To meet the requirements of the liberalised geospatial data regime unveiled last February, the government has come out with a negative list that bars mapping of economic- and national security-related strategic and sensitive locations such as bulk oil and gas depots, nuclear and many military installations.

“The export of maps and geospatial data with sensitive attributes will be restricted,” said the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, which comes under the Finance Ministry, in a notification issued on Friday.

The notification said the transgression of the threshold values Department of Science and Technology had mentioned in its guideline issued on February 15, 2021, will not be allowed for mapping and collection of location data of the identified installations and facilities.

“For the maintenance of the security of India, it is necessary so to do, hereby prohibits the export of Maps and Geospatial data of spatial accuracy and value finer than the threshold values as specified in Annexure-I,” insisted the notification. And the threshold values are: “On-site spatial accuracy - one meter for horizontal or planimetry and three meters for vertical or elevation,” and “gravity anomaly - one milli-gal”. Likewise, in case of “vertical accuracy of bathymetric data ( study of underwater depth) in territorial waters - ten meters for up to five hundred meters from the shore-line and one hundred meters beyond that”.

The directive has listed out 51 “security installations/ features and secured facilities” that have been tagged as “sensitive attributes” with each carrying “stipulated regulations” to prohibit them from mapping and location data sampling.

For instance, the notification said all missile test ranges, be it for launch and firing, “not to be labelled in geospatial data and map. No attribute to be attached to the feature geometry of these installations (Point, Line, Polygon) in vector form and in geo-tagged Raster form".

Same prohibition holds for oil bulk depots/ storage tanks, LPG/ LNG storage area/tanks and operational control rooms of oil and gas terminals. Seizing up of glacier lake depth has also been barred.

All nuclear installations across the country including, nuclear power plants, heavy water plants, nuclear fuel complex and research and development units are out of bound for mapping and collection of geospatial data.

The country's intelligence agencies and its governance architecture — Aviation Research Centre (ARC), Intelligence Bureau (1B), National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) and Cabinet Secretariat — are also in the negative list. And so is the space centre and space port, and international boundaries with neighbouring countries.

The government had deregularised the mapping regime not only for utilising the data for planning and management of resources and governance but also for exploiting the futuristic technologies driven on big data and artificial intelligence, believe experts.

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