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Aquatic Procedia 4 (2015) 1299 1306



An Assessment of Resource Potentials For Sustainable

Development of Micro-Watershed In Tirunelveli District Using
Geoinformatics A Case Of Nambiyar Micro-Watershed In
Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India.
Narmada. K*a, Gobinath. Ka,G.Bhaskarana

Department Of Geography, University Of Madras,Chennai - 600005, India

Micro-watershed level planning requires a host of interrelated information to be generated and studied in relation to each other.
An attempt has been made to assess the resource potential of Nambiar Watershed by the integration of remote sensing and GIS
techniques to identify and evaluate the land quality and water resources. Different thematic maps have been prepared with the aid
of visual interpretation keys, using IRS P6, LISS IV data and SOI topographical maps and relevant secondary data. Land and
water resources are assessed individually integrating information derived from the remote sensing satellite data. By combining
both land resources with water resources using the GIS techniques, a composite map on the Resource Potential Zones (RPZ)
were created.The integrated resource analysis has proved to be efficient in categorizing the watershed as excellent to poor based
on the weightage given and the suitability of the land parcels for a particular land use was assessed. The present study helps in
the strategic management of water, agriculture, forest and other natural resources for the sustainable development of the Nambiar
watershed that runs across Nanguneri Taluk in Tirunelveli district in TamilNadu state in India.
2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.
of organizing
of organizing
Keywords:Watershed; Remote sensing; GIS; Resource Potential.

* Corresponding author. Tel.:+91-044-25399663; fax: +91-044-25391594.

E-mail address:narmadakm@yahoo.com, grbhaskaran@unom.ac.in

2214-241X 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Peer-review under responsibility of organizing committee of ICWRCOE 2015


K. Narmada et al. / Aquatic Procedia 4 (2015) 1299 1306

1. Introduction
The pressures on the land have immensely increased over years due to increase in population and by mans greed
for livelihood. Hence it is very much important to understand the consequences of anthropogenic activities and to
come out with appropriate strategies to counteract these detrimental effects to keep a balance of the environment at
micro watershed level. Micro-watershed level planning requires a host of inter-related information to be generated
and studied in relation to each other. With the increasing population, industries and commercial activities, the land
utilization pattern has changed over a period of time and the pressure on the water resources is increasing and per
capita availability of water resources is reducing day by day, it has become an important and dependable source of
water supplies in all climatic regions including both urban and rural areas of developed and developing countries. Of
the 37Mkm3of freshwater estimated to be present on the earth, about 22% exists as groundwater, which constitutes
about 97% of all liquid freshwater potentially available for human use. (Foster, 1998). In practice, it is essential to
understand the cumulative effects and their influence on land utilization. (Doughlas, 1994). In India, more than 90%
of the rural and nearly 30% of the urban population depend on groundwater for meeting their drinking and domestic
requirements.(BasavrajHutti and Nijagunappa, 2011) (Reddy et al., 1996) The quality of surface water is
deteriorating because of increasing pollutant loads from point and non-point sources. Geo informatics technology,
with its advantage of spatial, spectral and temporal availability of data coverage large and inaccessible areas within a
short time, has emerged as a very useful tool for the assessment, monitoring and management of resources.(Jha et
al., 2007) The hydro-geologic interpretation of satellite data has been shown to be a valuable survey tool in areas of
the world where little geologic and cartographic information exists or is not accurate, as well as inaccessible regions
of the world (Engman and Gurney, 1991) as remote sensors cannot detect groundwater directly, the presence of
groundwater is inferred from different surface features derived from satellite imagery such as geology, landforms,
soils, land use / land cover, surface water bodies, etc., which act as indicators of groundwater existence(Todd, 1980;
Jha and Peiffer, 2006)(Reddy, 1996). Geoinformatics use in the natural resource management has proved to be an
indispensable management and decision making tool which can ensure optimum use of the resources and help in
devising systems for judicious resource use and management practices. Therefore Geoinformatics applications has
been used in the present study to analyze the land degradations problems and to give alternative optimum land use at
micro level.(Bhaskaran, 2001) Various layers like land use and Land cover, Geomorphology, Slope, relief have
been generated and integrated to generate an action plan for optimum land utilization.
2. Study area
The Nambiyar River is located in the Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu. Tirunelveli district is located in the
southern part of Tamil Nadu and surrounded by Virudhunagar District on the North, Western Ghats on the West,
Kanyakumari District in the South and Tuticorin District in the East. This District is having three Revenue Divisions
comprising of 11 Taluks, 19 Development Blocks, 628 Revenue Villages and 425 Village Panchayats. The district is
a part of the composite east flowing river basin, between Vaippar and Nambiyar as per the Irrigation Atlas of
India.(District Groundwater Brochure, 2009) Tambarabarani, Vaipar and Nambiar are the important Sub-basins. The
NambiyarRiver is the water source to the Nanguneri taluk. It takes its origin in the western slopes of the Western
Ghats - 8 km. west of Thirukurungudi village at an altitude of 1500 m. above MSL. It runs eastwards and turns south
east and confluences in the Gulf of Mannarat Tiruvambalapuram village. Its course of 45km is restricted entirely to
Nanguneri taluk. The river has two tributaries, the Parattaiyar and the Thamaraiyar. The first tributary is a stream
from Mahendragiri hills and the second tributary originates from the combination of two hill streams, Mombaiyar
and Kodumudiyar. These tributaries join Nambiyar at the foot of the Mahendragiri hills. The river has nine anaicuts,
anaicut,Kovankulamanaicut,Thittikulamanaicut, and Pulimangulamanaicut.The total area of the watershed taken for
the study is around 80480 hec.

