In the news: India Survey

The Survey of India (SOI), India’s 250-year-old mapmaker, will lose its monopoly on producing high-resolution maps. However, the SOI will continue to be the arbiter of maps dealing with state and national borders.

Key announcements by SOI

  • The SoI will now take action against digital platforms that violate its guidelines and will develop a framework to ensure map accuracy.
  • Regulating digital platform use: The SoI has also requested that digital platforms follow its guidelines and seek its permission before publishing maps of the country.
  • Ensure territorial integrity: The move is intended to ensure that maps accurately depict the country’s borders and territorial integrity, and that sensitive locations are not jeopardised by the publication of maps that violate the country’s security interests.
  • In a nutshell, the Survey of India (SOI) will now function more like a regulatory organisation.

What exactly is the Survey of India?

  • The Survey of India (SOI) is the country’s central engineering agency in charge of mapping and surveying.
  • W. Mather conducted the “first modern scientific survey of India” in 1793-96 on the orders of Col. Alexander Read, Superintendent of Salem and Baramahal (TN).
  • It is one of the oldest Engineering Departments of the Government of India, having been established in 1767 to assist in the consolidation of the British East India Company’s territories.
  • Its members are Civil Services of India Survey of India Service cadre and Army Officers from the Indian Army Corps of Engineers.
  • The Surveyor General of India presides over it.


  • Advisor to the Government: The Survey of India advises the Government of India on all matters related to cartography in India, such as geodesy, mapping, and map reproduction.
  • It is in charge of the naming convention and spellings of names of geographical features in India.
  • Publication and certification: Scrutiny and certification of external boundaries of India and Coastline on maps published by other agencies including private publishers.
  • Surveys: geodetic datum, geodetic control network, topographical control, geophysical surveys, cadastral surveying, geologic maps, aeronautical charts within India, such as for forests, army cantonments, large scale cities, guide maps, developmental or conservation projects, etc.
  • National borders: Demarcation of the borders and external boundaries of India as well as advice on the demarcation of inter-state boundaries.
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