India’s premier mapping and survey organisation Survey of India said that the popular Google Maps is “unapproved” by the government and thus cannot be used for high-end applications. The statement was issued by the Surveyor General of India, Swarna Subba Rao while addressing a programme in New Delhi marking the 250th anniversary of the Survey of India.

He stated that Google Maps is used by low-end applications with a confined accuracy while the maps provided by the Survey of India are used for higher-end works. Further he said,

“If you talk about authentication, the app (Google Maps) is not authenticated. It has not been produced by the government, so they aren’t authenticated”


To give an example he said that people use Google Maps to reach a restaurant or park and even if they are ~50 metres off, they are happy but when one has to set-up national infrastructure like a new railway line or place canals that is where their topographic maps come in. This is due to the quality and accuracy of data in the latter which allows for marvels of engineering.

A senior official from the Survey of India (on condition of anonymity) told IANS that the government did not have control over the information that public applications like Google Maps or Google Earth provide in the public domain.

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Google Earth has been under controversy since it was allegedly used by terrorists for mapping purposes since it displayed high-security and sensitive establishments like India’s Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In the meanwhile, the Survey of India recently took up an initiative to provide its mapping and survey tools to the Indian citizens free of cost. Currently, all the data and mapping information is being uploaded and the site still has some glitches that need to be worked out according to officials.