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GSAT-6 largely unutilised as ground segment not ready: CAG

NEW DELHI: India’s GSAT-6 satellite, launched in August 2015, has largely remained unutilised as the ground segment required for processing its data was not ready, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found.

According to the Compliance Audit on Scientific and Environmental Ministries/Departments of Union Government by the CAG, the Department of Space (DOS) launched the GSAT-6 at a cost of Rs 508 crore but was unable to utilise the satellite as envisaged due to non-readiness of its ground segment.

“This resulted in non-utilisation of the satellite for nearly half of its life,” the central auditor said in the report that was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

“We have to go through the report properly and analyse the points raised. Anyhow, the department will take necessary action as suggested in the report,” N Sudheer Kumar, Director, ISRO’s Capacity Building Programme Office told PTI.

The GSAT-6 satellite, aimed at providing Satellite Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (S-DMB) services for mobile communication applications, was originally planned in agreement with Devas Multimedia Private Limited.

However, after the termination of the agreement with Devas, the satellite was planned to be operated in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), who was to build the ground segment.

“Audit observed that DOS did not enter into any memorandum of understanding (MoU)/agreement with DRDO for the development of the ground segment. It also failed to devise a target-based action plan, in consultation with DRDO,” the report said.

It added that as a result, DRDO was not able to complete the activities of the ground segment before the launch of the satellite in August 2015.

The DRDO had entrusted the project to build the dedicated hub for providing services of the satellites to the three Services, civil society agencies and strategic users, the report said.

“This project was to be completed by January 2015 but was, however, delayed by more than five years and completed only in July 2020. Reasons for the delayed completion of these two projects were, however, not furnished,” the report said.

It said the DOS was not aware about the present status of Phase II or the operational phase which involved the induction of GSAT-6 into the network centric operations of the three Services, civil society agencies and strategic users.

“Therefore, objective of GSAT-6 satellite which was launched in August 2015 after incurring an expenditure of Rs 508 crore was not fulfilled due to non-completion of the activities to be carried out under ground segment as the satellite has remained unutilised since its launch,” the report said.

The report said the DOS conveyed to the auditor in November 2021 that the department has optimally used 20 per cent of the capacity in its societal applications and research projects.

It said that the DOS admitted in March last year that the present status of the operationalisation and utilisation of the ground station was not available with the Department.

“Thus, DOS was not aware of the utilisation of the balance 80 per cent capacity of the satellite,” the report said. (PTI)

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