Survey of India

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The Survey of India (Hindi: भारतीय सर्वेक्षण विभाग ) is India's central engineering agency in charge of mapping and surveying. Set up in 1767[1] to help consolidate the territories of the British East India Company, it is one of the oldest Engineering Departments of the Government of India. The Survey of India's distinguished history includes the handling of the mammoth Great Trigonometrical Survey under William Lambton and George Everest and the discovery of Mt. Everest.[2] Its members are from Survey of India Service cadre of Civil Services of India.


Old logo of the Survey of India

Survey of India publishes maps and the unrestricted category maps can be obtained at very reasonable prices from its several Geo-spatial data centers. Restricted category maps require due approval from government authorities. Many other rules govern the sale and use of Survey of India maps. Only an Indian citizen may purchase topographic maps and these may not be exported from India for any reason.[citation needed]


The history of the Survey of India dates back to the 18th Century. Forerunners of army of the East India Company and sometimes in its wake Surveyors had onerous task of exploring the unknown. Bit by bit the tapestry of Indian terrain was completed by the painstaking efforts of a distinguished line of Surveyors such as Mr. William Lambton and Sir George Everest. It is a tribute to the foresight of such Surveyors that at the time of independence the country inherited a survey network built on scientific principles. The great trigonometric series spanning the country from North to South & East to West are some of the best geodetic control series available in the world. The scientific principles of surveying have since been augmented by the latest technology to meet the multi- disciplinary requirement of data from planners and scientists.

Organized into only 5 Directorates in 1950, mainly to look after the mapping needs of Defence Forces in North West and North East, the Department has now grown into 18 Directorates spread in all parts of the country to provide the basic map coverage required for the development of the country. Its technology, latest in the world, has been oriented to meet the needs of defense forces, planners and scientists in the field of geo-sciences, land and resource management. Its expert advice is being utilized by various Ministries and undertakings of Government of India in many sensitive areas including settlement of international borders, State boundaries and in assisting planned development of hitherto under developed areas.

Faced with the requirement of digital topographical data, the department has created three Digital centers during late eighties to generate Digital Topographical Data Base for the entire country for use in various planning process and creation of geographic information system. Its specialized Directorates such as Geodetic and Research Branch, Research & Development Directorate and Survey Training Institute have been further strengthened to meet the growing requirement of users community. The department is also assisting in many scientific programmes of the nation related to the field of geo-physics, remote sensing and digital data transfers.


The Survey of India, headquartered at Dehra Dun, has 18 civil engineering divisions ranging from the prediction of tides to aerial survey. It has 23 Geo-spatial Data Centers spread across India, each catering to the respective administrative area.Surveyors are the back bone of Survey of India. Appointments to Group 'A' Civil Engineering posts in the Junior Time Scale in Survey of India are made on the basis of competitive Indian Engineering Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. The important Civil Engineering posts and Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering posts in Survey of India Service, divided between SIS (Civil) and SIS (EC & TE), are as below:

  1. Draftsman
  2. Plane Tabler
  3. Survey Assistant
  4. Surveyor
  5. Officer Surveyor
  6. Deputy Superintending Surveyor
  7. Superintending Surveyor
  8. Superintending Surveyor (Non-Functional Second Grade)/Deputy Director
  9. Director/Deputy Surveyor General
  10. Additional Surveyor General
  11. Surveyor General


Survey Of India will take a leadership role in providing user focused,cost effective,reliable and quality geospatial data,information and intelligence for meeting the needs of national security, sustainable national development,and new information markets.


Survey Of India dedicates itself to the advancement of theory, practice, collection and applications of geospatial data,and promotes an active exchange of information, ideas, and technological innovations amongst the data producers and users who will get access to such data of highest possible resolution at an affordable cost in the near real-time environment.

Activities/ Charter of Duties[edit]

The Survey of India acts as adviser to the Government of India on all survey matters, viz Geodesy, Photogrammetry, Mapping and Map Reproduction. However, the main duties and responsibilities of the Survey of India are enumerated below:

  • All Geodetic Control (Horizontal and Vertical) and Geodetic and Geophysical surveys.
  • All Topographical Control, Surveys and Mapping within India.
  • Mapping and Production of Geographical Maps and Aeronautical Charts.
  • Surveys for Developmental Projects.
  • Survey of Forests, Cantonments, large scale city surveys, guide maps, cadastral surveys etc.
  • Survey and Mapping of special maps.
  • Spellings of Geographical names.
  • Demarcation of the External Boundaries of the Republic of India, their depiction on maps published in the country and also advice on the demarcation of inter-state boundaries.
  • Training of officers and staff required for the Department, trainees from Central Government Departments and States and trainees from Foreign Countries as are sponsored by the *Government of India.
  • Research and Development in Cartography, Printing, Geodesy, Photogrammetry, Topographical Surveys and Indigenisation.
  • Prediction of tides at 44 ports including 14 foreign ports and publication of Tide Tables one year in advance to support navigational activities.
  • Scrutiny and Certification of external boundaries of India and Coastline on maps published by the other agencies including private publishers.

See also[edit]



  • Reginald Henry Phillimore, Historical Records of the Survey of India, 5 vols. Dehra Dun, Survey of India (1945–1968)

External links[edit]