Central and State Governments have just about begun to make use of the imaging capabilities of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO)/National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) geo-portal ‘Bhuvan’ providing a platform for geo-spatial applications in town and country planning, writes V.Geetanath

When it is next to impossible to find out whether a plot of land in the city or on the outskirts is genuine or not and whether the layout has been officially approved or not from the local municipal body or urban development authority concerned, what is the best way out?

A legal opinion perhaps will help. Yet, think of a scenario where all you have to do is log onto the internet, search for the site on the local body’s website where with the help of the satellite imagery, all the necessary details of the site can be found out within no time.

Information including whether the plot originates from an approved layout, size and even dimensions can be found out without the need to run around Government offices. The same approach can be applied to find out the antecedents of a building, whether it is legal, any deviations from the sanctioned plans, illegal floors, setbacks, change in land use over the years and so on. Before you leap with joy, remember that these web based satellite applications still have a long way to go as the Central and State Governments have just about begun to make use of the imaging capabilities of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO)/National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) geo-portal ‘Bhuvan’ providing a platform for geo-spatial applications in town and country planning. Before these applications reach the home of a common citizen, the satellite imagery is sought to be used to expedite precise base maps and master plans of the urban areas for better planning.

A few days ago, Union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna, NRSA Director V.K. Dadhwal and others senior officials were present when the Director of Town & Country Planning (DTCP), B. Purushothama Reddy, made a presentation of a pilot study made of Khammam town where existing master plan was juxtaposed with satellite data provided by ‘Bhuvan’.

In this case, field data collection was gathered through mobile devices using GIS technology, transmitted real time to the central server system.

The master plan was geo-referenced and overlaid on the satellite imagery along with ground observation data. This online mapping of the area with GIS layers and Bhuvan satellite imagery can be accessed by the town planner through the internet. Subsequently, the model can scaled up for use by general public,

To verify changes in the land use, ground observation data can be used as a point layer. Updation of existing land use with proper authorisation mechanism is also possible, it was explained.

The pilot project is part of the National Urban Information System (NUIS) initiated in 2006 by the Centre to develop GIS databases for 152 cities/towns but has been slow to take off.