Second Global Surveyors Day : Chain to Drone Survey

Second Global Surveyors Day : Chain to Drone Survey

Buddhi Narayan Shrestha

Founder President, Nepal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Nepal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (NICS) organized the Second Global Surveyors Day in Survey Department Geodetic Hall on 21st March 2019; with the collaboration of Nepal Geomatics Engineering Society (NGES), Nepal Remote Sensing & Photogrammetric Society (NRSPS), and Nepal Surveyors Association (NSA); and supported by Survey Department (SD) and UN Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM). The program was organized into two parts: first the inauguration function and the second session was the panel discussion.

A. First session: Inauguration

The session was chaired by Punya Prasad Oli, President of NICS. Hon’ble Minister for Land Management Ms. Padma Kumari Aryal was the chief guest. National Planning Commission (NPC) Hon’ble Member Dr. Sushil Bhatta was the special guest and Secretary to Ministry of Land Management Gopi Nath Mainali was the guest of the program.

During the inaugural session, Minister Ms. Aryal mentioned that survey, mapping and geo-informatics organizations must help to the government and the State to establish accurate data and prepare exact maps in connection to establish effective land management and administration of the nation. Professionalism should be maintained by the Surveyors of all disciplines. Modern technology should be imported to carry on the smart land administration. The ministry is to act on the e-governance of land. We need contribution from the land related organizations and associations. In this aspect I wish all the best for the successful and fruitful objectives of the Second Global Surveyors Day.

NPC Member Hon’ble Engineer Dr. Sushil Bhatta delivered a Key Note Speech that for the planning and execution of the economic development projects of the nation, Surveyors role is important for the preparation of necessary maps and field data. For the hydro-electric generation project, first and foremost, it needs accurate topographical maps with detail surveying to make a plan to locate the main power house, alignment of the water channel and formulation of transmission line. Surveyors have a hardship life in the field from the beginning to the end of the project. In this perspective, Surveyors must maintain credibility, code of conduct and ethics. He expressed for the success of the global surveyors day programme.

From the chair, NICS President Punya Prasad Oli expressed that after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, some geodetic control points might have been shaky. It should be revitalized. We, the Surveyors must be cautious to maintain our profession and professionalism adopting the ethics and code of conduct propounded by the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). Border issues of Kalapani and Susta area conflicts should be resolved amicably with our neighbouring country. It needs the professional skill, know-how and field experiences.

President of the NGES Er. Sharad Chandra Mainali thanked all for sparing their time to observe second global surveyors day. He further said, it’s a matter of pride to celebrate the Day in Nepal to enhance our survey profession and identity of Surveyors. We have to be capable to adopt new techniques and technologies to maintain Surveyors identity.

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B. Second session: Panel Discussion

Theme of the panel discussion was: 5-Generation (5G) in Surveying and Geomatics in Nepal: from ‘Chain Survey to Drone Survey.’

1. Concept of panel discussion:

The concept was to invite the representatives of five different generations in Surveying & Mapping in one forum and to get their opinions on the evolution and development in this profession in Nepal.

This event was proposed to be celebrated Global Surveyors Day, in collaboration with the various professional organizations in Surveying and Geomatics.

The theme was dedicated to the combined and collaborative effort of respected seniors and young professions.

2. Objective of the panel discussion:

To get familiar to each other

To get acquainted with the evolution in surveying and mapping techniques and profession in Nepal

To get opinion of different generations of surveyors on various current issues of the profession, sharing the experiences,

To harmonize the wishes and expectations of the professionals of various generation

Recognize the efforts of the earlier generation and set vision for the next generation

3. The ‘Generation’ was decided on the following general criteria:

The Surveyor who started his/her career from 1960 to 1975: First Generation

The Surveyor who started his/her career from 1975 to 1990: Second Generation

The Surveyor who started his/her career from 1990 to 2005: Third Generation

The Surveyor who started his/her career from 2005 to 2019: Fourth Generation

The Surveyor who has not started his her career in the Government yet and working in the private sector: Fifth Generation

4. Proposed panelists:

Representative of first generation surveyors was Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, Former Director General Survey Dept.

Representative of second generation surveyors was Babu Ram Acharya, Former Director General Survey Dept and Former Secretary, Ministry of Land Management.  

Representative of third generation surveyors was Ganesh Prasad Bhatta, Director General Survey Dept.

Representative of fourth generation surveyors was Ms. Bhuvan Ranjit, Survey Instructor, Land Management Training Centre.

Representative of fifth generation surveyors was Uttam Pudasaini, Collaborator/Surveyor, Naxa (Map) Pvt. Ltd.

