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Integrated micro level watershed management for drought-prone rural areas: a remote sensing approach.


Sustainable development of rural areas involves conservation of land and management of water resources. With the increasing pressure of the ever growing human and cattle population, increased living standards and the concomitant economic activities are exerting tremendous pressure on the finite natural resources (APSRAC 1994). Due to lack of advance planning and Non-judicious/indiscriminate use of natural resources, ground water levels are getting depleted and lands are getting either degraded or turning into waste lands .An integrated approach is thus needed for the analysis and formulation of the plan of action. (CRIDA-1987).


Bestavaripet watershed, located in the Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh is confined in between longitudes 79[degrees] 30' E- 79 [degrees]15' E and latitudes 150 30' N-15[degrees] 40' N .The area is subjected to recurring drought due to scanty and erratic rainfall in its temporal and spatial distribution, combined with precarious agricultural condition. The rock formations in the study region include shales, phyllites and quartzites belonging to the cuddapah super group (Precambrian) with the ground water occurring in the pore spaces and fractures.


Major rivers streams and streamlets are drawn on 1:50.000 scale. Through an overlay of these details on the post monsoon image. The stream network map is prepared. The extent of surface water layer spread during the monsoon in the tanks, reservoirs and ponds is indicated. The spatial analysis of the socioeconomic data along with infrastructure facilities of the revenue villages is carried over for locating (NRSA 1997)

1) Socially and economically backward areas.

2) Villages lacking economic infrastructure and basic amenities.

A social economic ranking system is assigned to each village and on this basis the classification of villages is carried out.

The hydrogeomorphology map (Figure 1) contains geomorphic units delineated on the image characteristics like tone, texture, shape, colour and associations. (Sameena et al 2000) Available geologicalmaps, published literature as also other information are also used.(Dwivedi 1993)

Land use/Land cover map (Figure 2) is prepared using visual image interpretation techniques in conjunction with collateral data such as topo maps and census records.(Rao 1998)

Slope analysis was carried out using Survey of India topo maps on 1:50,000 scale with 20m contour interval. The resulting map is presented in Figure 3.

The soil map prepared using image interpretation along with field studies up to the association series level is presented in figure 4.

The flow sheet showing the sequence of steps adopted in the present work is shown in figure 5.







The thematic maps generated for the study region have brought out detailed information. The land use land cover reveals the extent of crops forestland, settlements and water bodies. Details are presented in Table 1.

The hdrogeomorphological features as inferred from the figure1 are indicated in table 2.

The piedmont zone is unconsolidated sediment of cobbles, pebbles, boulders, sand and slit deposited due to the coalescence of different alluvial fans formed by the streams extended along the foothills with gentle slopes. The moderately weathered shales and phyllites with more than five meters of weathering cover of red soil give moderate yields. However good yields are expected along fractures and lineaments. Shallow weathered buried pediplain is a smooth surface of weathered shales and phyllites with less than five meters of thickness are generally covered with black soils with moderate to good ground water yields. The linear ridges of cumbum and bairenkonds quartzites with moderate to steep dips, parallel to the structural trend are folded. Ground water prospects in both the ridges are poor. The categories of slopes in the study area along with distribution are indicated in table 3.

The vellikonda reserved forest in the study region comprises very steep (>35%)sloping areas. Majority of the area exhibits to moderate slopes. The physicochemical properties of soils in terms of particle size distribution, pH, electrical conductivity, calcium carbonate [sub.2][O.sub.5] K [sub.2]O and estimation of exchangeable cat ions (Ca, Mg , Na, K etc.) have been carried out the results of which are used for crop suitability classification.

Soils of the area are divided into various irrigability classes (table4) on the basis of land characteristics like slope percent, drainage and depth of the water table. Much of the study region confirms to class2. Heavy texture i.e clay loam to loam and consequent low permeability coupled with poor surface drainage owing to low relief are the major limitations for crop growth, land evaluation for its suitability is carried out for specific crops like to tobacco rice cotton chilies and sunflower based on soil depth, texture, pH and electrical conductivity.