K. Narmada et al. / Aquatic Procedia 4 (2015) 1299 1306

Fig 1: Study area, Nambiyar Watershed


Fig 2: Nambiyar Watershed

2.1 Geomorphylogy and soil types

2.1.1 Geomorphology
Tirunelveli district is bordered by Western Ghats (Ridge and valley complex) in the West. A major part of the
district constitutes a plain terrain with a gentle slope toward East and Southeast, except for the hilly terrain in the
west. The general elevation of the area varies from less than 10 to 1408 m above mean sea level (Tulukkaparai hill
range). The prominent geomorphic units identified in the district through interpretation of Satellite imagery are
Structural Hill, Bazada Zone, Valley Fill, Flood Plain, Pediment, Shallow buried pediment, Deep buried pediment
and Coastal Plain.
2.1.2 Soils
Soils in the area have been classified into i) Deep Red soil ii). Red Sandy Soil. iii) Block Cotton Soil. iv)Saline
Coastal Alluvium, and v) River Alluvium. Major partsof the area are covered by Deep Red soil and are found in
Sivakasi, Tenkasi, Senkottai and Sankarankoil blocks and it is suitable for cultivating coconut and palmyrah trees.
Red sandy soil also in reddish yellow in colour and are found in Nanguneri, Ambasamudram, and Radhapuram
blocks and it is suitable for cultivating groundnut, millets and pulses etc., The Block Cotton Soil is found in
Tirunelveli, Palayankottai and Sankarankoil blocks, and it is suitable for cultivating Paddy, Ragi, and Cholam etc.,
The Saline Coastal Alluvium are dark grey to deep brown in colour and spread over the Nanguneri and Radhapuram
blocks. The River alluvial soils occur along the river courses of Tamrabarani and ChittarRiver covering in the blocks
Tirunelveli and Palayankottai and it is suitable for cultivating Groundnut, Chillies and Cumbu.
2.2 Drainage
Thamarabarani, Nambiyar, Chittar and Karamaniar are the important rivers draining the district. Tamarabarani
originating from Papanasam flows thorough the district. The Nambiyar river originates in the eastern slopes of the
Western ghats near Nellikalmottai about 9.6 km west of Tirukkurugundi village at an altitude of about 1060 m amsl
At the foot of the hills, the river is divided into two arms. The main arm is joined by Tamarabarani at the foothills.
Chittar originates near Courtallam and flows through Tenkasi and confluences with Tamarabarani. The hilly terrains
have resulted in number of falls in the district. There are three major falls in Manimuttar Reservoir catchments area


