Only Sri Lanka signs up for India’s Saarc satellite plan

SateliteMore than a year after PM Narendra Modi first mooted the idea during the 18th Saarc summit held in Nepal in 2014, only Sri Lanka has formally agreed to join the Saarc satellite project. An Isro official told TOI on Thursday that the remaining six members, including Pakistan, have so far only given their approval in principle.

The official said that the apprehension of those who have not formally joined the project is that the mission will give India an upper hand among the Saarc members both politically and scientifically. Pakistan fears that the Saarc satellite will provide India an access to sensitive Pakistani data.

Provisionally, the semi-political Indian space mission is slated for lift off towards the end of 2016 or early 2017. The official said that even if the rest do not join, the satellite will still be launched, but it will have limited scope. Work on the satellite has already been initiated.

The Rs 235-crore project will provide a range of applications and services to Saarc members in the areas of telecommunication, broadcasting, DTH, disaster management, tele-education and tele-medicine.

“We are hoping that the remaining six members will participate and the external affairs ministry is in touch with them,” he said. (TOI)

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