The departments of Information Technology and Forests under the Telangana government have partnered with Hyderabad-based startup Marut Drones to launch drone-based afforestation in the state under its ‘Hara Bahara’ campaign. The programme aims to plant 50 lakh seeds on 12,000 hectares across all 33 districts of the state.
Minister for Information Technology K T Rama Rao said it will be a first-of-its-kind project in the country. “Being already at the forefront of using drones for new use-cases, we are initiating Hara Bahara to plant seeds to increase the forest areas across all the districts of the state,” he said.
The ‘seedcopter’ developed by Marut Drones is an aerial seeding solution for rapid and scalable reforestation. The project uses drones to disperse seed balls over thin, barren, and empty forest lands to turn them into lush green abodes of trees. The process begins with a field survey and mapping of the terrain to understand the ecosystem and demarcate the areas that need urgent attention. This is used to determine the number and species of trees that can be planted based on the soil, climate, and other parameters.
The seed balls are prepared by local women and welfare communities and dispersed via drones in the targeted areas. Continuous monitoring is also carried out to track the growth of plants sown, said a press release.
The seedcopter drone was unveiled at the launch of AgHub and Hara Bahara initiative under the Telangana Haritha Haram programme to increase the state’s green cover, at Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) campus in Hyderabad on Monday. AgHub or Agri Innovation Hub is a first-of-its-kind incubator set up to support agritech startups and entrepreneurs in agriculture, agri-business and rural livelihoods.
IT Department officials said the drone-based afforestation project brings community, science and technology together for an inclusive, sustainable and long-lasting solution while generating employment for rural, tribal and other vulnerable communities. Its core objective is to build strong communities for afforestation and create awareness at the grassroots level on the effects of deforestation.
The state government will also carry out a survey to check the survival rate of saplings planted under the Haritha Haram afforestation programme from September 1 to 15 during the last two years in the state. A committee comprising district forest officers and other officials will check the saplings which had been geotagged when planted. Details of the saplings were also uploaded on the Telangana Forest Management Information System website.