Preparation of a High-Quality Uttarakhand State Map


Bhupen Mehta

 Why was there a need for a good map of Uttarakhand State, India after it became a new state on Nov. 11, 2000

It was sometime in December 2000, when Professor R. Prabhakar, Mr. E Somnathan and I were on a study trip to Uttaranchal (the state renamed Uttarakhand in 2006) and needed a map of the newly created state for quick reference. To our surprise poster-size maps of the just one-month-old state were being sold by footpath vendors in many places across the state. We bought a copy from a footpath vendor and learned that only major places and major roads were shown on the map, and surprisingly many places were wrongly depicted! This small incident caused us to think that we should prepare a good comprehensive map of the state and make it available for all. Later, we had a meeting with Prof. Shekhar Pathak of DSB campus, Nainital. During this meeting we shared with him the idea which had emerged a few days before–to prepare a good map for Uttaranchal. He immediately appreciated the idea and showed his great interest–and this is how the idea was conceived at DSB Campus, Nainital. Now the challenge was to implement the project. Many questions arose, such as from where the basic maps and data could be obtained, who will play what role (individually and also organizationally), who would finance the printing and publishing etc. Last but not least, the biggest challenge would be getting permission form the Survey of India to publish a map, as per the map policy of India existing at that time.

How PAHAR created a first edition map in 2004 and had it printed

Prof. Prabhakar and I were very eager to make it happen, and soon after we arrived back in Anand, Gujarat we discussed this idea with Mr. E. Theophilus (Theo) , who was acting MD of NTGCF (at that time and later known as the Foundation for Ecological Security, a sister organisation of the National Dairy Development Board). Theo was very fascinated to work in the Himalayas, and was implementing a project on natural resource management through community mobilization in the Gori Valley of Munsiari, located in the higher Himalayan region of Uttaranchal. After some rounds of discussion Theo agreed to collaborate with PAHAR (People’s Association for Himalayan Research) to prepare and publish the map jointly. I got an opportunity to work on the map while representing FES (Foundation for Ecological Security), and we built a formal team to implement this project. The team included Bhupendra Mehta (FES), Prof. R. Prabhakar (IRMA), R. Ravindranatah (FES), Prof. Shekhar Pathak (PAHAR), Prof. Raghubir Chand (PAHAR) and Prof. Girija Pande (PAHAR). Formally we started working on it sometime in 2001. The first difficult task was to access the base maps for the states, as distribution of these maps is restricted. Somehow we managed to get basic maps for the state from various sources, digitized various layers, and collected and compiled vast information from various sources.

Here I wish to mention an interesting and important incidence which occured in June, 2004 in Munsiari. I was on an official FES trip to Munsiari project area and coincidentally Mr. Dan Jantzen also visited our field office that day. I think Theo introduced us to each other. It was a good interaction between two people passionate about maps, and digital mapping. This is how a like-minded, very active and passionate person joined our map making team. Dan is a treasury of spatial data, not only for Uttarakhand but for the entire Himalayan region. Wherever he travels his GPS is always on the job. Most of the road alignments, towns and villages depicted on the map are based upon his vast collection of spatial data.

The most difficult part of the project was to get permission from the Survey Of India to publish a new map–it took almost three years to get the clearance–and finally we were able to publish it in November 2004, in English, with the permission of SOI.

 How copies of that map sold out and are now unavailable

I think around 2000 copies of the map were printed, and circulated among government offices, NGOs, schools, colleges etc. as PAHAR typically does. The map was in great demand among all the stakeholders and in about a year it sold out.

How an improved 2nd edition of that map in English and Hindi has now been created

Soon after publishing the first edition of our Uttaranchal map in English it became obvious it should also be published in Hindi. Subsequently, we have compiled all the feedback and suggestions on the published first edition in order to prepare an improved version of the map in both Hindi and English. In 2006 we initiated the preparation process for an improved version by collecting more information, incorporating additional GPS data recorded by Dan, and compiling the new data on various themes. We prepared several draft versions of the maps and circulated them among our group for review. After many rounds of review we have now finalized the first Hindi edition and the second English edition. We believe there still is scope for improving these maps by adding or deleting content, in order to make them more meaningful and more informative. Thus we seek your opinion, advice and suggestions on these digital maps. We will review all the feedback and opinions, make necessary changes, and will then print the final versions for sale and distribution. All comments should be addressed by email to: Bhupen Mehta Thank you for your assistance.

January 2017


Improved Uttarakhand Map — 2 Comments

  1. Thanks a ton MCADD editor, the 2004 map download has been fixed now. Could you tell whether these would keep on getting published until atleast the near future? These are a blessing on those who take their maps assiduously.

    Thanks again.

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