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Geospatial Technologies in Water Sector by NMCG


Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) released a detailed report on the opportunities in the Water sector that can benefit from the use of Geospatial technologies.


Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology (Space Technology, Recent Developments in technology and their applications in daily life), GS-I: Geography (Water resource in India)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. India’s water-woes
  2. What are geospatial technologies?
  3. Potential of Geospatial Technologies for the Water Sector in India
  4. National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

India’s water-woes

  • According to the data provided by the Ministry of Water Resources (now Ministry of Jal Shakti) in 2017, average annual per capita water availability fell from more than 1800 cubic meters assessed in 2001 to just over 1500 cubic meters in 2011.
  • The data also highlighted the possibility of average annual water availability per person reducing further to 1341 and 1140 in the years 2025 and 2050 respectively.
  • The water availability of water stressed/water scarce regions of the country is much below the national average due to the high temporal and spatial variation of precipitation.
  • According to the Global Annual Report, 2018 by the WaterAid, the water and sanitation advocacy group, India ranked at the top of 10 countries with lowest access to clean water close to home, with more than 16 crore people not having such access.
  • According to a UNICEF Report in 2021, India has 4% of the world’s freshwater which has to cater to 17% of the world’s population.
  • The UNICEF report of 2021 says that nearly 40% of the population in India will have absolutely no access to drinking water by 2030 and 6% of India’s GDP will be lost by 2050 due to the water crisis.

What are geospatial technologies?

  • Geospatial is a term widely used to describe the combination of spatial software and analytical methods with terrestrial or geographic datasets. The term is often used in conjunction with geographic information systems and geomatics, never separately.
  • “Geospatial technologies” is a term used to describe the range of modern tools contributing to the geographic mapping and analysis of the Earth and human societies.
  • These technologies have been evolving in some form since the first maps were drawn in prehistoric times.
  • In the 19th century, the long important schools of cartography and mapmaking were joined by aerial photography as early cameras were sent aloft on balloons and pigeons, and then on airplanes during the 20th century.
  • The science and art of photographic interpretation and map making was accelerated during the Second World War and during the Cold War it took on new dimensions with the advent of satellites and computers.
  • Satellites allowed images of the Earth’s surface and human activities therein with certain limitations.
  • Computers allowed storage and transfer of imagery together with the development of associated digital software, maps, and data sets on socioeconomic and environmental phenomena, collectively called geographic information systems (GIS).

Potential of Geospatial Technologies for the Water Sector in India

  • The Association of Geospatial Industries released a report titled “Potential of Geospatial Technologies for the Water Sector in India” which mentions opportunities in the Water sector that can benefit from the use of Geospatial technologies.
  • Geospatial and digital technologies like Satellite Based Remote Sensing, GPS Based Equipment and Sensors, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things, 5G, Robotics and Digital Twin, can be effectively used to combat the water crisis.

Way Forwards: Geospatial technology and Water usage

  • In order to derive maximum benefit from geospatial technology implementation in various programmes, user departments need to build a long-term vision of the outcomes of geospatial implementation.
  • An integrated collaborative platform to connect the data and technology used by various organizations need to be developed for seamless access to information both locally and nationally and enable decision making.
  • Various datasets including demography, socio-cultural, economic, and other parameters need to be integrated with spatial and non-spatial data related to water, like soil moisture, annual rainfall, rivers, aquifer, groundwater levels, water quality etc.
  • Agriculture sector use 80-85% of water resources, while have only about 30-35% efficiency of water use – so, Geospatial technologies can be used for increasing water use efficiency to at least 50%.

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was registered as a society on under the Societies Registration Act 1860.
  • The government had set up the Clean Ganga Fund in 2014 – Using the funded money to finance NMCG (National Mission for Clean Ganga 2011), cleaning the river, setting up Waste Treatment Plants, Conservation of river biodiversity and related R&D projects.
  • NMCG is the implementation wing of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council NGC).
  • The NMCG now has the status of an Authority and its key focus would be maintaining required ecological flows in the Ganga, abate pollution through planning, financing and execution of programmes including that of –
    1. Augmentation of Sewerage Infrastructure
    2. Catchment Area Treatment
    3. Protection of Floodplains
    4. Creating Public Awareness

-Source: PIB

November 2023