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Saturday, November 11, 2006

What google earth can do for illegal land development

Ubiquitous access to Google Earth has many interesting implications for the land market.

I have seen many signs where obscure little real estate brokers, by the road side, offer to show you properties through Google Earth.

Nancy Sajben sent me a pointer to a blog entry talking about how land acquisition for an SEZ was influenced by Google Earth: farmers were able to argue their position more clearly by utilising this information.

In cities like Bombay and Delhi, I sometimes think the resolution of Google Earth pictures are so high that one can even identify illegal construction where a house spills into the road. The puzzle is: who will do this?

I have long been highly conscious about illegal land development on the boundaries of national parks by developers who chip away, one acre at a time. I don't know the legal foundations surrounding Borivli National Park, but the amount of construction taking place at the edges of the park seems very, very suspicious to me. And this is Bombay - anywhere outside Bombay I'm sure the dangers of encroachment are much worse.

It would be wonderful if an environmental activist group would engage in the following steps:

  1. Utilise the public records to make a .kmz file of the boundary of all the national parks in India,
  2. Setup software which watches google earth, and throws up an alert when it looks like there is some habitation in what ought to be park land.
Update: I just noticed some work in South America which sounds like this.


  1. I completely agree with this view ..
    Google earth can DEFINITELY used to monitor this..In fact you can clearly see the images of the park and developers a Huge Square of clearing on South-west side of the park..
    I think, one of the ways of obtaining this information about the boundries of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) is using Right to Information Act..
    We can use the act to get the info about actual/proposed reserved forest MAP (LAYOUT)..and just compare that with Google earth..
    I would let you know if any NGO who can be of help us in this case

  2. This technology is not being used in proper way if it is used in proper way then Google Earth pictures are so high that one can even identify illegal construction where a house spills into the road.


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