Government aims to revamp geospatial policy

The website of Department of Science & Technology, will host a draft paper for public consultation up to May 30th

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Sudipto Dey New Dlhi
Despite criticism of the draconian penalty provisions in the draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016, the government plans to come up with new geospatial policy.

A draft National Geospatial Policy (NGP) paper has been uploaded on the website of Department of Science & Technology for public consultation till May 30.

It is aimed at encouraging the use of geospatial data, products, services and solutions (GDPSS) among government departments, businesses, research institutions and non-government agencies, says the draft policy paper.

In a departure from existing practice, the draft policy envisages that geospatial data, products and solutions will no longer be classified on the basis of geographies. To be made available through a single-window online portal, the spatial data would come in a standard format based on features, with three classes of access — restricted, unrestricted and open. For instance, printed maps will come with features obliterated, if classified.

Any necessary clearances and permits for data acquisition and dissemination would be available to users within 30 days from filing of an online request.

“The NGP will facilitate ease of doing business, and help government departments and businesses use geospatial data in their decision-making process,” said a senior official from Department of Science & Technology.

As per the draft policy, all government departments would have to catalogue, maintain and update the geospatial data in a phased manner to facilitate easy and uninterrupted access. Also in the offing is a programme to help start-ups look into geo-value chain for development of apps. “The policy initiative will help coordinate the collection and presentation of geospatial data in the country,” said Rahul Matthan, partner, Trilegal. India is one of the few countries in the world that still follow antiquated mapping policies.

Last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs had come out with a draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016 to ensure that all maps distributed in the country — digitally or physically — adhere to the government guidelines. It proposes that any violation of guidelines could attract imprisonment up to seven years, and a fine that could vary from Rs 1 crore to Rs 100 crore.

Legal experts have been critical of the government’s efforts to introduce a licence-permit raj in acquisition, dissemination, publication and distribution of geospatial information.

First Published: May 11 2016 | 12:17 PM IST

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