Dept of Space incurred loss in sale of remote sensing images: CAG

 It alleges that the Department launched satellites without even assessing the potential market place for the pictures they would produce.

Operational returns from seven remote sensing satellites put into orbit were showing negative and the income from sale of data is insufficient to cover the operational expenses of the satellites between 2003-08, the CAG said in its latest report tabled in the Parliament last week.

Also one of the key remote-sensing satellites - Oceansat-1 P4 - malfunctioned within two years of its launch due to a technical snag in the on-board power-system, compelling the Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre to operate it at 50 per cent of its capacity.

The Seven satellites involved in the auditing are IRS-1C, IRS-P3, IRS-1D, Oceansat-1 P4, Resourcesat-1, P6, Cartosat-1 P5 and Cartosat-2 P7. The spatial resolution of satellite images increased from 5.8 mt in IRC-1C to 0.8 mt in Cartosat-2.

Three out of seven - IRS-P3, 1C and P4 - could exploit only 32, 45 and 50 per cent of their maximum capacity due to technical problems, the CAG notes. In two others - P6 and P7, the capacity utilisation was only 56 and 55 per cent leaving only Cartosat-1 and IRS-1D as the two better performing ones.

The space agency said P3 was an experimental satellite, which stopped functioning in 2003. Oceansat-1 P4 malfunctioned within two years of its launch due to "on-board spacecraft power constraints" compelling the NRSC to operate the satellite with only 50 per cent of its capacity from the end of 2001.

Besides the financial losses, NRSC had no clue about the user's requirement in areas like urban planning, drought management, underground water resource mapping, mineral prospecting and environmental impact assessment where satellite images are used.

The NRSC refused to furnish information on the designed capacity of each of the satellites to the CAG. It also did not have any information on the sector-wise application of remote sensing data. As a result CAG could neither assess the extent of data gap in the remote-sensing imagery market nor evaluate the performance of the satellites as against its designed parameters.

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