K. Narmada et al. / Aquatic Procedia 4 (2015) 1299 1306

and there are few falls in the TamarabaraniRiver also. A series of falls in ChittarRiver in Courtallam comprising
Five Falls, Honey Falls, Main falls and Old Courtallam Falls are some of the important falls in the area. The
drainage pattern in general is dendritic. In addition, there are eight dams at the places as given below for irrigation
and power generation purposes.
2.3 Rainfall and Climate
The district receives the rain under the influence of both southwest and northeast monsoons. The northeast monsoon
chiefly contributes to the rainfall in the district. Rainfall data from IMD stations over the period 1901-2000 were
utilized and a perusal of the data shows that the normal annual rainfall over the district is 879 mm. It is maximum
around Senkottai, Sankarankoil and all along the coast and it decreases towards inland. The areas around
Ambasamudram, Tirunelveli and Kadayanallur receive minimum rainfall. The district enjoys a Sub tropical climate.
The period from May to June is generally hot and dry. The weather is pleasant during the period from December to
January. The relative humidity is on an average between 79 and 84%. The mean minimum temperature is 22.9C
and mean maximum daily temperature is 33.5C respectively.
3. Objectives of the study
The main objectives of the study are as follows:
x Creation of Resources information system for sustainable development at micro- watershed level.
x To evaluate the land quality and water resource characteristics of the study area for assessing the resource
potentials using GIS.
x To identify the prioritized area for land use management to develop a local-specific micro-watershed resource
potential zone map.
4. Data and sources of data
x Satellite Imagery IRS P6, LISS IV data
x Survey Of India Toposheets
x Micro-watershed map
5. Methodology
The methodology adopted for present study are:
x Generation of Satellite Data on 1: 10,000 scale,
x Visual Interpretation of Satellite data and preparation of various thematic maps.
x Generation of various thematic maps like drainage, geology, soil, landuse and land cover, slope, elevation,
lineament, contour and rainfall variability.
x Weighted Overlay Analysis.
x Data integration.
To understand the potentiality of land resources in the study area, GIS overlay analysis is carried out. Various
thematic layers such as geology, geomorphology, soil, and slope are considered for the analysis. These layers are the
indicators of the physical terrain or land. This relationship forms the basis for zonation of land potential. To assess
the water potential various parameters like the landforms, slope and hydrological soil group, groundwater details,
drainage density, rainfall variation were taken into consideration. Resource Potential of the study area includes both
land and water resources. It is essential to understand the cumulative effects on the land utilization.
Thematic maps
1.0 Land use map

K. Narmada et al. / Aquatic Procedia 4 (2015) 1299 1306


Landuse / Land Cover map for the area has been prepared using IRS P6, LISS IV on 1:10,000 scale. The
different landuse categories identified in the present study area are agricultural land with few wastelands, water
bodies and forest area.
2.0Slope map
Slope map was prepared using ArcGIS 3D Analyst from 5 m interval contours derived by photogrammetric
techniques. The study area falls into four categories. 1 100 as Very Gentle Slope 11 200 as Gentle Slope 21 300 as Moderate Slope 31 400m as Steep Slope
3.0Digital Elevation Model
Digital Elevation Model (DEM) is developed using the topographic attributes like spot heights and contour lines.
The data is stored as vector and ASCII file as part of a GIS format. Based on the DEM, the elevation of the study
area ranges from 25 to 1625meters above the sea level.
4.0Soil Map
The soil map also has been extracted from National Bureau of Soil Survey & Land Use Planning and the present
study area falls into four types such 1) Entisols 2) Inceptisols and 3)Alfisols. The major soil type is found to be
Entisols followed by Inceptisols.
5.0 Micro-Watershed Map
Micro-Watershed Map was delineated from Survey of India Toposheets on 1:50,000 scale using Arc/Info GIS.
6.0 Drainage System / Network Map
The drainage network delineated from the toposheets is an important property of the landscape that contribute to
the understanding of slope, material flow and soil type. All the rivers, tributaries and small stream channels shown
on the toposheets are extracted to prepare the drainage map, which is then updated using Satellite data. Care is taken
that the boundaries of rivers/ streams appearing on land use /land cover map or base map are perfectly matched with
those on the toposheet.

Fig 3. a) Physical parameters of Nambiyar Watershed, Tirunelveli


K. Narmada et al. / Aquatic Procedia 4 (2015) 1299 1306

Fig 3. b) Other Elements of Nambiyar Watershed, Tirunelveli

Fig 3. c) Rainfall variation in Nambiyar Watershed, Tirunelveli

7.0 Data Integration

Resource potential is assessed by integrating the water and land potential of the watershed. Hydro geomorphology
and rainfall were taken as indirect indicators of water potential without the secondary data support. These were
integrated with elevation, slope, land use/ land cover, watershed, drainage and soil maps which are the indicators of
land potential using weighted overlay analysis.

