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SAARC satellite: India, member countries hold talks

PTI 22 Jun 2015, 22:53:31 IST

New Delhi:  India today held deliberations with experts from other SAARC countries to finalise modalities for developing a satellite exclusively for the regional grouping, nearly a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an announcement about it.

Top officials from Ministry of External Affairs and Indian Space Research Organisations were part of deliberations with representatives of the SAARC countries including from Pakistan.

In June last year, Modi had asked ISRO to develop a SAARC satellite which can be dedicated as a "gift" to the neighbouring countries to help them in areas such as tele-medicine, weather forecasting and communication.  

Modi had made the announcement about India's decision to develop the satellite in SAARC summit in Kathmandu last November.

Ajay Gondane, Joint-Secretary (SAARC) in External Affairs Ministry, said all member countries participated in the deliberations which included an eight-member delegation from Pakistan.

"From Maldives, a minister attended the conference.  Experts from other SAARC countries were also present. There was 100 per cent participation," he said.  

Top ISRO officials called the meeting "fruitful".  

"It was quite a fruitful meeting and there was interaction on various aspects. We tried to convey to SAARC representatives about what we can offer. A lot of doubts were addressed.

"For example, Afghanistan said it has a satellite, but it is weak in some areas and how can the new satellite help in bolstering its system. Nepal's main focus was on disaster-management while Pakistan explained about the satellites they have launched until now," said an ISRO official.  

The official said the participants also decided to apply for ITU registration, an important step before launching a satellite.

The United Nations Outer Space Treaty's Article 6 includes a Registration Convention mandating that every nation putting something into space register it with the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs (OOSA).

"The ITU format will be sent to the member countries through our missions. The countries can respond if they have any query. The diagram for the satellite is more or less ready. If all goes well, the satellite could be launched by December 2016 on the SAARC charter day," said Gondane.