The Survey of India (SoI) has released the first map in digital format on WGS 84 Datum for civilian use. In a ceremony held at Department of Science and Technology on November 20, 2002, Prof V S Ramamurthy, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India released the digital map of Gujarat state at 1:25,000 scale on World Geodetic System (WGS-84). Map was released both in analogue and digital format and is available for sale at Surveyor General’s office. This is a significant step on the part of SoI as in a last few years user community is demanding reliable high-resolution data in digital form. So far the data was not available for the whole country except a low-resolution data derived from 1:250,000 scale topographical maps. As per current restriction policy of Ministry of Defence (MoD), topographical data falling within 50 kms (approx) from international boundaries/coastline are classified as restricted. Maps of restricted categories can only be issued to government departments/NGOs after completing formalities as laid down by MoD. Moreover digital data of all topographical maps have been classified as restricted. To overcome such difficulties of end users, SoI introduced two series of maps. One series of maps on Everest spheroid datum with existing map projection and all existing details for use of Defence forces only. And the second series of maps on WGS-84 datum on UTM projection with less detail for use of public. The release of digital maps of Gujarat (restricted zone) for public use is just a beginning in this direction. Very soon SoI will release the digital map on WGS series for the entire country.
While releasing the map, Prof Ramamurthy said this initiative of Survey of India would go a long a way to meet the users needs. Dr Prithvish Nag, Surveyor General of India termed the event as an historical moment for Survey of India and called upon the users and industry to give make maximum usage of data and customise the same for meeting user needs of contemporary times. Mr Amitabha Pande (the man considered to be the Architect of dual series of maps in India), Joint Secretary, Department of Science and Technology perceived this event as a demonstration of a sea change in the attitude of SoI, an organisation, which is not habitual to provide information in public domain. While applauding the efforts of SoI, he said that SoI has done a great job of releasing the WGS 84 series maps in a very short time framework.
Commenting on the occasion, Mukund Rao from Indian Space Research Organisation said, “Release of WGS 84 series of maps in digital format is a welcome step and appreciated the initiative as a very pragmatic step to meet the user requirements.
Responding to the event, Ravi Gupta, Editor of GIS Development magazine, said “Its long dream come true. I have been raising the need of making maps available in public domain for past five years through our magazine. Finally we have seen change in policy and attitude of map producing agencies and hope that these kinds of initiatives will continue in full swing. This is a great day for Indian geospatial community and I am sure the users and industry will capitalise on this opportunity for the benefit of the society a large”
Source: GIS Development Team