NMOs have to change its strategy like it can work as an authority rather than its traditional way of doing business

Nov 2016 | No Comment

Krishna Raj BC

Director General, Survey Department, Nepal

What are the major activities of Survey Department, Nepal?

Survey Department, under the Ministry of Land Reform and Management, is the National Mapping Organization (NMO) of Nepal. The Department is responsible for regulating, monitoring and coordinating surveying, mapping and geospatial activities in the country. Major activities of the Department can be listed as follows:

• Establishment and maintenance of national control network (horizontal and vertical) through geodetic surveying

• Conducting cadastral surveying for the first registration and to prepare the national cadaster and support land administration and management activities in the country.

• Carrying out topographic surveying for national topographic map series and topographic database.

• Preparing various kinds of other geospatial information including thematic and administrative maps.

• Working as the nodal agency of national geospatial information infrastructure.

• Conducting international boundary surveys.

• Conducting research activities, especially in the sector of geospatial information.

What are the main services offered by the Department?

Based on the above mentioned activities, the Department provides following services:

• Providing horizontal and vertical control networks of different level

• Providing various kinds of geospatial information products including topographic maps (hardcopy as well as digital form), thematic maps, administrative maps, among others.

• Providing technical services regarding land administration and management, and dispute resolution in property boundary by delineating property boundaries. Similarly, also provides cadastral maps and data as requested by the user.

• Providing expert services, in surveying and mapping, as requested by the government or non-government sector.

Share the role played by the Survey Department during and after the earthquake last year?

Survey Department played an important role to response the devastative earthquake last year. Immediately after the disaster, the Department issued all the geo-spatial data of the disaster affected area free of charge through online. The department produced damage assessment maps based on the satellite images provided by some companies, which was very useful for rescuing as well as assessing the loss. The Department also provided necessary spatial information to the task force of the Government formed for the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA).

At the same time, the Department mobilized its staff, as instructed by the Government, to the disaster affected areas to assess the damage caused by the disaster. As a scientific contribution, the Department carried out geodetic study surveys soon after the devastating earthquake, using GNSS technology, in the affected areas and released the outcome of the study. The study found the shift of Kathmandu valley approximately 1.8 meters southwest wards.

How do you plan to keep pace with the fast changing technology in the domain?

Keeping pace with the fast changing technology in the domain has become a challenge for the Department. However, the Department is making its best possible efforts to meet this challenge. The department introduces the newly developed technologies as pilot basis such that it helps developing new skill as well as learning what we need further. Depending upon the availability of the resources and capacity, we apply the new technology. At the same time, the department is also making best possible efforts in its capacity development.

What are the effort in the direction of capacity building?

As I mentioned earlier, professional capacity is one of the major hindrances to keep pace with the fast changing technology. Most of the professionals involved in this domain, within and outside the department, have gained professional skill through training and only quite a few professionals are university graduates in the field of geomatics. In recent years, the skill acquired through training seems insufficient to cope with the new technology. Therefore, the Government of Nepal is collaborating with the universities to produce university graduates in the field of geomatics. At the same time, the Department is exploring opportunities for its staff to go abroad for higher studies. At least two officers are funded by the department for the master’s degree course abroad. The department is also making its effort to enhance the technical skill of its staff through trainings, motivating for technology transfer, exchange of knowledge, collaboration with professional community beyond the government sector.

What are the main challenges?

Following are the main challenges before the department:

• Rehabilitation novation of the geodetic control network that has been affected by the 2015 Nepal earthquake

• Providing updated geospatial information and maps for reconstruction and resettlement affected by the earthquake.

• Updating existing topographic map series that was prepared in late 1990s

• Improving the spatial quality of cadastral data

• Bringing all the players and produces of geospatial data within the network of national spatial data infrastructure.


• Technology transfer with existing human resources

• Compete with the non-governmental enterprises in the sector

• Meet the need of the society with existing allocation of resources

What are the future plans?

After the devastative earthquake of last year, we have the responsibility of providing geospatial products of changed context. The shift in the geodetic datum has forced us to

• Rehabilitation of Geodetic Control Network and Establishing CORS throughout the country

• Initiating multipurpose mapping of the earthquake affected 31 districts in the basis of LiDAR survey , aerial photography and field verification as required

• Updating existing topographic map series and producing new topographic map series in larger scale.

• Renovating spatial quality of cadastral data by exploiting the opportunities offered by the modern technology.

• Developing fully functional national geospatial information infrastructure.

How do you see the technology like UAV/UAS for surveying and mapping?

This is an innovation, I would say, in the surveying and mapping domain. I have gone through literatures and so many case studies regarding its application. I see its potential, especially to meet the need of immediate geospatial information in disaster response. In the near future we wish to use it to see its suitability in the sector of our responsibility.

NMOs are increasingly becoming irrelevant with the advent of players like Google Earth. Comments.

l don’t believe in this statement. There is no doubt such initiatives have brought challenges before National Mapping Organisations (NMOs), but I take this as an opportunity for NMOs to enhance its competitiveness. In the modern society, supply driven products only are not the only ones to work. There are various other activities of national interest and such global initiatives may not sufficiently meet such national needs. At the same time, assuring quality of the geospatial information for its authentic, reliable and authorative use is the most important thing, NMOs still need for it. Yes, I can say that in the current scenario, NMOs have to change its business strategy like it can work as an authority rather than its traditional way of doing business.

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