The whole concept and idea of this panel discussion was conceptualized and chalked down by Surveyor Janak Raj Joshi, Joint-Secretary, Ministry of Land Management. He was also the co-ordinator/moderator while conducting panel discussion.Modality of panel discussion

5. Modality of panel discussion

The panel discussion was carried out in three rounds (Maximum 2 hours)

  1. In the first round, each panelist had been asked to present orally his/her views or share opinions on particular theme or question or issue raised by the moderator. Discussion was initiated from Mr. Buddhi Narayan Shrestha and then proceed further to Mr. Baburam Acharya, Mr. Ganesh Prasad Bhatta, Ms. Bhuvan Ranjit and finally ended to Mr. Uttam Pudasaini respectively. Each panelist had been given 7 minutes to express themselves in the first round.
  2. In the second round, the moderator came back again with some complementary questions which could be situational or depend upon the discussions on the first round. The panelists has been given opportunity to further clear their points and arguments in this round.  Each panelist got 5 minutes in this round.
  3. In the third round the Audiences would have been suggested to post their queries to the selected panelist and the panelist did answer queries of the audiences. Priority had been given to the young surveyors and professionals. This round lasted nearly for 30 minutes.
  4. A spare time of 30 minutes was reserved for opening remark, introduction of the panelists, moderation processes, closing remarks etc.

6. Questions/Theme of discussion for each panelist:

In the beginning of panel discussion, Coordinator Mr. Janak Raj Joshi made an opening remark and introduced the panelists, and mentioned the moderation processes.

6.1 First Generation (1960 to 1975): Chain Survey to Tacheometry

At first, moderator Mr. Joshi made a question to Mr. Buddhi Narayan Shrestha in the first and second round discussions: You are one of the pioneering the profession and a contributor to laying foundation of surveying in Nepal. Your generation started from Chain, continued with PT, and come up with a result of cadastral mapping system and geodetic control network, trigonometric surveying systems. What Challenges did you face to establish and strengthen the profession, how did you do all these things from the beginning?

Responding to moderator’s desire, Mr. Shrestha mentioned, representing the period 1960 to 1975 from Chain to Tacheometry Survey:

  1. First generation was the take-off stage of Surveying & Geomatics in Nepal. This was from traditional to technical developing stage.
  2. Land registration system from conveyancing to deed.    
  3. Equipment used: from chain to tape, plane table (with sight rule), microptic telescope alidade with stadia rod, Theodolite and then EDM (tacheometry).
  4. Technology: wooden peg to RCC trigonometrical control point.
  5. Technique: Manual to material (hardware).
  6. Area Computation: Talc Square transparent to graduated computation scale.
  7. Area unit: Bijan, hale, pate, kodale, kute, matomuri, ropani, bigha to squaremetre (hectare).
  8. Map making material: Simple drawing paper/cloth mount to gridded transparent plastic map sheet.
  9. Map drawing equipment: Bamboo pen, crocket pen to stand graph graphos pen; used solid ink tablet to pelican liquid ink.
  10. Map scale: Graphic to numeric (1″= 400 ft. to 1:1250.
  11. Organization: Military to civil. Civil Survey Department was formed in 1958.
  12. Manpower: 50 to 150 personnel.
  13.  UNDP assigned foreign Cadastral Expert in the post of Director Mr. JRG Harrop (1966 to 1973) and Geodetic Expert as the Deputy Director of Geodetic Branch Mr. ZM Wiedner (1970 to 1977).
  14. Rules & Regulations: Land (Survey & Measurement) Act-1963 and Regulations-1976; 

Main challenges:

  • Old staff versus new technology.
  • Under Matriculation education versus geometric formula implementation.
  • School Leaving Certificate (SLC) manpower versus use of transit Theodolite and EDM Equipment.
  • Unskilled personnel versus maintenance of Microptic Telescopic Alidade, repairment of Theodolite and EDM equipment.
  • Low financial budget to purchase new equipment and materials.
  • Land registration system could not go to Title System/ Numerical. 

Challenges overcome:

  1. Took-off from conventional to developing stage.
  2. Survey Education: Under Matriculation to Graduation (Master Degree), within and outside the nation.
  3. In-house Training: Basic Surveyor to Senior Surveyor and Special Courses under the assistance of Colombo Plan.
  4. Abroad: Land Surveying Course to 500 Survey Engineering Course.
  5. Publication of Technical Circulars Survey Directory 1967-72, Triangulation Instruction Book-1975.
  6. Equipment repair and maintenance workshop was established with the assistance of Japanese JOCV Volunteers with Nepal counterpart.


