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Re: Restrictions on map data in digital form

Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
It is hard to imagine what goes on in the heads of the bureaucrats who come
up with these restrictions (on the procurement and use of maps). Anybody
can go out and buy single digit meter resolution photos (or maps) in the
open market. I believe that a Canadian company has recently launched an
imaging satellite with one meter resolution and more commercial imaging
satellites with resolution of the order of one meter are on the way. Our
two neighbors have access to the services of these companies and, in the
case of China, have a robust dedicated space-based photo-intelligence 

The lack of accurate land ownership records leads to many opportunities for
corruption and fraud. Since ownership of land is still the arbitrator of
power in rural India (and Urban India), those with the ability to
manipulate land records obtain disproportionate amount of (political)
power. Lack of accurate records also makes property transactions less
certain and more costly. Moreover, the ability to petition the courts to
redress disputes related to property is lessened since, in the absence of
non-corruptable records, the courts are unable to arrive at decisions
quickly and effectively. This, in turn, acts as an impediment to the
establishment of an efficiently functioning market for land. The
inefficiency of the courts also leads to extra-legal or illegal forms of
"dispute resolution" usually involving criminals-police-politicians.
Finally, the lack of proper records denies the possibility of rational
land reforms.  	      

Given the importance of having accurate land records, I believe that a
computerized database should be maintained (at the district level) in
every district where an accurate and non-manipulable accounting of land
use in that district is kept.   

Abhijit Sarkar
320 Wisconsin Ave. Apt #319
Oak Park, Illinois 60302 USA
(708) 848-5624

On Tue, 11 Jan 2000, Prof. R. Jagadiswara Rao wrote:

> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 05:49:54 +0530
> India is almost the only country in the world, which has put enormous 
> restrictions in the usage of topographic maps and aerial photographs 
> ever since its war with China. Procedure to procure aerial photographs 
> and coastal topographic maps has been made so difficult that most people 
> particularly teachers, researchers and students requiring them forgot 
> that there were such maps at all. In order to teach aerial photography 
> and coastal geomorphology, the readily-available coastal maps and aerial 
> photographs of other countries had to be used.
> Through a World Bank assisted project, the National Remote Sensing 
> Agency (NRSA) supplied aerial photographs to several corporations and 
> municipalities in India. Because of the restrictions of  the Ministry of 
> Defence (MOD), these photographs in the custody of the town planning 
> officers could never be put to use, except for sending at the end of 
> every year a safe custody report to the concerned authorities. Despite 
> these restrictions, foreign companies had to be allowed to take aerial 
> photographs of potential mineral-bearing areas for the purpose of 
> mineral exploration.
> With the initial availability of satellite imageries without 
> restrictions, there was a sigh of relief that these imageries could at 
> least be used without any restriction. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) 
> soon found a method of introducing restrictions even in the use of 
> output obtained from coastal satellite imageries on the basis that their 
> preparation involved the use of restricted topographic maps. The MOD in 
> its memorandum dated 13th July 1998 has introduced severe restrictions 
> in the use of information obtained through digitisation of map data and 
> showing digital data in the Internet even in the case of unrestricted 
> areas.
> Because of the initiative of the high-tech Chief Minister N. Chandrababu 
> Naidu, the Government of Andhra Pradesh has used a Geographic 
> Information System (GIS) to prepare about a year ago nine-metre 
> resolution maps covering almost the entire state giving the exact 
> location of features such as buildings, dwellings, godowns, schools and 
> agricultural fields, which help in the planning and execution of rescue 
> and relief operations during disasters such as floods and cyclones. But 
> these maps could not be put to use so far for want of a certificate from 
> the MOD that their usage does not lead to leakage of information on 
> sensitive installations vital for the security of the country. After all 
> the security of the country is more important than the possible help 
> these maps would render to the disaster victims!
> The Government of Andhra Pradesh has now taken up two works involving 
> digitisation of high resolution maps under the World Bank Assisted 
> Hazard Mitigation and Emergency Cyclone Recovery Project. One is the 
> "Delta and watershed managements including development of flood 
> forecasting model and spatial flood warning" entrusted to Babtie 
> International, a UK-based consulting firm, while the other is the 
> "Rainfall, wind and storm surge modelling, cyclone tracking including 
> coastal zone management" entrusted to WLI Delft Hydraulics, a 
> Netherlands-based consulting firm.
> All these works could be entrusted to foreign firms, as the MOD does not 
> think that the country's security would be hampered by involving foreign 
> experts in the digitisation work, but only find it necessary to impose 
> restrictions for government departments to make use of the output of 
> digitisation work.
> As there is no clearance from the MOD, the official website of Andhra 
> Pradesh www.andhrapradesh.com had to keep the highly informative GIS 
> available with it in cold storage and be content showing the sketchy 
> maps of Andhra Pradesh prepared by the www.mapsofindia.com in its 
> website.
> Why should India alone follow these policies in the name of security 
> when the entire world including Russia do not impose such restrictions? 
> When a person of the stature of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh has 
> to accept delays and bow down to the policies of the MOD, who else can 
> remove these restrictions?
> Remote sensing has developed so much that high resolution maps with high 
> positional accuracy, exceptional detail and GIS-ready, where one can 
> recognise objects as small as one metre on the Earth, could be purchased 
> from companies such as the Colorado-based "Space Imaging" at affordable 
> price. The MOD may impose restrictions in the use of such maps in India, 
> but can it stop other countries from buying imageries of India? The MOD 
> may prohibit government departments and companies in India from showing 
> accurate digitised maps in the Internet, but can it stop MSN Encarta 
> from showing large scale digitised maps of India of high accuracy in the 
> Internet?
> A gist of the latest MOD restrictions on map data as approved by the 
> Committee of Secretaries, Government of India is as follows.
> 1.. Till now, Survey of India (SOI) was the only agency authorised to 
> undertake digitisation on the basis of Ground Survey Data. In addition 
> to this, eight other Government departments requiring digital map data 
> for various development activities (that is, Department of Space, 
> National Informatics Centre, Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment, 
> Geological Survey of India, National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use 
> Planning, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Environment & 
> Forests, and Department of Ocean Development) would be allowed to 
> undertake digitisation of topographic maps of unrestricted areas upto 
> 1:50,000 scale, already published by SOI, after deleting Defence/Civil 
> VAs/VPs and important strategic locations.
> 2. The digital data/map content of unrestricted areas can include
> (i) administrative boundaries as depicted in the SOI maps,
> (ii) road features,
> (iii) drainage system not connected with any dam,
> (iv) all water bodies excepting dams, hydroelectric station symbols and 
> their descriptions,
> (v) relief in form of layers/slopes and a few spot heights that appear 
> on the SOI maps,
> (vi) boundaries of cities, towns and villages,
> (vii) man-made features other than those areas falling under existing 
> MOD restriction,
> (viii) area and point features of 'development specific' nature as 
> worked out with SOI alone to be provided to each user, and
> (ix) an arbitrary grid (not the 'true' grid) for the 'development 
> specific' areas.
> 3. Any of these nine authorised Government departments can provide the 
> above digital data to Non-Governmental Organisations and private 
> agencies registered with them for development activities for bonafide 
> use on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding and an undertaking 
> that the information would not be disclosed to third parties.
> 4.  Although any of these nine authorised Government departments can 
> make value addition to the digitised data, any circulation of the 
> improved data has to be cleared by the SOI.
> 5. Security clearance for 'restricted areas' has to be obtained as usual 
> from the Army Headquarters and such data should not be made available in 
> the Internet.
> R. Jagadiswara Rao
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
> Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/