All ecologically sensitive areas in each district of Maharashtra will now be mapped using Geographical Information System (GIS), for gathering information across over 30 parameters including natural ones such as forest covers, and man-made ones such as human settlements. The Maharashtra government had earlier directed the district administrations in the state to appoint consultants with expertise in the field to carry out surveys and prepare the maps.
A government resolution to this effect was issued by the Urban Development department last week.
The map will have a minimum of 33 layers, one for each of the parameters which are to be drawn out, and the process will be carried out in five stages. It will begin with acquiring a base geographical map of the region. Following this, it will be superimposed with satellite images acquired using high-resolution drones, preparing a zonal master plan, and a sub-zonal master plan. The government will also prepare a tourism master plan by gathering data as per the tourism development plans of each of the districts, and geo-tagging government-approved resorts and stays.
The 33 layers will include information about forest areas, forest-like areas, vegetation cover, natural water bodies, availability of groundwater, ecologically sensitive zones, zones with wildlife biodiversity, hilly slopes, and areas that are 1000 meters above sea level. It will map man-made aspects such as human settlement, villages categorised as per type of fuel used, road network, sites for solid waste disposal, sites for sewage treatment plants, authorised mining sites, windmill locations, water lines, high-tension wires, and mobile towers. Buffer zones around ecologically sensitive areas and around tiger reserves will be plotted on separate maps.
The maps will also include information on historical places and sight-seeing spots. Areas prone to seismic activity, landslide, floods and fire will also be mapped. A graphical data sheet will be created to track change in forestation and vegetation, and in habitation over the years.