  1. This generation was able to import foreign technology, as an opportunity to develop surveying activities in Nepal.
  2. Educated persons started to enter into Survey department services.
  3. UNDP experts started to reform survey organization.
  4. Initiated technical procedures on the measurement of land and establishment of land records.
  5. Measurement of land and computation of area was carried on from local to metric unit.
  6. Nepali Surveyors obtained opportunities to attend the surveying education abroad.
  7. Organization was expanded and established divisions and branches.
  8. Surveyors started to write books on Surveying, e.g. first book entitled ‘ Surveying’ was written by Director Netra Bahadur Thapa in 1961.
  9. Survey Department started to participate in UN Cartographic Conferences.

6.2 Second Generation (1975 to 1990): Tacheometry to Photogrammetry

Moderator Mr. Joshi put a question to Mr. Babu Ram Acharya in both the round discussions: You took the profession further and establish it in the international level. You also initiated technological development such as GPS and Total stations. Also GIS and Remote sensing system was introduced in surveying and mapping in Nepal, Topographic base maps, completion of cadastral mapping, NTDB and NSDI are the initiatives that has been contributed by your generation. How was the change managed? How did you convince the politicians and policy makers that these changes in the surveying and mapping are inevitable? What are those things that you want to carry further but couldn’t make it happened?

Mr. Acharya, as the second generation panelist responded to Mr. Joshi: you are correct that you have mentioned the activities of the development of surveying, mapping and geomatics from 1975 to 1990.

Changed management

  1. Doppler survey was carried on with the establishment of fundamental station at Nagarkot Hill with the help of Czech Republic.
  2. Nagarkot fundamental station was expanded by running 24 hours GPS tracking.
  3. Traditional Survey Goswaras (Groups) were dissolved and the manpower was transferred to district survey office, which were more concerned for the day to day transaction of land of general people in relation to land administration.  
  4. The identity of the Survey Department was expanded to the international level with the assistance of the foreigner donour agencies.
  5. Survey Department obtained the Affiliate Membership of FIG.
  6. Asian Conference on Remote Sensing was held in Kathmandu for the first time in Nepal.
  7. Software and its sharing system was developed for the national geographic information system as per the geographic location and situation of Nepal.

Convince the politicians and policy makers

  • I could not convince too much to the politicians that surveying activities are important for the development of the nation.  Rather they were interested to invest more in drinking water, road construction and hydro-electric generation projects.
  • I insisted them that those projects, at first, need accurate maps and data for the planning and implementation/execution of the project.   


  1. Nepali Surveyors had obtained academic qualification and training from UK, USA, India, Netherlands, and Czech Republic etc. But the education they had obtained was not in the integrated form and it was not utilized so much in the Nepali soil. There were variations to accredit for the promotions on the higher posts, enunciated by the Tribhuvan University. Some of the Surveyors had the basic intermediate qualifications in two or more disciplines and they wanted to have graduation standards for the career promotion. In some cases, it was not materialized and they were rather frustrated. 
  2. However, it was made accountable to the concerning officers in relation to their basic and higher education and training. For example, base mapping work was assigned to those who had knowledge on photogrammetry and remote sensing.
  3. National Geographic Integrated Infrastructure Programme was given to those who had skill on information technology. 
  4. The work of head of the Survey Department was a little bit difficult to make understandable to the Secretary and Hon’ble Minister of the Ministry of Land Reform.

Wanted to carry further but couldn’t make it happened

  1. Whatever and however there should have been the development of technological improvement, it was not enough. It may be due to the mixed feeling of the manpower.
  2. It was not so much done on the aspect of the data security due to the lack of government national policy at large.
  3. I wanted to update various types of land utilization maps and data prepared during 1980s by Land Resources Mapping Project, assisted by Canadian International Development Agency. But these were not materialized due to its analog form. 
  4. Regarding the Cadastre, my intention was to adopt the fixed boundary principle with legal adjudication. But it was not possible without amending existing Land (Survey & Measurement) Act and Regulation. It was up to the matter of the Council of Ministers. I tried to push forward from the department, but it was not enough without the spirit of the honourable Minister.   

6.3 Third Generation (1990 to 2005): Photogrammetry to Lidar Survey

The moderator asked to Mr. Ganesh Prasad Bhatta on both the sessions: You are the person with hope; you are in the driving (hot) seat; where are you taking this profession? What do you think about the current status of the profession? What did you get from your earlier generation and what do you want to hand over to coming generation?

In response to moderator’s query, Mr. Bhatta mentioned as followings:

Taking this profession forward

  • The initial work started by the former generation will be carried out in continuation, but in a developed form with modern technology.
  • I am concentrated to raise the standard of the surveying, mapping and geospatial science profession of our country in a higher degree by adopting latest innovative techniques.

