Geospatial Bill 2016 well-intentioned, but…

Country’s security and integrity must reign supreme, says Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs

P. Bhattacharya, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, has expressed grave concern over the absence of a clear demarcation of India’s national boundaries with neighboring countries which is giving rise to willful and inadvertent cross-border movement of people and leading to illegal trade in narcotics and other nefarious activities.

Speaking at a FICCI conference on ‘Location Based Services (LBS) – 2016: Transforming Coordinates to Business’, Bhattacharya pointed out that inaccurate depiction of maps was not acceptable and the country’s security and integrity cannot be compromised.

Bhattacharya said that while India was technologically sound, lack of technical skills amongst the workforce was affecting the country’s security. He urged FICCI to organize training programmes to upgrade the skills of the technical workforce in collaboration with the Government of India.

In his theme presentation, Rajesh Mathur, Chairman, FICCI Committee on Geospatial Technologies, said that draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016 was a step in the right direction but certain sections needed to be changed. FICCI, he said, was in agreement with the need for a regulatory body and was in favor of no compromise on national security, integrity and sovereignty. He added that FICCI had suggested that national boundaries must be depicted as per Government of India guidelines; vital installations’ internal layout must be masked; and Geospatial information, both in human and machine readable form, must be accessible by all.

Data acquisition, Mathur said, should not require licence. The effort should be to encourage private sector to participate in data acquisition activities and data should be vetted before it is published. On data distribution, he said that there should be no need for licence if data is already vetted. Private sector companies must be encouraged to participate in creation of value added products/service and no vetting should be required for value added products created by way of apps/services.

He said that there should be no restrictions on use and possession of vetted data. It was important to mandate all data creators to share it with all others who can benefit from it and encourage use of modern techniques for data acquisition and dissemination, mandate adoption of standards and define guidelines for Intellectual Property Rights, especially for value added products.

Highlighting the significance of geospatial technologies, Atul Kumar, Chief General Manager, NHAI, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, said that high resolution satellite, UAVs and Geospatial Technology have been useful in highways and have been used for pre-feasibility/ feasibility studies of new alignments, upgrades/ road widening. Also operation, maintenance & road asset management with preparation of GIS based road network would go a long way. He added that geospatial can be used for road safety including identification of blackspots and utilized for land use situation for development of national highways. It can also help in the study of congestion, traffic jams, junction arrangement planning, ROW management, encroachment monitoring and integration of linear chainages with spatial location.

K.S. Parikh, Deputy Director, Space Applications Centre, Indian Space Research Organization, Ahmedabad, said that India is the fourth country to build and own navigation constellation in the world. Position, Navigation and Timing servicers are essential requirements of the day. Several applications are undertaken by official agencies and there is ample opportunity for innovation and development of new applications. He added that GAGAN- GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation, an overlay system built around the GPS and NAVIC, an independent navigation satellite system established by India, capable of providing Position, Navigation and Timing services over India will benefit the country in both aviation and non-aviation sectors.

Rakesh Verma, Member, FICCI Committee on Geospatial Technologies and Managing Director, MapmyIndia, said, “The Geospatial Bill should be an opportunity to create a level playing field for Indian industry rather than be restrictive.”