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Aug 2006 | Comments Off on NEWSBRIEFS – GIS

India cripples RTI act

The Union Cabinet on July 20 gave its approval for the introduction of a Bill amending the Right to Information Act, 2005, to exclude file notings in a few areas, in the monsoon session of Parliament. The proposed amendments would “remove ambiguities and make the provisions of the Act effective and progressive,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said. The decision follows objections from government organisations such as the Union Public Service Commission that detailed file notings at the Undersecretary and Joint Secretary level cannot be disseminated. “Such exemptions have been granted in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia,” Mr. Dasmunsi said.

Civil society organisations, which have been crucial in the enactment of the RTI Act, have reacted sharply to the decision. According to Aruna Roy of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghathan, “Section 8 [exemption clause] is an overarching section. If there is a problem with file notings related to the UPSC, why doesn’t the Government put it under that schedule? This is a deliberate attempt to cover up for acts of corruption. There is fear among bureaucrats that the widespread use of the RTI legislation will end the arbitrary use of power. I really think this move will weaken the Act and the UPA’s promises of a free and accountable government.” However, the PMO clarifies that the controversy over the curtailment of the right to access file notings via the Right to Information Act seems to be misplaced. In fact, the so-called ‘striking down’ of the right to access notings on government files by the Union Cabinet, was actually what would allow access to file notings. PM Manmohan Singh’s office has issued an exhaustive clarification to point out that the changes were not ‘‘retrogressive’’ and the criticism was ‘‘misplaced’’ and based on ‘‘an incomplete knowledge of facts.’’

Global GIS revenue to reach $3.6 billion this year

Worldwide GIS/Geospatial revenue is forecast to reach $3.6 billion in 2006, up from $2.82 billion in 2004. Core-business revenue includes software, hardware, services and data products. The breakdown for these areas for 2004 is as follows: Software comprised over one-half of total revenue, with revenues from GIS software vendors reaching $1.5 billion.

Data was the second largest component of core-business revenues, accounting for a quarter of total revenue, or $677 million. Services came in third, with core-business vendors being accounting for one fifth of total corebusiness revenues, or $536 million. Hardware accounted for just 4% of total core-business revenues, or $113 million.

Ministry of Earth Sciences in India

In a significant development in India, the Ministry of ocean Development has been recently named as the Ministry of Earth Sciences. The notification (Doc.CD-384/2006) dated 12th July, 2006 was issued formally by the Cabinet Secretariat on July 17, 2006. The Union Cabinet had earlier approved the renaming of the Ministry in May 2006. The Ministry of Earth Sciences will be in charge of matters relating to Ocean Sciences & Technology, Meteorology, Seismology, Climate & Environmental Science and related Earth Sciences.

Unlocking secrets of earthquake prediction

Researchers say they have come closer to unlocking the secrets of earthquake prediction by uncovering a link between tiny, almost imperceptible, tremors deep inside the Earth and devastating quakes capable of wiping out cities. Key to the find are socalled silent earthquakes that move so deeply and gradually that they produce no seismic waves. A threeyear joint project by the University of Tokyo and Stanford University has found a way of accurately mapping the epicenters of these minuscule prequakes, researcher Sho Nakamula of University of Tokyo said. The results, published earlier this month in the journal Nature, could lead to improved earthquake prediction.

2005 population estimates for South Africa now available

SAtoZ has released its first dataset for 2006 – an update of the 2001 Census population estimates for the country, generated at various spatial levels, including enumeration areas, municipalities and provinces. The data is also available in tabular format. All of the information is in a GIS format.

ESRI releases ‘A to Z GIS

‘A to Z GIS – An Illustrated Dictionary of Geographic Information Systems’ from ESRI Press serves as a handy guide to define the unique language of GIS technology. Packed with 1,800 definitions, A to Z GIS helps users understand key GIS terms such as geocoding, polylines, and georeferencing.

Nepali capital prepares digital map to help locate roads

Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley Town Development Committee (KVTDC) has prepared a CD-Rom of the valley’s map to help inform people about the Guided Land Development Program (GLDP) of the committee. The committee is also preparing to upload the map in its official website.

GIS developed for Thailand’s tourism industry

The Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) has developed an infrastructure for GIS, which contains information on tourism and related services in five provinces, for distribution to travel websites free of charge.


In India

There are plans to map all this information on GIS and have an income tax map of Pune city. Armed with data from the Annual Information Return, the Income Tax Department is going to tighten its surveillance on defaulters.

• The Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad is planning to use digital cameras for the classification of residential and commercial properties.

• GIS mapping has helped BSES teams in Delhi to unearth power theft of 4300 KW. The penalties imposed on the defaulters amount to around Rs. 17 crore (USD 3.6 million). BSES has started mapping all its licensed areas and customers.

• The BMP (Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) in partnership with eGovernments Foundation plans to integrate GIS with the property tax. http://

• The Survey of India, Tamil Nadu branch, is introducing digital guide maps of Chennai in the form of CDs. The digital maps score over the paper variety in including some of the data so far restricted to the public.

• The Department of Biotechnology under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology, India has developed a set of nine CDs. Called `Jeeva Sampada,’ the first-ever digitised inventory of India’s vast bio-resource provides data on 39,000 species and offers images, distribution maps and an interactive data retrieval system. It as also released an atlas of maps of the biodiversity of East Coast, Eastern Ghats and Central India.


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