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" India is growing very fast and is poised to become one of the three biggest economies in the world."
"Gujarat is a unique State in terms of its location and diversity"
"We must make our state not only the premier state in India, but a Global model"
"It is my pleasure to offer a location for India's first Geospatial Technology Park in the Gujarat State"

Place : Hyderabad Speech Date :18-01-2011

Winners of the Geospatial Awards, Policymakers, Administrators, Scientists and Leaders of the Geospatial, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I consider it a privilege to be here today among this galaxy of luminaries of the geospatial world. It is also quite exciting for me to give away the Geospatial Awards for excellence in this field. My State and myself feel honoured that the international jury has declared the State of Gujarat as the Premier Geospatial State of India.

Friends ! India is growing very fast and is poised to become one of the three biggest economies in the world. We are blessed with natural resources, a vibrant democracy and a young and energetic population. At the same time, we are a country ever hungry for faster development and we are also prone to disasters. Moreover, we live in a time when global warming and climate change threaten our future. These factors impose strong conditions for utilisation of our resources for development. Science and Technology, thus, has to play a very important role in balancing the conflicting demands of development, disaster management and ecological conservation.

We, in Gujarat, realised this fundamental requirement quite early. We, therefore, made efforts to harness the modern technological developments to our benefit. Gujarat is a unique State in terms of its location and diversity. It has one-third of India's coastline, the biggest wetland - the Rann of Kachch in the west, the Thar Desert to the north, the Aravalli Hills to the east and the Western Ghats in the south. Our unique geography and climate present us the opportunities and also pose the challenges in development process. We realised that the technologies of Space Application could provide us the means to tackle these issues in a coordinated and scientific manner. I feel proud at this moment that Gujarat's famous scientist, Dr Vikram Sarabhai, had the vision and leadership to develop this technology in India. These tools give us the capacity and strength for harvesting our resources and using them efficiently. At the same time, they allow the stakeholders to participate in the development process as informed and empowered actors.

With this thought process, we set up a small centre called Remote Sensing and Communications Centre to harness the technologies of Remote Sensing and Space Communications. Remote sensing gave us the ability to look at our resources in a holistic manner. Soon we realised that a centre was inadequate to handle the tasks on hand. Therefore, we enlarged it to the present Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics.

It is better known as BISAG. We have given BISAG a mandate to support the Government departments and institutions for their requirements of satellite communications and geospatial applications. BISAG is also supposed to simultaneously address the issues of capacity building. We are keen that we have on hand a large body of well trained geospatial engineers and scientists.

Our end goal is very clear. We must make our state not only the premier state in India, but a Global model; not only in terms of gross development but also in terms of Technological innovations. Our key stakeholders are our people who live and work in Gujarat tilling its soil and working in its shops, offices and industries. We need to make their quality of life better than earlier; rather better than the best in the world. For this purpose, we had to reduce the wastages and enhance productivity. We looked at different aspects and realised that all planning, implementation and monitoring has a spatial component. These aspects could be addressed with modern geospatial technologies. We also realised that these technologies can be used more effectively in the context of modern development. Therefore, we adopted a holistic approach. We seamlessly integrated diverse data sets from different sources and used them to develop planning models and implementation plans. We have also ensured that our agencies and institutions ‘own' these systems .This has helped us to institutionalise such developments and innovations. Today, in Gujarat, we are quite used to these applications. Even outside planners and administrators are in search of Gujarat's Geo-spatial data whenever there is a problem to be addressed.

Friends! Gujarat's model of Governance is defined by people's partnership in the development process .We could also understand the power of modern communications to help us here. We are using satellite communications to interactively connect the people from the remotest corners of the state. We frequently communicate, discuss our plans and monitor their progress involving the people .Thanks to the technology of the space communications; we have rapidly converted our development into a participative process. As one of the earliest usages, we use the space communications to help us in formal and non-formal education. We use this technology as a ‘teacher in the sky'. This is basically to extend the benefit of top class teachers to the backward institutions and remote areas. We are extensively using the EDUSAT programme to train our students from primary schools to engineering and medical colleges. For us, this is a way of multiplying the benefits of a scarce resource - good teachers.

Friends! We are now at a stage that we can share our achievements with others in the National interest and in the interest of the Humanity. I am always fond of saying that Gujarat's growth is for India's growth. You may be aware that recently, we concluded the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit. In this Summit, we hosted, among others, thousands of delegates from more than hundred countries . We agreed to and concluded MoUs worth Rs. 20.83 lakh crores– which is around 450 billion US Dollars. These MOUs are for various projects and activities relating to infrastructure, big, large and medium industries as well as knowledge sector including capacity building. Looking back, however, I feel that we missed the luminaries of the geospatial world at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit. In order to rectify this, it is my pleasure to offer a location for India's first Geospatial Technology Park in the Gujarat State.

We are a state with exemplary infrastructure, good work culture and an excellent quality of life. Gujaratis are famous worldwide for their entrepreneurial skills. We are home to many global industries ranging from chemicals to heavy engineering, and of course, Automobile. We would be happy to add geospatial technology to this bouquet. I think such a Park would be the most appropriate addition considering the adoption of this technology in our day to day work .It also looks befitting in view of the recognition you have given us today.

I invite you to Gujarat on both personal and institutional basis. Come and be a part of our growth story.

Thank You!

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In last 10 years, around 3 million hectares of forest cover added in India, enhancing the combined forest cover to almost one-fourth of the country's total area: PM
India is on track to achieve its national commitment of Land degradation neutrality: PM
Restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land aimed by 2030 to achieve an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent
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It is our sacred duty to leave a healthy planet for our future generations: PM

Excellency, President of the General Assembly,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Namaste

I thank the President of the General Assembly for organising this High-Level Dialogue.

Land is the fundamental building block for supporting all lives and livelihoods. And, all of us understand that the web of life functions as an inter-connected system. Sadly, land degradation affects over two-thirds of the world today. If left unchecked, it will erode the very foundations of our societies, economies, food security, health, safety and quality of life. Therefore, we have to reduce the tremendous pressure on land and its resources. Clearly, a lot of work lies ahead of us. But we can do it. We can do it together.

Mr. President,

In India, we have always given importance to land and considered the sacred Earth as our mother. India has taken the lead to highlight land degradation issues at international forums. The Delhi Declaration of 2019 called for better access and stewardship over land, and emphasised gender-sensitive transformative projects. In India, over the last 10 years, around 3 million hectares of forest cover has been added. This has enhanced the combined forest cover to almost one-fourth of the country's total area.

We are on track to achieve our national commitment of Land degradation neutrality. We are also working towards restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. This would contribute to India's commitment to achieve an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

We believe that restoration of land can start a virtuous cycle of good soil health, increased land productivity, food security and improved livelihoods. In many parts of India, we have taken up some novel approaches. To give just one example, the Banni region in Rann of Kutch in Gujarat suffers from highly degraded land and receives very little rainfall. In that region, land restoration is done by developing grasslands, which helps in achieving land degradation neutrality.  It also supports pastoral activities and livelihood by promoting animal husbandry. In the same spirit, we need to devise effective strategies for land restoration while promoting indigenous techniques.

Mr. President,

Land degradation poses a special challenge to the developing world. In the spirit of South-South cooperation, India is assisting fellow developing countries to develop land restoration strategies. A Centre of Excellence is being set up in India to promote a scientific approach towards land degradation issues.

Mr. President,

It is mankind's collective responsibility to reverse the damage to land caused by human activity. It is our sacred duty to leave a healthy planet for our future generations. For their sake and ours, I extend my best wishes for productive deliberations at this High-Level Dialogue.

Thank you.

Thank you very much.