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Rs 280-crore plan afoot for island, border security using space tech

Having realised the advantages of space science, and based on recommendations of a special task force, the Centre has envisaged a multi-faceted project with special focus on island development and security for strategic purposes besides a host of other applications for national security.

The Centre had late last year set up a special task force to identify areas for use of space technology. It was headed by the joint secretary (border management), with members from the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and Border Guarding Forces (BGFs).

Among other things, the panel has recommended that Isro helps with enhancing border surveillance, border infrastructure monitoring, providing GIS and operation planning system and communication and navigation.

For this, the Centre, through the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has earmarked Rs 280 crore for the first phase. Isro Chairman Sivan K, however, said: “At this stage, I do not have the exact details about this project. There is a plan, but we are yet to learn in detail about it.”

The task force had consulted all stakeholders including BGFs, Isro, National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and the MoD before finalising the report.

“This project will strengthen island and border security by providing observation, communication, and navigation capability to border guarding and internal security forces in remote areas. It will also help MHA in planning and monitoring of the development of border and island infrastructure,” the panel feels.

Once implemented India will have a network infrastructure and be equipped with computing requirements for all the Central paramilitary forces. The MHA will be getting transponders for satellite communication and procurement of satellite data for immediate operational use of the forces.

“Besides, there will be exclusive satellites launched for the paramilitary forces, and Isro will also aid in capacity building,” a source said. Isro has already been working closely with the armed forces, providing exclusive satellites for both strategic planning and testing like in the case of the anti-satellite missile technology.

For instance, the armed forces used satellite data for the 2016 Surgical Strikes and also for the February 27 Balakot air strikes. This year, Isro will launch another bunch of defence satellites even as it has lined up several big-ticket projects, including India’s second mission to the Moon—Chandrayaan-2.

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