In 2001, the Government of India announced the Remote Sensing Data Policy keeping in mind the complexities emerging due to the availability of high resolution satellite imageries from commercial satellites. Also, a landmark initiative was to develop the concept of National Spatial Data Infrastructure. However, there were controversies as well. One surrounding a digitisation project in Gujarat and the other on violation of copyright of Eicher City by one website.

Remote Sensing Data Policy Announced
As per the policy, Government permission is required for operating a remote sensing satellite from India and also for distribution of satellite images in India. The National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) has been identified as the national acquisition/ distribution agency for all satellite data within India and has been allowed to enter into agreements for any foreign satellite data distribution in India. Antrix Corporation (of DoS) is identified to license IRS capacities outside of India. The policy has safeguards for ensuring that images of sensitive areas are screened out, so that national security interests are protected. In particular, the Policy streamlines the distribution of high-resolution data to Government users; private users involved in developmental activities with Government and other private/academic/foreign users. The RSDP is a step forward towards making transparent the procedures of satellite data distribution, including those from high resolution imaging systems, without being restrictive. This would help regulate the process of image distribution so that Indian users are not denied access to this valuable data which has become a mainstay in the developmental and natural resources management activities of the country.

National Geographic Data Infrastructure: A roadmap for India
Government of India took some initiatives to realise the concept of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). In February 2001, a workshop ‘National Geospatial Data Infrastructure: Towards a road map for India’ was organised by Centre for Spatial Database Management and Solutions (CSDMS). The workshop was sponsored by Department of Science and Technology and Department of Space. The workshop was considered as a landmark event on two counts: one, it was a first public poser of Government of India on NGDI and second, is the release of a discussion document ‘NSDI: Strategy and Action Plan’. The document discusses not only the need , content, design elements of NSDI but also elaborates upon its organisational framework, funding mechanism and its implementation. The initiative is very important for the growth of GIS industry as it may result in transfer of more data to public domain.

Clearances to digital map providers started happening
ComputerEyes and Eicher were the few lucky companies who got the government clearance for map publication on the web. Still most of the companies are not aware whom to apply for clearances and there are many companies who have been waiting for more than a year for clearances. This is a major deterrant for Indian GIS industry.

CBI fear stalls Gujarat mapping work
The Gujarat Government shifted Forest Department Principal Secretary P. Basu for his alleged role in handing over of some sensitive maps of forest areas in the border district of Kutch to a private company for a digitisation project allegedly without the mandatory permission of Defence Authorities. The issue got further complicated when a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the High Court and following the orders of the High Court, CBI conducted raids at the premises of the private firm and recovered the topographical maps.

Websites using our maps illegally, claims Eicher
Copyright violation is plaguing the cyberworld. Several web portals and websites are reporting such cases in the recent past. The Eicher City Map of Delhi seems to have been the latest victim of this menace. Eicher Goodearth Ltd., publisher of City Map, recently moved the High Court complaining that a portal had been making unauthorised use of their digital map. They claimed that the portal was using their map illegally by linking to their website, https://www.eicherworld.com, and was earning profits by giving away hyperlinks to other websites. The court issued a stay order in October 2001 and restrained the portal from using maps.