Indian RS department gets flak for providing poor quality data

Indian RS department gets flak for providing poor quality data

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India: Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), India, has come down heavily on the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) for providing bleak and untimely data for the government’s vital social schemes such as water missions, national disaster management and food security.

The NRSC provides space data vital to the planning and execution of important development goals managed through National Natural Resources Management Systems. Geomatics technologies like GPS and GIS are too sourced from the satellites.

The NRSC acquires remote sensing data from seven Indian remote sensing satellites and a few foreign ones. But, the audit revealed that three of the seven satellites were performing below par and had outlived their life span (which is 3 to 5 yrs) by many notches.

For example, IRS-P3 launched in March 1996, IRS-1C launched in December 1995 and IRS-PS launched in August 2010 have been able to utilise only 32, 45 and 50 per cent of their maximum capacity.

The thematic data requirement is necessary to mount payloads on the satellites to give information that will be of use. Large volumes of data – between 53 to 93 per cent – were believed to have been wasted forcing the PAC to critically conclude that data requirement was not based on any scientific study.

Low quality and redundant data picked up by these satellites has also had a castigating impact on the revenue generation, though the department of space said that these attempts were only for public purposes and profit was not a consideration.

The total investment on seven satellites was INR 1,468 crore. However, the operational returns or income generated, including through the sale of data ranged from INR 96 crore to INR 134 crore over five years beginning 2003, sources said. The money earned was not even enough to take care of annual expenditure. The international market rate of high resolution satellite data was about six times more than the price of comparable data churned out by Indian remote satellites.

Interestingly, 12 remote sensing aircraft in possession of the DoS have not been utilised to full capacity on various grounds such as lack of pilots and ageing fleet. The committee has recommended the data downloaded and processed should be ready for consumer use at a time gap of one hour to 24 hours, depending on the utility.

Source: Deccan Herald