But a data sharing policy will have to be drafted first 

Land: Since its launch in October last year, an online geo-portal for geospatial data has hardly been accessed.

National Land Commission (NLC) officials said there is a need to create awareness about the the web portal for geospatial information. The web portal is useful for planners and local government officials while framing planning developments activities.

However, the commission is yet to draft a data sharing policy. NLC secretary, Pema Chewang, said that to define who will have access to what level of geospatial data, a data sharing policy is a must.

“Without a policy, we can’t say what kind of data will be freely accessible to whom,” he said. “We’ve to consider the sensitivity of information.”

This issue was discussed during the project-opening seminar in Thimphu yesterday. The land commission with technical assistance from the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) has already begun the process of gathering data for the seven districts in the southern belt.

Although there are various data with different ministries and agencies today, it is not available through one source. On completion of the project in 2017, all data will be available on the web-based geo portal.

Urban Land Division head Yeshey Dorji explained that if a local government official needs to plan a new farm road, he can access details on how many houses, buildings, pubic infrastructures are located along the planned road using the web portal.

Information on the land terrain, if the plan falls on protected area, among others, will also be available without having to go to  the area.

“There will be an overlay of different information,” he said. However, he added that usage is still a challenge.

NLC will also launch a 64-page Atlas of Bhutan shortly. A Nye Atlas, which will have details on the number of stupas, choteons, hot springs and other cultural properties will also be made. The Nye Atlas is expected to help protect cultural properties during construction activities.

The project-opening seminar was attended by dzongdas of the seven southern districts, thromde officials, a JICA project team and officials of other relevant agencies.

By Nirmala Pokhrel