A brief function held at St. Thomas Mount in Chennai, India on Wednesday, to unveil a bronze bust of William Lambton, symbolised a visit to another era. An era 200 years back, when Lambton used a nicely constructed Theodolite and the raw courage of a band of men for the greatest survey and mapping work ever attempted. And finally succeeded.
On April 10, 1802, Lambton began the Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS) to completely measure and map the Indian subcontinent by measuring a 12-km long baseline near Chennai. The baseline was needed to form The Great Arc — a survey comprising a series of measurements running from India’s North to South — with utmost accuracy.
Prithvish Nag, now the Surveyor-General of India, who unveiled Lambton’s bust, places the work of the GTS in today’s perspective thus: The Great Arc is the foundation on which the Survey of India was now building on. Almost all of India’s development work has benefited from the GTS. This function recalls the missionary zeal of the Survey of India’s first participants to map the country.
An entourage of the Union Department of Science and Technology is in Chennai to wrap up the celebrations organised to mark the 200th anniversary of the Great Arc. The Department Secretary, V.S. Ramamurthy, who launched a Tamil Nadu Geospatial Data Centre at the Anna University’s Institute of Remote Sensing, said Chennai had a special place for the occasion. It was in this city the 12-km baseline up to Marina beachfront was formed to begin the survey.
Source: The Hindu
18th September 2003