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Summary: Draft National Geospatial Data Policy, 2021

Months after partially liberalising the country's geospatial sector, the Department of Science and Technology has released the Draft National Geospatial Policy 2021, with the aim of developing an ecosystem. The guidelines published in February 2021 had cleaned up some of the uncertainty around the legality of mapping in India. There was also a touch of protectionism; it provided preferential access of systems useful for mapping data to Indian companies. The policy predicts the worth of the geospatial market in India to grow nearly to be worth nearly Rs 1 lakh crore by 2029-30. "Proactive steps will be taken for stimulating geospatial technological innovation and supporting the growth and development of the geospatial industry in the country." The government will, in due course, bring in appropriate legislation to enforce different provisions of the policy. However, it notes, existing laws such as the Indian Penal Code, IT Act, corporate laws, data and privacy laws will be applicable as required. Purpose: Notwithstanding, the draft policy announcement noted that while the guidelines had liberalised the sector, a comprehensive policy is required to nurture the and develop the geospatial ecosystem to "encourage spatial thinking, generate geospatial knowledge, strengthen geospatial infrastructure, promote use of Geospatial Data, Products, Solutions and Services and boost geospatial entrepreneurship for socio-economic development of the nation". The policy would support the wider democratisation of geospatial data for commercialisation with value added services (VAS), the policy notes. Why the policy is needed The policy notes that the regulatory paradigm in the government, through its various acts,…

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