Government’s Geospatial bill receives mixed response

Raj Kamal Rao

Governments proposed Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016 has received mixed responses from public sector units like NHAI and industry body FICCI. The deadline to furnish people response ended on June 3.

MAP-RS

A representative picture of Geospatial map

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs P Bhattacharya expressed grave concern over absence of a clear demarcation of country’s national boundaries while examining the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016.

Bhattacharya said that any inaccurate depiction of maps is not acceptable as it gives rise to wilful and inadvertent cross-border movement of people and sometimes leading to illegal trade in narcotics on neighbouring borders.

“While India is technologically sound, lack of technical skills amongst the workforce was affecting the country’s security,” said the head of the parliamentary panel.

File photo of Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs P Bhattacharya  at a conference in Delhi.Photo-PTI

File photo of Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs P Bhattacharya at a conference in Delhi.Photo-PTI

As per the draft, wrong depiction of India’s map could land the violators in jail with a maximum term of seven years and fine upto Rs 100 crore

Several petitions who submitted their response opposed the government’s move saying that it will affect millions of Indians (Individuals or companies) using maps from Google, Microsoft or other service. Industry believes that the bill will hit firms like Uber, Zomato and Ola that depend on maps.

Industry bodies like FICCI, ASSOCHAM have asked the government to keep national boundaries must be depicted as per Government guidelines and allow others to use existing services.

“Vital installations of internal security must be masked; and Geospatial information, both in human and machine readable form, must be accessible by all,” said a member of Industry body FICCI.

File photo of Union Minister of Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh. Photo-PTI

File photo of Union Minister of Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh.
Photo-PTI

The National Highway Authority of India also made its suggestions saying that high resolution satellite, UAVs and geospatial technology will be useful in highways and help them in assessing new alignments and road widening.

On May 4th, 2016 the Ministry of Home Affairs published a bill that controls the acquisition, dissemination, publication and distribution of geospatial information in and outside India.

This bill could make your daily use of maps illegal by requiring a 3 month vetting and approval process for any use of mapping.

Government has invited stake holder suggestions on the draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016 which makes it mandatory to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India.