The soil suitability rating for specified crops is as follows: (Table 5)

Soil classification has been carried out up to the series level. The major orders are Entisols, Inceptisols, Altisols and Vertisols. The great groups are Ustorthents. Ustropepts, Hpliustalfs, Rhodustalfs etc. the dominant family classes are loamy skeletal, Mixed, Iso-hyperthermic, Lethic Ustorthents. typic ustorthents, Ustropepts etc. Various soil series/association are identified (table 6).

Parent material and topography have influenced the soil formation to a great extent. The shallow skeletal soils occur over hills/linear ridges and eroded parts of the plateau. Deep soils occur in the buried and lower pediplains. Soils of the study region belong to the subgroups Lithic Ustorthents, Typic Ustorthents, Typic Ustropepts, Typic Haplustarfs and Typic Rhodudtalfs. The soils in general are categorized as II, III, IV and VII of land capability units. While the irrigable soils are categorized as 2,3 and 4 of land irrigability classes. erosion and associated problems are the limitations of the land capability. Drainage soil and topography are the limitations in case of land irrigability. Land evaluation for specific crops showed that soils occurring over lower pediplains and buried pediplains is suitable for most of the crops with slight to moderate limitations. Soils of salt affected category support only rice.


The ecological imbalance caused due to distortion in the interrelationship between man and nature be rectified by considering people and nature as apart of a whole. The socio-economic data are analyzed at revenue village level to prioritize all the villages covered in the study area in terms of socioeconomic backwardness by adopting a ranking system methodology.

The socio-economic backwardness is estimated by considering the parameters namely concentration of population of weaker sections (scheduled casted /scheduled tribes) literacy, basic amenities, health facilities, educational institutions and dominance of occupation.

Socio-economic data along with infrastructural facilities are analyzed spatially to evaluate the social as well as economic backwardness and to examine the villages lacking basic amenities. In the ranking system (table&),villages with lower level of development are assigned less marks. The higher the mark, the more developed are the areas.

Twenty one villages in all are prioritized on this basis. Typical ranking system for selected villages are indicated in table 8

The socio economic ranking system reveals that Kishnapuram and Pothavaram (revenue villages)with an aggregate of 12 marks each are the least developed places in the study area. Most of the crops grown are dry crops. Agriculturists in the block may be encouraged to expand new areas with fruit crops such as citrus, mango, sapota, guava as also with vegetables.

A sustainable development programme based on the optimal use of natural resources available in the area for the improvement of socioeconomic conditions of the inhabitants of the area is evolved, an action plan (Table9) is evolved for entire region. The drought proofing works suggested for water resources managements are in terms of rain water harvesting structures, soil and moistures conservation measures fodder / fuel wood/ forest development measures and strip plantations/shelter belt along the roads railway tracks check dams and percolation tanks.


The generation of alternative land use/ land cover practices for natural resources management involves careful study of thematic maps both individually as well as on an integrated basis. Keeping in view of the conservation and improvement o the available arable and non arable land, action plans are generated on an integrated basis for different land use systems based on systematic assessment of physical capability social acceptability economic viability and technical feasibility. In this study socioeconomic evaluation has been carried out initially and later integrated with corresponding drainage basin subunits. Suitable measures are recommended for wasteland reclamation to establish vegetative cover, agro forestry agro horticultural development etc.

The approach in this paper incorporating the socioeconomic database for integrated water resource management can be adopted for similar drought prone areas elsewhere.


1. APSRAC., 1994,Intregrated study to combat drought on sustainable basis through space applications. ,a pilot project for implementation in anjuvanka Watershed . Ananthapur district, A.P.

2. Central research institute for Dryland Agriculture .1987 .Alternate Land use System for Drylands of India .Research Bulletin No. 6 CRIDA. Hyderabad .

3. Dwivedi., R.S,1993 The role of remote sensing in watershed management .Asian -pacific Remote sensing Journal ,6(1)

4. National Remote sensing Agency ,India 1977 .Integrated mission for sustainable development ,tech guidelines for soil description.

5. Rao, U.R 1988.Space and drought management .current session 39th IAFCongress ,Bangalore .special publication ISRO-sp 44-89,5-11.

6. Sbins, F.E 1977 Remote Sensing Principles and Interpretation, New York : Jonh Wiley.

7. Sameena , M. Krishna Murthy ,J .Mukund Rao ., Jaya Raman ,V and Ranganna, T,2000, Integrated approach for demarcation of ground water prospective zones in hard rock terrain--through remote sensing and GIS technique. 31st international Geological congress Rio de Janerio,Brazil.