Got from earlier generation

  • I must appreciate previous generations that they endeavored to carry on surveying activities whatever it was prevalent and feasible at that time.
  • That was the basis to come into up to this generation.
  • They have established the technical foundation whatever it was available during that era.
  • We have to march forward on the background of the lessons, the previous generations had experienced.

     Current status of the profession

  1. The data established by the previous generation are not in digital form, so that it is difficult to update. The then technology has changed in the current status.
  2. It needs skilled manpower for the adoption of modern technology.
  3. In Nepal, angle of vision to look at the Surveyors by the general people is somehow negative in some extent.  It is imperative to improve, especially in the field of cadastral work, which is concerned with the civic society.
  4. This is a kind of challenge, how could we transform it into positive aspect.
  5. Recently, Nepal has been divided into 7 Provincial States with 753 local bodies, as per the new constitution of Nepal-2015.
  6. This is a kind of challenge, how could we provide 753 Geomatics Survey Engineers in each local body. We don’t have sufficient manpower to deploy up to the grass root tier of local government.
  7. To fulfil this necessity, it needs to produce skilled manpower, as the skilled manpower cannot be produced overnight. It should be invited to young generation to join this profession.
  8. The other challenge is the collaboration of government and private sector in the field of mapping. All the activities could not be done by the government sector. So private sector must be encouraged as the subordinate of government sector.
  9. Survey Department is going to measure the height of Mount Everest (Sagarmatha), the national heritage of Nepal.
  10. We shall use the modern equipment GNNS and GPR which will be operated by the Surveyors on the top of Everest to obtain satellite data. Data processing will be done by the qualified Survey professionals adopting the most recent technology, involving at least representatives from Survey of India and Chinese Bureau of Surveying & Mapping, so that our measurement will be recognized by the researchers and scientists of the world.

Hand over to coming generation

  1. Practical programmes have been formulated, as the Lidar Survey has been started for the future generation.
  2. Progress is going on for the instalment of new working software.
  3. Consolidation of geodetic control points have been started after the 2015 earthquake.
  4. Environment of transformation of newly developed technology in some parts of the world has been followed by our organization.
  5. Useful works, for example, the updating of topographic mapping have been advanced for the future generation.
  6. Need of the nation in the sector of spatial science has been identified to make the work of the future generation smooth.

6.4 Fourth Generation (2005 to 2019): Lidar Survey to Drone Survey On both the sessions, Moderator gave clues to Ms. Bhuvan Ranjit: You are the future of this profession; when you enter in this profession, what were your expectations and wishes? Did you find the profession same as you dreamt about? What do you now expect from the current leaders? And what will be the things that you wish to change when you will be in leadership?

Ms. Bhuvan Ranjit was quick to highlight on the clue given by the moderator on:

My expectations and wishes

  1. Yes, I am the future of this profession. I know the dream of the future generation and what should we do for the betterment of this profession and our nation as well.
  2. I wish I could be the bridge between previous generation and forthcoming generation on surveying and spatial science.  
  3. We have to prepare qualified Young Surveyors who could play an important role to show their technical skill for the development of professionalism in Nepal.
  4. There must have effective research and development (R & D) unit in the department to find out the feasible modern technology and working procedure suitable to our nation.

Expect from the current leaders

  • I hope environment of extension of Lidar activities will be created by the current leadership of the department of Survey.
  • I expect Satellite Receiving Ground Station will be established in our country soon, so that my generation could use and handle the data received by our own for the professional development.
  • Leadership should be shifted to the new generation who have sufficient academic knowledge of new technique, technology and field experience.

I wish to change when I will be in leadership

  1. I shall try to maintain democratization of national mapping organization. In my opinion new thinking should be channelized with an appropriate sense.  
  2. This will be our main responsibility that professional challenge must be faced by our generation.
  3. Spatial data must be fully prepared by the 4th generation and we will develop software, suitable as per the need of our organization. This will surely be an innovative work.
  4. There should not have financial constraint, as it needs for the development of professionalism.
  5. Youth will be employed as an open source to make the software ourselves.
  6. The most important thing that we must go to digital system in full swing.
  7. We have to make capable to our professionals to fly the Drone and get photographs and data to update the basic topographic maps and spatial data, as the equipment Drone has been used in Nepal by international agencies to find out the damage caused by 2015 earthquake. It needs further academic education and technical training to catch the ‘Drone Survey.’

