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Dho Dala!

Ravi Gupta, Editor Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has added a dotcom windfall to her old-fashioned fortune thanks to a timely investment in an Internet company that maps her realm. Her three percent stake in www.gstmapping.com, for which the monarch paid 1,00,000 cpounds late last year, will be worth around 1.3 million soon when the small company floats. This company, which is building a complete aerial picture for a giant Internet map, was expected to be valued around 40 million pounds. This project allows people to zoom in for a close look at around neighborhood-or even the royal castle.

The Portugese National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) programme-GEOCID ), gives access to the 1995 complete coverage of the country in orthophotos-“Portugal from the Sky”. This site is receiving around 20,000 hits per day.

Recently, the art and culture division of the Israel government held an exhibition of the Aerial photographs of Israel in India. They believed that photographs will help display the ‘texture’ of Israel and would allow the ancient heritage of the country to be known to people.

While all this action is happening all over the world, the Indian aerial photography sector scenario remains gloomy. The Chinese aggression in 1962, came as a wake up call for India, to invest heavily in the defence. But with it also came the map restriction policy, by which all aerial photographs were declared to be ‘secret unless advised to be graded top secret’ by the government.

Today, only few government organisations like Survey of India, National Remote Sensing Agency, National Geophysical Research Institute are the serious player in the market for carrying out aerial surveys. There being virtually no effort by the government to encourage this technology, this sector is devoid of serious private players. Some companies like Kampsax, Teleatlas, Genesys, RMSI, etc. have stared providing data processing services in this field for overseas clients. While the whole Europe, Middle East, Latin Americas and the South-East Asian aerial photographs are being dgitised in India, the India aerial data is not even available to the Indian user for processing or use.

The myopic aerial photography policy has cost the country dearly. While the government keeps on dreaming of developing highway and expressways from Kashmir to Kanyakumari by 2003, the lack of infostructure of large-scale maps to build this infrastructure, will ensure that this dream will stay a dream of all Indians for a long time to develop the urban plans for the new millennium using around 100 year old maps of their towns. The situation is so grim that, even the university teachers have been compelled to teach using foreign aerial photographs. What to talk about Indian contribution in development of this science?

Recently, a government tender for aerial photography spelt it is ‘Ariel’, the popular washing powder in India. And in similar vain, one also remembers the Hindi phrase ‘Dho Dala’, which means ‘washed away’! Enough to sum up the situation in this sector in India.


Ravi Gupta
Email: [email protected]