The Survey of India (SoI) released 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 the 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 has 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 user needs. He also said that all efforts are being made to generate maps of other parts of the country on WGS 84 datum and Survey of India will keep on releasing maps as and when they are ready. He advised Survey of India to speed up the work and encourage industry to add value to the digital data and market the same to the users at a reasonable price. He also emphasised that more and more layers of information should be provided to the users.
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. He also urged the users and industry to inform about the priority areas (for which they need maps early) so that SoI can take up and release those areas on priority.
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.