Nepal eager to exploit SAARC satellite to fullest


Nepal is keen to exploit the India-offered SAARC communication satellite mainly in areas of weather forecasting and disaster prediction. Other sectors that Nepal wants to use the satellite are in television broadcasting and distance learning, official said.

During the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that New Delhi would ‘gift’ a communication satellite to the region.

“We are keen to utilise the Indian space technology in all applicable sectors,” said Krishna Chandra Paudel, Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The proposed satellite enables full range of applications and services to all SAARC nations in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications such as television, direct-to-home (DTH), Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), tele-education and disaster prediction.

According to Anup Nepal, Under Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications , India has offered its satellite mainly in four sectors — television broadcasting, weather forecasting, disaster prediction and data analysis as well as distance learning.

“Once it is launched, Nepal’s communications and other services like Nepal Television, Meteorological Department and Department of Mines and Geology can use the satellite services free of cost,” added Nepal, who had attended a recent SAARC officials’ meeting in New Delhi about the project.

The SAARC satellite, expected to be launched by December 2016, is being developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation at an estimated cost of INR 235 crore. Speaking in the Indian Parliament last week, India’s Space Minister Jitendra Singh had said India alone would bear all costs associated with the launch of the satellite.

According to Secretary Paudel, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MoIC and MoST had recently met to discuss how the satellite could be best used. Concerned stakeholders are yet to reach a conclusion though, he said. Officials said the Indian side has not assured to provide the satellite services free of cost, but also have assured to provide critical support in building infrastructure such as receiving and uplink stations and other technical expertise.