ISRO to assist development projects in NE through space technology

Indian space agency ISRO will assist development projects in the northeast through space technology, offering optimum utilisation of satellite imaging and other technology applications for better accomplishment of infrastructural projects in the region, Union DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh announced on Wednesday.

This would be first of its kind initiative in the whole country where there will be an institutionalised involvement of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in mapping and sharing of data for developmental projects

The ISRO is already monitoring and geo-tagging 67 projects at 221 sites in all the eight northeastern states funded by the Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Ministry.

In the meeting, attended by senior officers of the Ministry and ISRO scientists, the Minister said that six out of the eight states of the northeast have already sent their specific proposals for execution by ISRO, while tSikkim and Assam will also send their proposals soon.

Noting that the project can become a model for other states too, Singh said in the last seven years, the ISRO is no longer confined mainly to launching of satellites, but has been constantly enlarging its role in development activities and contributing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mission of “Transforming India”.

The Northeastern Space Applications Centre (NESAC) at Shillong has received a number of proposals from northeastern states. It would be discussing the feasibility and desirability of all such projects, one by one with each of the states in the next fortnight. Once identified, all such projects are likely to be funded jointly by respective states and NESAC.

The Minister said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited Shillong and held a meeting with the NESAC society in January this year, where major projects to be taken up had been flagged.

“Some of the important projects on which work is under progress are like the mapping of forest gap areas, expansion of land area for horticulture development, identification and rejuvenation of wetlands and diversion of floodwater, assessment of bamboo resources for livelihood needs,” he said.

Singh said that the Home Minister is likely to visit the centre again in July to review the progress of the projects, adding that despite the crippling effects of the Covid-19, much headway was made in execution of these projects.

He said that in the northeastern region, space technology is now being used in diverse sectors including agriculture, railways, roads and bridges, medical management or telemedicine, procurement of timely utilisation Certificates, disaster forecast and management, weather or rain or flood forecast.

Senior officials from ISRO informed the Minister that seven projects from Arunachal Pradesh in areas like dam construction and flood mitigation, three model villages, horticulture and border fencing at zero level are nearing completion. Similar projects from other states are also on way to achieve their target.

The NESAC is an autonomous organisation under Department of Space and provides dedicated service to the northeastern region comprising of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura.

It was set up with a vision to play a catalytic role in holistic development of northeastern region by providing space science and technology support on natural resource management, infrastructure planning, healthcare, education, emergency communication, disaster management support, and space and atmospheric science research.