Corresponding author:Dr. P.Venkateswarlu,Centre for Environment,Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University,Kukatpally,Hyderabad--500 072,India

P. Venkateswarlu (1), K. Kiran, (1) Y. Ramamohan, and M. Anji Reddy (1) (1)Centre for Environment, Institute of Science &Technology, Kukatpally, JNT University, Hyderabad--500 072, India
Table 1. Area statistics of land use/ land cover

S.No Category Area Percent Area

1 Khariff irrigated 13.8 5.40
2 Khariff Unirrigated 108.1 42.60
3 Double Crop 52.3 20.70
4 Fallow 1.7 0.69
5 Plantation 0.5 0.22
6 Forest Open 13.3 5.20
7 Degraded forest 20.3 8.00
8 Forest Plantation 0.05 0.02
9 Gulled/ Ravinous 0.09 0.03
10 Land with/ With Out Scrub 34.6 13.60
11 Barren Sheet Rock Area 1.3 0.51
12 Water Bodies 2.0 0.82

Table 2. Area statistics of hydrogeomorphological features

S.No Category Area Percent
 ([Km.sup.2]) Area

1 Piedmont Zone (PZ) 14.3 5.6
2 Moderately Weathered Pediplain (PPM) 13.1 5.1
3 Shallow Weathered /buried 77 30.4
 pediplainPediplain (PPS)
3 Shallow Weathered Pediplain (PPS) 99 39.2
4 Moderately Weathered Pediplain (PPM/CQ) 7.1 2.8
5 Shallow Weathered Pediplain (PPS/CQ) 2.1 0.8
6 Pediment 2.2 0.8
7 Linear Ridge ( L/CQ) 3.3 1.3
8 Structural Hill (SH/CQ) 11.4 4.5
9 Linear Ridge (L/BQ) 0.8 0.3
10 Structural Hill (SH/BQ) 19.4 7.6

Table 3. Area statistics of slope categories

S.No Category Slope% Area Percent
 ([km.sup.2]) Area

1 1 0-1 190.3 75.1
2 2 1-3 14.9 5.8
3 3 3-5 8.2 3.2
4 4 5-10 4.3 1.7
5 5 10-15 10.3 4.0
6 6 15-35 20.9 8.2
7 7 >35 3.2 1.6

Table 4. Soil and land irrigability class

S.No Soil Land Problems Management needs
 class class/

1 B 2 Unfavorable Provision of
 moderate drainage, controlled
 permeability, irrigation,
 imperfect to off-season tillage
 poor drainage.

2 B 2 Susceptibility Systematic land
 to erosion, development,
 fine texture in irrigation
 subsurface scheduling,
 horizons, provision of
 moderate to drainage

3 C 3 Moderate soil Land
 depth, severe development,
 erosion, low choice of crops
 water-holding to suit root
 capacity and zone
 rapid limitations

4 D 4 Shallow soil Land
 depth, very development
 severe erosion, selection of
 surface with shallow rooted
 gravel , low crops,
 water- holding irrigation
 capacity, rapid scheduling at
 permeability closer
 clearance of

5 D 4 Salinity and Land shaping
 sodicity and land
 hazard, poor leveling
 drainage, slow provision of
 permeability, effective
 unfavourable internal
 texture drains,
 reclamation by
 addition of
 suitable soil
 growing salt
 tolerable crops

6 E 6 Very shallow Unsuitable for
 soil depth, irrigation
 steep slopes
 with gravel and
 stones, very
 low water

Table 5: Soil suitability rating

S.No Rice Cotton / Chilies Tobacco Sunflower

1 N N N N
2 S4 S4 S3 S3
3 N S4 N S4
4 S3 S3 S2 S4
5 S3 S3 S2 S2
6 S2 S3 S1 S3
6 S2 S1 S1 S3
7 S2 S3 S2 S3
8 S2 S2 S3 S3
9 S1 S1 S2 S2
10 S1 S2 S2 S2
11 S4 N N N
12 S1 S2 S2 S2
13 N N N N
14 S2 S3 S2 S3

S1 -- High suitable
S2 -- Suitable with slight limitation
S3 -- Moderately suitable with moderate limitation
S4 -- Marginally suitable with severe limitations
N -- Not suitable

