New software to help assess groundwater data in State

Groundwater Department Deputy Director K.S. Sastry explaining the software-based assessment of groundwater, in Visakhapatnam.

APGRACE will assist in formulating strategies for judicious use of water

Andhra Pradesh has come out with a pioneering software to assess groundwater data and use it to efficiently plan recharge strategies and exploitation of water resources.

The software, developed by the Andhra Pradesh Centre for Financial Systems and Services (APCFS), was used for groundwater-related data collection for 2016-17 (done in 2017-18), and awaits the approval of the State and Central governments. The software is called A.P. Groundwater Resource Assessment, Categorisation and Evaluation (APGRACE).

Using the data, strategies can be worked out on judicious use of water and its conservation.

For instance, non-rechargeable areas and rechargeable areas in the command and non-command areas are readily available, says Deputy Director of Groundwater and Water Audit K.S. Sastry, explaining the efficacy of the data collected using the software.

“Recharge projects coming under the NREGA scheme, like check dams, farm ponds, percolation tanks and contour trenches, may also be planned accordingly, resulting in better utilisation of resources,” Mr. Sastry told The Hindu on Tuesday.

Difficult process

The data collected in 2012-13 was used for computation and calibration in the development of the software.

Estimation of groundwater resources used to be a difficult process with collection of voluminous data from 13 to 14 departments on rainfall, irrigation systems, crops, crop patterns, agricultural wells, recharge structures and utilisation through various means. Doing it manually was a time-taking exercise.

The data is sent to the Union Ministry of Water Resources, with the exercise being carried out every three years after the approval by the State-level Committee. It is used in regulation, development of groundwater and in framing policies and schemes on it.

After the collection of data, it is entered manually on 50 Excel sheets with embedded links, which is a cumbersome process. Another problem was that there was no streamlined process of demarcation. In several states, a block would be taken as a unit while in Andhra Pradesh, an entire village would be considered as a unit. This problem was discussed at the State-level in the department, Mr. Sastry said.

Even Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu felt the need for collecting annual data, he said.

The idea of getting a dedicated software was proposed to then Visakhapatnam Collector Pravin Kumar by Mr. Sastry, who readily approved it and provided the necessary funding. APCFS, which deals with e-governance and IT applications and has a panel of vendors, was approached for the development of the software.