Home Articles GSI plans to generate GIS compatible digital products

GSI plans to generate GIS compatible digital products

P C Mandal
Mr P C Mandal
Director General GSI

Mr P C Mandal, Director General GSI, has been associated with this organisation since 1972.
He has Masters in Chemistry and has also served as a lecturer before joining GSI. He has served GSI from 1972-99 in north-east and in western region.
Mr Mandal is the Chairman of MTD-29 Committee of Bureau of Indian Standards. In the following Interview, Mr Mandal tells us about the past achievements, present scenario and future plans of GSI

  • GSI is one of the oldest organisations of the country. What are its major achievements?

    Geological Survey of India is a 150 years old premier organisation of earth science studies in the country. It has built up a national database of geological information on 1:50,000 scale covering major part of the country, which is essential for all developmental planning. GSI has also explored huge mineral wealth of the country with the discovery of almost all the mineral deposits. Several public sector undertakings like HZL, HCL, NALCO, BALCO, Coal India Ltd. Neyveli Lignite Corporation and many others have been established to exploit mineral deposits discovered by GSI. Organisations like ONGC, AMD, CGWB, MECL and IBM nucleated from GSI.

  • What has been the mandate of the GSI and how it intends to achieve it or has achieved certain parts of it?

    GSI functions as per its National Charter, which includes creation of the national repository of all earth science related data on mineral exploration, geotechnical and geoenvironmental studies.

  • What are the main products of GSI?

    The results of field surveys (ground, aerial and marine) and laboratory studies carried out over a long period and documented in the form of published and unpublished reports and maps are the main products of GSI. A national geoscientific information database is another important product of GSI. Development of strong cadres of highly skilled professionals in all the sub-disciplines of earth sciences is yet another major product of the Department.

  • How is GSI keeping itself abreast with of rapidly changing user needs?

    Starting with coal exploration, GSI has diversified its activities, over the period depending upon national requirements. The emphasis was shifted from dominantly mineral exploration to environmental concerns including natural hazards and geotechnical studies. With the introduction of free market society, in line with current global scenarios, and the emphasis on sustainable development, the role of Governmental agencies in the national developmental efforts, stands modified. GSI is gearing itself up to these new challenges and plans to choose its role as provider of baseline data, customised data products and consultancy services.

  • Today is the time for going digital. Do you have any plans to digitise the maps? If yes, what time frame you have in mind?

    Yes, GSI started using digital cartography for processing the maps to be printed. In 1994 and since them digital products of many maps have been generated. Recently GSI has embarked on an action plan to convert all its unpublished reports and accompanying plates, as well as 1:50,000 scale geological maps of the country into digital format and the job is to be completed by December 2004. GSI also plans to generate GIS compatible digital products of some of the thematic maps.

  • What initiatives GSI has taken to incorporate new technologies such as GIS in its system?

    GIS activity in GSI dates back to late 1980s, when a collaborative project between GSI and ISRO – ‘Project Vasundhara’ was conceived for prognostication of mineral potential of Southern Indian Craton. The momentum picked up in the mid-nineties with some mega-projects like ‘Building up of regional geochemical inventory of selected areas of the Karnataka Craton Greenstone Belts’. Compilation of integrated geological, geophysical and geochemical maps with statistical modelling aided by GIS techniques for targeting minerals in the Singhbhum, Chhotanagpur Minerals Belts and southern part of Khetri Copper Belt was also carried out during the same period. GEOISMM, a multi-organisational collaborative project was launched with GSI, DOS, AMD, MECL, CGWB and DGM (for MP and Maharashtra) to create spatial database for generation of decision making maps, dissemination of geoinformation and identification of gap areas. Geoinformatics projects were introduced in late 90’s: a large way for creation of thematic database linked with GIS coverages of ArcInfo, for storage of spatial data and dissemination through customised packages in Oracle – ArcInfo combination as per the need of the end user. So far, 42 geoinformatics projects have been taken up involving 56 degree-sheets all over India. To expedite storage of data in digital format, digitisation of available layers in published quadrangle sheets have also been taken up for 62 distributed sheets. It can thus be safely summed up that, generation and storage of spatial database concerning geological information for 30% of India is in progress, and the pace of activity is expected to accelerate.

  • How accessible are the GIS prepared maps to its users, especially in the private sector?

    Hard copies of GSI’s unpublished reports and accompanying maps and plates are available for open sale as also the small scale compilation of geological maps. Compilation of geological maps on 1:50,000 scale is a specialised job and is currently in progress. Hard copies will be made available as soon as they are ready. Regarding the digital products, the Department is bounded by Ministry of Defence guidelines.

  • Recently Department of Science and Technology, Government of India has taken initiative regarding of development of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). What role can GSI play in it?

    The concept of NSDI has evolved during inter-ministerial meeting on 2.8.2000 held to discuss the map restriction policy-regarding digital data. GSI is a member of the National Task Force and is actively involved in all its deliberations.

    As a custodian of vast amount of earth science data, GSI has a major role to play in NSDI in providing customised information for developmental planning. Accordingly it is proposed to house a GSI node at Kolkata to be linked with NSDI master server.

  • Geology as a subject is not attracting young minds due to poor job opportunities. What do you feel should be done to generate interest in the subject?

    World wide-boom in I.T. Industry, has adversely affected not only the natural sciences like Geology but also the physical sciences globally. Together with Government’s liberalisation policy there are two major causes for the slump in job opportunities for geology students. In the changed scenario the role of GSI gets modified with emphasis changing from dominantly mineral exploration to secondary mineral exploration, environmental impact assessment studies and I.T. services. Accordingly teaching institutions should also reorient their course curriculum to meet the changed requirements. Though liberalisation policy has reduced job opportunities in the Government sector but, it has opened vast vistas in the private sector. I am confident that the present slump is a temporary phase and the situation will improve in near future.

  • Do you conduct training programmes on GIS? If yes, what are their objectives and whom do they target?

    GSI conducts training programmes in GIS through its Training Institute located at Hyderabad. The training is being imparted under Project INDIGEO, a collaborative project between GSI and International Institute for Aerial Surveys and Earth Resources (ITC), the Netherlands. It is a five-week intensive training programme for geologists and geophysicists of the Department. 20% of seats in each GIS course conducted (2 to 3 nos per year) under project INDIGEO are offered to scientists of other earth science related organisations in the country.

    Recently the GSI Training Institute has conducted a exclusive GIS training programme for 16 scientists of National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad.

  • Where would you like to see GSI in the year 2020?

    It is indeed matter coincidence that GSI prepared its vision document for 2020 in March 2001 The Department aims for orient its role as a premier geoscience organisation in the country to providing information on earth science related natural resources, environment and earth system studies and information science.