Table 6: Area statistics of soil categories

S. No Category Area Percent
 ([km.sup.2]) area

1. Loamy /Skeletal /Mixed/ 39.8 15.7
 Lithic/ Ustrothents

2. Loamy /Skeletal /Mixed/ 20.8 8.2
 Isohyperthermic/ Typic/
 Lithic/ Ustrothents

3. Fine Loamy /Mixed/ Clayey 9.0 3.5
 Skeletal /
 Isohyperthermic/ Typic/

4. Fine Loamy /Mixed/ 0.63 0.2
 Clayey Skeletal
 Typic/ Rhodolustalfs/

5. Fine Loamy /Mixed/ 24.7 9.7
 Isohyperthermic/ Typic/

6. Fine Loamy /Mixed/ 6.5 2.5
 Isohyperthermic/ Typic/
 Haplustalfs/ Rhodolustalfs

7. Fine Loamy /Mixed/ 29.3 11.6
 Isohyperthermic/ Ustrpets
 /Typic/ Haplustalfs

8. Fine Montimorillonidric/ 73.2 28.9
 Chromic/ Typic / Haplustalfs

9. Fineloemy/ Mixed/ 16.9 6.7
 Typic/ Acqic/
 Ustropepts (saline/ Sodic)

10. Fineloemy/ Mixed/ 11.0 4.8
 Isohyperthermic/ Typic/
 Acqic/ Ustropepts / Haplustalfs

11. Fineloemy/ Mixed/ 14.9 5.9
 Isohyperthermic/ Typic/
 Acqic/ Ustropepts (Saline/Sodic)

Table 7 : Socio-economic ranking system

S.No Parameter Total Distribution of Marks

1. Concentration of Schedule 15 < 25% - 6
 Caste population 25-50% - 4
 50-75% - 3
 25-100% - 2

2. Concentration of Shedule 15 < 25% - 6
 Tribe population 25-50% - 4
 50-75% - 3
 25-100% - 2

3. Literacy 15 < 25% - 6
 25-50% - 4
 50-75% - 3
 25-100% - 2

4. Basic amenities 15 Drinking water -5
 Post office -3
 Telephone -1
 Telegraph -1
 Pucca road -3
 Bus stop -3

5. Health facilities 15 Dispensary -4
 PHC -5
 Hospital -6

6. Educational institutions 15 Middle school -4
 High school -5
 Junior college -6

7. Dominance of occupation 10 Agriculture labour
 <25% -1
 >25% -1
 <25% -2
 >25% -1
 <25% -2
 >25% -3

Table 8 :Socioeconomic backwardness ranking for few selected villages

S. Village Name SC ST Literacy Basic
No Po-p Po-p Amenities

1. Bestavavaripet 6 6 9 15
2. D.Krishna 6 6 0 0
3. Galijeragulla 6 6 5 13
4. J.Krishnapuram 6 6 5 13
5. Potavaram 6 6 0 0
6. Retlapalle 6 6 2 5

S. Village Name Health Educational Occupation Total
No facility Institutions

1. Bestavavaripet 15 9 4 64
2. D.Krishna 0 0 0 12
3. Galijeragulla 9 9 6 54
4. J.Krishnapuram 0 0 4 34
5. Potavaram 0 0 0 12
6. Retlapalle 0 0 6 15

* Villages with least total needed high priority attention

Table-9 : Action plan suggesting alternative land
use/landcover practices

S.No Recommendations Area ([Km.sup.2])

1. Gap plantation 13.2
2. Agro-horticulture 19.4
3. Inter cropping 14.0
4. Silvipasture 1.0
5. Agro-forestry(Salt resistant) 10.3
6. Fodder/ fuel wood 17.7
7. Slope stabilization 0.09
8. Afforestration 4.0
9. Commercial plantation 15.6
10. Silvipasture (salt resistant ) 18.7
11. Inter cropping 6.7
12. Horticulture 74.7
13. Horticulture plantation 0.2
14. Agro forestry 15.6
15. Forest plantation 0.09
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Author:Venkateswarlu, P.; Kiran, K.; Ramamohan, Y.; Reddy, M. Anji
Publication:Bulletin of Pure & Applied Sciences-Geology
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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