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TNAU lends technical expertise for cyclone damage assessment

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle deployed by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University assesses extent of damage caused to banana plantations in Lalgudi block in Tiruchi.THEHINDUHANDOUT

The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) has extended its technical expertise in precisely assessing the extent of damages caused to trees and plantations in the delta region and parts of Tiruchi district by deploying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to cover areas affected by cyclone Gaja.

The exercise is being carried out by a 10-member team from the TNAU, Coimbatore, and the Centre for Aerospace Research of the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Chennai, in association with the State Departments of Agriculture and Horticulture. The initiative has been taken up on the instruction of the TNAU Vice Chancellor N. Kumar to support the State government in assessing the extent of damages caused by the cyclone.

Led by Prof. S. Palanivelan, Head, Department of Remote Sensing and GIS, TNAU, Coimbatore, the damage assessment mission was launched on Wednesday at Lalgudi block in Tiruchi revenue district utilising the plane-type UAV with fixed wing as well as quadcopter UAV equipped with rotating wings for field-level damage assessment.

Equipped with digital still cameras and multi-spectral sensors, the advanced UAVs procured by the TNAU has been designed by the MIT, Chennai, to suit the designated requirement for precise assessment of the extent of damages, Dr. Palanivelan told The Hindu on Friday.

Vast expanse of banana plantations which suffered extensive damages in the fertile Lalgudi block were covered by the team with the area assessed exceeding 1,500 hectares. Day-two of the mission was undertaken on Thursday in Pattukottai block in Thanjavur district where the magnitude of destruction to coconut trees raised on several thousands of acres was assessed.

On Friday, the team carried out the mission at Thuravikadu village in Peravurani block in Thanjavur district.

“The missions will be conducted at Sethubavachathiram, Muthupettai, Tiruthuraipoondi and Vedaranyam areas also which also bore the brunt of the nature's fury”, said Dr. Palanivelan said.

Explaining the mission, Dr. Palanivelan said the “quadcopter and plane type” drones being used for the mission have a range of eight kilometres and 16 kilometres respectively which would enable the team to cover vast areas.

The remotely-controlled drones were flown for an hour for one sortie, he said and added that the missions were being conducted taking into account the weather conditions and wind speed. Digital images generated by deploying the hi-end drones would be very crystal clear with the image resolution being 5 centimetre, Dr. Palanivelan said.

This exercise would also help farmers in getting adequate compensation and insurance, he said and added that the assessment would also help in providing technological solutions to farmers in restoration and rejuvenation of affected plantations.

The technical mission is under way even as the State government is carrying out damage assessment in the cyclone-affected districts engaging officials of various departments.

The TNAU is planning to submit an interim report soon to the State government and a final report later, he added.

A senior official in Tiruchi, who was involved in the mission, said it would help in quickly calculating the extent of damages caused to plantations and trees.


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