India’s National Map Policy: HOPE vs HYPE

Aug 2005 | Comments Off on India’s National Map Policy: HOPE vs HYPE

photo3Muneendra Kumar, Ph.D.
Dr. and Senor “WGS 84”, Consulted to 100+ countries around the World.

The only thing new is introduction of DSMs and OSMs. It is surprising that Indian geodesists, cartographers, and other experts have “guided” the Government to retain the 19th century, mix it with 20th, and introduce the incompatibles. And, all this is to start the 21st century!

Thus, here are a few innovative observations for the record.

For DSMs –

1. The “Everest/WGS 84” is not a valid “datum”. Does it mean that Indian geodesists are to define WGS 84 all over again with the Everest ellipsoid?
2. In general, the 1: 25, 000 and 1: 50,000 are the two scales
for topographic maps. Thus, two incompatible projections and the associated grids will be an operational nightmare for the war fighters.

3. It is also not clear that contours will be in which height system. The old heights will be in conflict with GPS.

4. Having full information about the definition problem in WGS 84, Indian geodesists should have worked for a 21st century accurate and correctly defined Indian Geodetic Reference System (IGRF) 2005. It would also be easy to enhance the accuracy of IGRF, as and when India requires. 5. This series for the whole country should only be for selected areas.To maintain two overlapping series is practically unrealistic.

For OSMs –

1. The right and timely choice for the horizontal datum would be the new Indian Geodetic Reference System 2005.

2. When a new 21st century mapping system with zero distortion is available, India has a better choice over a 16th century projection with distortion.

For Charts –

1. The policy does not “cover” the nautical and aeronautical charts. No-projection, seamless, and distortion less charting is available.

2. For safe navigation, new technique to survey time-invariant sea floor depths provides a 21st century system than the most ambiguous LAT datum.

In the 21st century, India deserves the Best and that is achievable only with new research, ideas, techniques, and innovation.

“The civil maps seem to have the needed features”

photo-61Prof J G Krishnayya
Director, Systems Research Institute, Pune

The National Map Policy is a major positive step forward.

I note that Contours have been included in the Open Maps to be sold tothe public. This is a great relief. I cannot say anything about the Military maps as I do not know much about their needs. The Civil (“open”) maps seem to have the needed features. The fact that City maps at high resolution will also be “open” is all to the good. It is also good to leave the restriction-of-mapobjects issue to the SoI, so that once the maps come into the public domain, we do not have to worry about anything which is depicted thereon.

I also note that people who procure the maps from the SoI are at liberty to provide value-added additions and to resell. That is a major step forward. However, I note that a (typically Indian) bureaucratic interpolation was made in the Policy statement requiring registration of each purchase when one buys the map – and also when one resells the map. This does not really seem to provide any REAL safeguards (what are we now safeguarding in regard to the “open” maps?), and I hope it will eventually be dropped by the Ministry as they implement the system of map-distribution.

With the exception of the above requirement, I can only welcome the statement of Policy, and express my hope that the (unspoken, unfortunately) objective of the whole policy – namely a much more rapid rate of utilisation of the maps aimed at economic growth and more efficient land-use and planning and investment decisions – is achieved.


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