India’s National Map Policy: HOPE vs HYPE

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

Digital Mock-up of International Boundaries should be made available

photo-63S. D. BAVEJA

I congratulate the Department of Science & Technology (DST) for their historic achievement and evolving a New National Mapping Policy and for making diverse Spatial Data Bases available for use in an Integrated manner but the mandate still rests with Survey of India, one of the oldest scientifi c departments of Government of India with a lot of old legacies which are very hard to die, as I have first hand experience while working as co-ordinator Survey of India (SOI) Computerization program when digital mapping /digital technology was adopted, and implementation shall require a real push from DST.

The need of the hour is therefore immediate action for implementation to fulfil the objectives of New Mapping Policy on dissemination of maps & spatial data on one side & formulation of mechanisms of partnerships, be it for promotion of geo-spatial knowledge or value addition of available products, on the other.

While issue of two map series is a welcome move, unless OSMs (Open Series Maps) are made available quickly the very purpose shall get defeated. Since the Onus of bringing OSM also lies exclusively with SOI which involves redesigning the numbering system, specifying the deletion of Civil & Military Vulnerable areas and points etc., the DST may kindly ensure their quick availability for the whole upto international boundary.

The user community is eagerly awaiting issue of detailed guidelines regarding all aspects of OSMs, procedure for accessing them and value adding them. I feel digital Mock-up of International boundaries on various scales should be made available to mapping agencies who want to print a map with containing International boundaries, to avoid verifi cation from SOI as these boundaries are fixed, and a note to this affect shall suffice.

I presume that contents of City maps to be decided by SOI in consultation with Ministry of Defense (MOD) shall be one time actively and approved contents shall be circulated and made available as free for use and updating. Maintenance and updating NTDB is going to be Herculian Task and here public/private partnership with companies having ISO Certification in ground Survey & Digital Mapping should be invited and after registration they could be assigned the task for better service to the public. National Digital Elevation Model could however be treated differently from Digital line graphics for obvious reasons of security.

The procedure for registration of user agencies, their selection, for specific tasks and agreement contents require to be laid down for value
addition on SOI maps or for preparing value added maps on their own.

The guidelines for sharing of information through map Transaction registry are also required to be laid down as it may involve issue of IPR for data generated or value added by various agencies other than Survey of India.

It shall not be out of place to mention that a compiled pamphlet of MOD detail guidelines is made available to general public on various aspects of map access and use as they still continue to hold good.

I feel the following should also be included in ANNEXURE – IA
• Lakes, falls etc. as part of water features.
• Places of tourist interest
• Historical Places
• Heritage Sites
• Petrol Pumps
• Picnic Spots

The purpose of above observations is not to undermine the above historic achievement but to request for fast implementation and to give impetus to Government of India’s desire for fast Infrastructure development. In case it is found appropriate a working group with public-private participation could be constituted for Implementation of New Mapping Policy in a pre-determined time frame to ensure execution of the new policy.

The present map policy is a pale shadow of the original proposal


The present policy as originally drafted by Department of Science and Technology/ Survey of India and approved by committee of secretaries has been far more comprehensive and detailed and very different from the final form as it appeared. It stands today as a pale shadow of the original proposal and will not change things very much. However, as the policy is silent on many issues eg the map data held by private sector and its publication and dissemination, this silence can be hopefully constructively interpreted and used for value addition. Similarly other places where policy does not explicitly prohibit anything, it can be assumed that doing anything does not require any permission. In any case hopefully in view of the developments like Google Earth, the very concept of map policy will lose any value what so ever.

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