Government of India Government of India


In 1991 there were 4615 towns and cities housing 217 million population (25%) of which only about 1200 towns has Master Plans. As base map to an appropriate scale is a pre-requisite for any planning exercise, the inadequacy of these was grossly felt. As Urban maps needed to be multipurpose to be used by various agencies like Town Planning Departments, Local Bodies, Public Works Departments, Services and Utilities Agencies, Taxation Department, Directorate of Survey and Land Records etc. for planning and monitoring of development and management of towns, the scheme envisaged use of modern technique of aerial photography and remote sensing for preparation and updating of existing base maps by adopting computer based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the techniques of remote sensing for urban planning and development, particularly in monitoring the dynamic aspects of the urban environment.

To meet the requirement of base maps for towns and cities, a pilot scheme for preparing large-scale urban maps using aerial photography for 53 towns was taken up durin the Eighth Five Year Plan.  The project envisaged development of technical capabilities of the town planning organisations at Central and State level so as to enable updating of the maps in a revision cycle.   

In the first phase, 25 towns from six States were selected on priority basis for coverage under this scheme, in consultation with the State Governments, by the Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO), the implementing agency.The work of aerial photography and mapping was assigned to NRSA.  

Subsequently, aerial photography and mapping of 28 towns from 19 states covered under the second phase were identified and entrusted to NRSA. The entire Work of Aerial photography and mapping of all 53 towns has been completed by NRSA in December 2004. All the maps generated under the Scheme have been sent to respective State Town Planning Departments for their use. 


Initially the allocation was for Rs. 4.57 Crores which was enhanced to Rs. 20.39 crores due to increase in area under mapping, costs and change in the technology from analogue photogrammetry to digital mapping and further after firming up the area with NRSA the budget estimate will finally amount to.The total expenditure incurred under the Scheme (both phases) amounts to Rs. 20.19 crores.

Data  Base Organisation And Map Generation

The UMS base maps generated from the aerial photographs are broadly organised into 107 feature classes corresponding to 5 land use classes namely Built-up Structure, Contours, Open Space/Forest, River/Canal and Road/Rail. Each feature class represents a layer in the composite data sets containing 107 layers in DWG format in AutoCAD. The layers depending on the geographic features are stored as point, polyline or  polygon features besides labels as text layer.Existing data contains following features in form of layers in DWG format consist of spatial data i.e. Polyline, Polygon and Point and including Annotation.  These layers included :

  • Boundaries
  • Built-up Structures
  • Contours
  • Open Space/Forest
  • River/Canal
  • Road/Rail

These layers included sub Features like forest & plantation boundaries and official, industrial building, contours( thick & thin ), river, ponds, river fill, stream ( single & double) Road (metal & un metalled) footpath etc.  The sheet wise data is in the form of CAD drawings included different layers of features; these drawings were prepared on the basis of aerial photography/ aerial survey flown in year 1998.  


  • The major problem noticed by the NRSA and State Governments is regarding securing clearance of Ministry of Defence for aerial photography due to which aerial photography of towns namely Asansol, Siliguri, Guwahati  and Pondichery was held up resulting in delays in the execution of the project.
  • Beside the Town Planning Departments are not getting adequate funds for procurement of hardware and software for processing /using/updating the maps.          
  • The Urban Mapping Scheme as a pilot project has paved way for the use of accurate map as well as introduction to modern mapping methods for effective urban planning.  However, the coverage of 53 towns under the      project is negligible in view of 4378 Urban Agglomerations and towns/ cities in the country requiring base maps for urban planning.  
  • Mapping; using modern methods will have to be undertaken in phases due to budget constraints and it has been included as part of National Urban Information System Scheme under the X Five year Plan

Use and Application of UMS Database

ll the maps generated under the scheme have been sent to the respective State Town Planning Departments for their use. From the feedback during the Technical Advisory Committee meeting it was observed that these maps are not only being used for updating Master Plans by the Town Planning Departments but also by other allied agencies such as Utilities deptts. eg. Water Supply Board, Telecom deptt. etc.

Important Links