ISRO fails to provide satellite connectivity, returns funds to varsities

An ambitious Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-based extension project — undertaken by the University of Agricultural Sciences’ (Bangalore and Dharwad) for disseminating information related to technology, weather forecast, pest and diseases and market intelligence to farmers — through the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellite has not taken off.

ISRO and UAS of Bangalore and Dharwad had jointly undertaken the Village Resource Network project for providing information to farmers using ICT tools. The two farm universities deposited Rs. 7.32 crore with ISRO for providing satellite connectivity to selected 124 raitha sampark kendras (RSKs) and 12 krishi vijnana kendras (KVKs). While 58 RSKs were chosen by UAS, Bangalore, the UAS, Dharwad had selected 66.

The project has been called off after several rounds of meetings and discussions over the last three to four years between officials of ISRO and two universities over its implementation.

The project was chalked up to help the farming community improve their livelihood and provide opportunities for farmers to directly interact with experts and scientists from the RSKs, termed as “knowledge centres”, without incurring any additional costs or visiting department officers for their technical guidance.

Varsity plan

The two farm universities had prepared a plan to connect all 745 RSKs and KVKs in the State using terrestrial links such as Karnataka State Wide Area Network (KSWAN), which is implemented by the State, for e-governance services.

“The UAS, Bangalore and Dharwad felt that connecting 124 RSKs and 12 KVKs through satellite and the rest through terrestrial links might not be appropriate and hence sought return of the deposit of Rs. 7.32 crore, which was given to ISRO,” official sources in ISRO told The Hindu. Accordingly, ISRO has returned the project fund to both universities.

The project was launched in 2007 on an experimental basis and ISRO provided satellite connectivity to KVKs under Edusat for the first two to three years. But the project stopped operating for the last three years due to non-availability of satellite connectivity, UAS, Bangalore Vice-Chancellor K. Narayana Gowda said.