6. Result and discussion

The resource potential of the study area is derived from the GIS overlay analysis of the thematic maps. The resultant
map is categorized into RPZ-1 (very High), RPZ-2(High), RPZ-3(Moderate), RPZ-4(Low) and RPZ-5(very low).
Among the RPZ-1 indicates zones having excellent land potential and water potential. The RPZ-2 as very good land
potential and very good water potential and so on. Zones showing excellent resource potential (RPZ-1) are observed
in the flood plains scattered randomly as small pockets all around the watershed which covers an area of
2323.25hec. High Resource Potential Zones cover an area of about 8965.72 hec. Most of the area in the watershed
shows moderate resource potential i.e. about 35306.78 hec. The regions with low resource potential covers an area
of about 9765.6hec. The region with low resource potential shows an area of about 24119.63sq.kms that takes up
major share of the watershed. (Table 1) . The spatial pattern of the resource potential map shows that the excellent
potential tract is mostly associated with the double crops. The RPZ-2(High) is mostly associated with the single crop
and plantation. It is predominantly associated with the double crop and plantation categories in the southern and
north-eastern parts and double crop area in the north-western (flood plain areas) parts.


K. Narmada et al. / Aquatic Procedia 4 (2015) 1299 1306

Fig 4: Resource Potential of Nambiyar Watershed

The RPZ-3(moderate) is associated with the single crop and plantation in the central part. It is also seen with the
single crop area indicating certain limitations to the agricultural practices, mostly pertaining to utilization of water
potential available and depletion of resources has started in the area. Similarly, fallow land is also seen in this area
indicating lesser land and water potentials. RPZ-4 and 5 is mostly seen in the eastern and central part of the
watershed.Fallow lands are not utilised properly as there are scientific evidences of resource potential in fallow
Table 1: Resource Potential Zones ofNambiyar Watershed

Raster Values

Resource Potential Zones

Zonal Classification

Area(in hec)

56.8 79.7

Very High

RPZ - 1


45.8 56.8


RPZ - 2


36.7 45.8


RPZ - 3


30.8 36.7


RPZ - 4


22 30.8

Very Low

RPZ - 5




Area Of The Resource Potential Zones (in

High, 2323.24
High, 8965.72

Moderate, 353

low, 24119.63
Low, 9765.60

Fig 5: Pie Chartshowing area coverage of the Resource Potential Zones Of Nambiyar Watershed

The resource potential zones were categorised based on the weightage given to the major parameters and the
cumulative effect of the parameters. The areas with Quartzite, Charnockite or Calc granulite as geological structures,
slope above 20 and if the geomorphology is a structural hill or residual hill and that receives moderate to high
rainfall with high drainage density is said to have high resource potential. Likewise the resource potential areas have
been categorised based on joint effect of various parameters.


K. Narmada et al. / Aquatic Procedia 4 (2015) 1299 1306

Table 2: Resource Potential Zones OfNambiyar Watershed

Resource Potential








Below 1

Flood Plain


Very Low


Buried Pediment Deep

Sillimanite gneiss


1 -5

Bazada, Buried Pediment Deep

and Buried Pediment Medium

Very Good to

Very Low to

Sillimanite gneiss

Pink Granite
gneiss, Charnockite,
Calc granulite

5 10

Bazada, Buried Pediment

Medium and Shallow,
Pediment and Sand Dunes

Good to Poor




10 20

Structural Hill, Residual Hill,



High to


Quartzite, Charnockite,
Calc granulite

Above 20

Structural Hill, Residual Hill

and Inselburg

Moderate to High

High to Very

7. Conclusion
Remote sensing data with their synoptic view and repetitive coverage provide more meaningful information on
terrain parameters such as geology, landforms, land use and soil condition and other physical parameters of the
study area. Temporal analysis of remote sensing satellite data helps to derive information on changes in spatial
pattern of various resource potential categories and infer problems and constraints responsible for such change.
Geographic Information System (GIS) is helpful in identifying various Resource Potential Zones in the study area. It
may be concluded that GIS analysis using satellite date enables the assessment of resources available in the study
area. It has been found that Nambiyar Watershed is extremely under threat due to improper land use practices and
anthropogenic activities. Based on the analysis, there is a need to adopt new tools, techniques and technology for
proper use and conservation practices for resource use. Geoinformatics has evolved as a proven tool for resource
planning. Judicious use and regeneration of resources can be ensured at almost real time basis. Thus Geoinformatics has been found to be an effective and economical tool for resource planning.
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