ISRO's EDUSAT not functioning for 2 years

Greater Kashmir

100 educational centres suffer as government fails to pay annual maintenance contract

Srinagar, July 1: Belying tall claims of utilizing Information Technology for imparting education, the State government has failed to pay maintenance charges for EDUSAT- a satellite installed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) devoted exclusively to long distance learning in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said that the failure of state government to pay maintenance charges has deprived thousands of students of learning through satellites in nearly 100 educational institutions across the State.
The equipment worth crores of rupees installed by the ISRO have been lying unused for the past more than two years as the Government is not ready to pay merely Rs 70 lakh for Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC).
Sources told Greater Kashmir that ISRO after making EDUSAT facility available in Jammu and Kashmir in 2008 had made it amply clear that after three years of its installation, the maintenance of infrastructure will have to be taken over by the State Government.
When ISRO’s contract with M/s Huges, a Bangalore-based IT firm for maintenance of infrastructure of EDUSAT expired in March 2011, the State Government expressed its reluctance to take over the infrastructure and subsequently ISRO extended its contract with M/s Huges by one year in order to provide sufficient time to the government to gear up for taking over the maintenance.
Official sources said that in April 2012 the EDUSAT facility was completely halted following expiry of maintenance contract to M/S Huges.
 “Since then, the state government didn’t come forward to ensure annual maintenance of the equipment in two hubs-one each in Government College for Women, Gandhi Nagar, Jammu and Government College for Women, M A Road, Srinagar, besides Satellite Interactive Terminals (SITs) in 100 institutions of higher education-41 in Jammu region and 59 in Kashmir valley,” sources said.
EDUSAT was considered to be the next big thing in education system. “As 100 centre’s technically Known as SITs  connected to two EDUSAT hubs in Jammu and Srinagar would relay telecast lectures of renowned Professors and Teachers on the request of  students residing in far- flung areas. Even SITs were established even in remotest areas such as Nubra Valley in Leh.” 
“Such lectures were even recorded so that on the request of the students could learn from experienced teachers. Moreover, a panel of subject lecturers and professors were framed at colleges having main hubs so that requirements of the connected colleges could be easily and timely met with”.
 “However, government’s indifference in allocating funds for the maintenances of these satellites have cost dearly to students mostly in far-flung areas where the students would have got benefited had the state government paid for the maintenance of these satellites,” sources said, adding that Government is not ready to pay Rs 70 lakh for the activity which otherwise is of immense benefit for thousands of students in nearly 100 institutions imparting higher education
“Ironically, the state government  in a power point presentation before the Planning Commission of India during the 2013-14 Annual Plan finalization, had boasted of increasing the outreach of higher education by establishing two EDUSAT hubs and providing connectivity to around 100 institutions”, they said adding however on ground the system is not functional.
When contacted, Director Higher Education, Prof Tariq Kawoosa said that EDUSAT would be soon made operational.
However, a senior official of Higher Education Department wishing anonymity said that department has invited tenders from interested parties for maintenance of EDUSAT and SITS across J&K.
“So far we have received two tenders and hopefully within few days the EDUSAT will be made functional and delivery of lectures to students in far- flung areas would be restarted.”