat and Rajasthan. Later on similar to this project FASAL and CHAMAN projects for estimation of Agriculture status in India were initiated.
3. SIS-DP: Space base Information System for Decentralized Planning
4. Topographical Survey, Geo-Technical investigation of various planning and mapping projects
5. Rajasthan State Water Grid Plan: Ensure drinking water security for the entire State right upto Gram Panchayat level

Q4. People think that GIS is only to make things digital? What do you think and is it useful for us?

For sure, GIS had change the way we live. Common man had a very little bit information and understanding about it. Now use of GIS is very much open to all whether booking a cab, ordering food or live tracking of your vehicle, asset & resource mapping, GIS is backbone for all. The geographic data which was previously captioned on printed map/s with a little or of no use for mass scale is now after advancement in IT & Web development become frontend. User can directly communicate, use and retrieve desired information with its geographic linkage. Now a day’s Government is also keenly interested in planning and implementing its policies with GIS utilities and tools. Remote Sensing and GIS are duo for resource mapping, monitoring and timely up gradation as per need. For ex. Hydrological studies for Dam, barrage construction, river channelization, river front development, master planning of urban-rural cities, crop acreage estimation, drought and hazard mapping and monitoring etc.

Q5. Have you ever seen a big difference between the output of old manual mapping and remote sensing mapping in various projects like LULC, Land Degradation and Wasteland?

By the time, advancement in technology leads to showcase a major difference in thematic and utility mapping like LULC, Land Degradation etc. Manual interpretation on unclear and low resolution data always lead to bigger error in statistics and output thus derived. By automation and new tools with software development make it ease and output data more reliable, moreover high resolution data and mapping technique are now available for finer mapping. By digitalization of data it is now become easier to update the same in a regular interval of time which was previously not possible at all.

Q6. How do you see Remote Sensing and GIS as a career option for future?

Some fields are established enough like Civil, IT, Management, etc. GIS in its preliminary stages is very tough to cope up with as it require a depth understanding of geography, physics and statistics with advanced knowledge in computing and software development for one to flourish in this stream. Time being good work experience is require to better understand and for growth. It is one of the unique fields where one can utilize his/her interpretational skills with growing technology. Advancement in surveying, with UAV, LiDAR and conventional methods add an extra edge in this career. If you opt for research in this stream there are ample opportunities available with ISRO & Statewide Remote Sensing and IT departments. GIS based private sector companies are involved in Zonal/Regional/Master plan at city and Town level, Water resources, Network planning, Utility Mapping (sewerage, electric, roads, rail etc), Web development, Geotechnical surveying, cadastral mapping and digitalization services. This shows the wide spread applications of GIS, so it is very clear that skilled manpower is required to accomplish all these tasks.

Q7. Currently you are working on which project?

Presently I and my team are working on river interlinking and water planning projects for Rajasthan state. I am sharing some insight into it.
The per capita annual water availability in the State is about 690 cum against 1000 cum. It is feared that the availability would fall below 450 cum by the year 2050 and is below international accepted norms of 500 cum which is considered as absolute water scarcity, the State is heading towards it. Keeping this in consideration Govt of Rajasthan had given us mandate to prepare a blue print to mitigate the water crises by inclusion of river interlinking, water recycle and reuse, and suggestive saving methods with judicious use of surface water to overcome this situation.
Some major interlinings which are under consideration and everyone in Rajasthan should know that how their share of water is not planned yet and getting unutilized:
1. Mahi River water from Mahi Dam flowing in Gujarat.
2. Share of Yamuna River water, since 1994
3. Linking Brahmini River to Banas-Bisalpur Dam, flowing in MP
4. Sabarmati river water flowing to Gujarat which originates from Rajasthan
5. Chambal river and its tributary water to UP and MP
If this untapped water gets tapped Rajasthan will become water surplus state in terms of domestic uses. We had tried our level best to put all the information and GIS based data into State Water Grid, reports and via portal submitted to Government of Rajasthan.