6.5 Fifth Generation (From 2020 onward): Drone Survey to Mini-Satellite

Moderator Mr. Joshi produced a substantive matter on both the sessions to Mr. Uttam Pudasaini: You chose a different way or better to say you paved your own way. What was the thing that motivated you to initiate your own entrepreneurship? How do you see the challenges and opportunities in the private sector in this profession? What do you expect from government that would support the development of private sector in this profession? What do you suggest for an enhanced cooperation between public, private and academic sector?

Mr. Uttam Pudasaini, who has not yet started his career in the Government sector expressed his feeling and experiences gained in the private sector on the following sub-heading:

Motivation to initiate my own entrepreneurship

  • I am inspired to walk with my feet in this profession, as I visualized the importance of surveying and mapping that was most needed for the planning of various economic projects in our country.
  • It was heard the name of foreign Universities, but the name of our native Universities were on shade. I obtained the basic academic qualification from our non-government University. So I thought why not to start my professional work in non-government sector with my own entrepreneurship.

Challenges and opportunities in the private sector in this profession

  1. In the beginning, it was very hard to obtain the work, as a private professional.
  2. In the meantime I started online GIS.
  3. There were many challenges for the technical development, as this work would have not been done by private sector previously. I started and moved on slowly but tirelessly. I produced my digital work and floated on web surfer.  And it was believed by the clients that private sector also can perform the job as per standard.
  4. I dare to say that database creation is purely a technical job. It needs skillful knowledge and dedication.
  5. Nepal is entering into digital age. We have to follow modern technology in the field of surveying and spatial science, utilizing best practices.

Expectation from government to support private sector

  1. The government must let the new generation to make scientific experimentation on our profession.
  2. Government must realize that private sector could generate data more accurate than the government agencies in some particular field.
  3. Public and private sector Survey professionals must march forward hand to hand for the overall development of Nepal.
  4. Congenial rules and regulations should be formulated to groom the private sector Surveyors.

Suggestions for cooperation between public, private and academic sector

  1. To promote private sector, the government must provide license to the capable personnel and professional organizations, defining the working procedure and the national norms, standards and specifications set by the central agency of the government.
  2. Government must stop to those capable personnel to flee foreign countries, who are dedicated to work within the territory of Nepal.
  3. Role of technical leadership must be taken and maintained by the government Survey Department.
  4. Database should be established by public-private modality.
  5. There should have data sharing system with a reasonable modality.
  6. Government sector must provide encouragement to expand and maintain professional status of the private sector professionals.
  7. Nepal has launched recently its own Mini-Satellite ‘NEPALISAT-1’ with the help of America (Virginia) on the orbit, constructed by the Nepalese working in Japanese academic field.
  8. The photographs and data received from NepaliSat-1 should be used also by the private sector professionals, paying reasonable and moderate fee.

After the completion of second round of the panel discussions, there were queries, questions, suggestions and highlights from the audiences to the selected panelists. The panelists had answered the queries raised from the floor, remaining at proximity and vicinity of their presentations. Priority had been given to the queries of young surveyors and professionals.

At last, moderator Mr. Joshi spoke, in short, on the usefulness of the panel discussion. He expressed his opinion that such interactions will be very useful, fruitful and meaningful for the development of professionals. It has been a historic lessons, especially for the new generation. At the end Mr. Joshi thanked all the panelists and audiences for their co-operation that made easy to conduct the session, so that the whole period of panel discussions went smooth.

7. Closing Program

After the panel discussion session, closing program was conducted. The programme was chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Land Management Mr. Gopi Nath Mainali. He congratulated the NICS, its collaborators and supporting organizations to celebrate the global Surveyors Day also in Nepal, with a lively panel discussion. He narrated that the new generation must be capable not only to carry on the activities performed by the bygone generation, but also expand their thinking with high performances. New generation always must talk in positive sense and expand their capabilities without individualism. They should love and honour their organizations and institutions. They should not have their mentality to gain a lot of facilities within a short span of time. They must have patience that the time surely will come for them as well. The argument of the young surveyors should be based on logic, skill, facts and figures. Professionals must respect each other in all spheres.

In the concluding item, Survey Department Director General Mr. Ganesh Prasad Bhatta and President of Nepal Remote Sensing & Photogrammetric Society Mr. Rabin Kaji Sharma expressed happiness that Second Global Surveyors Day in Nepal is observed most successfully.  The panel discussion was most interesting, as it was educative and informative for all the Survey professionals. The new generation must go forward adopting the technique and technology as emerged in the global aspect, enunciated by the FIG.

At the end of the closing program, Token of Appreciation was presented to the panelists and guests of honour by Surveyor/Er Sharad Chandra Mainali, on behalf of the organizing committee. Nepalese style delicious dinner was served to all the participants, panelists and guests to enhance the fellowship among Survey professionals.

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