State Govt fails to take it over for want of few crores

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Sept 9: Notwithstanding its immense utility, the multi-crore infrastructure of the Indian Space Research Organization put in place for providing benefits of EDUSAT— a satellite devoted exclusively to long distance learning, has been lying idle during the past several months due to the failure of State Government to take it over for want of few crores of rupees.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) made the EDUSAT facility available in Jammu and Kashmir some years back by investing several crores of rupees in setting up of two hubs—one each in Jammu and Srinagar and Satellite Interactive Terminals in nearly 100 educational institutions particularly Colleges, Industrial Training Institutes and District Institutes of Education and Training.
Within short period of its launch, the students of the connected 100 educational institutions particularly of those in remote and far off areas started deriving immense benefit of the satellite based long distance learning as lectures as per the requirement of students of respective institutions were being delivered from the main hubs—Government College for Women, Gandhi Nagar in Jammu region and Government College for Women, M A Road, Srinagar, by using EDUSAT infrastructure. Moreover, recorded lectures were also being repeated depending upon the requirement of the students.
Right from the very beginning there was clear stand of the ISRO that following expiry of its contract with M/s Huges for maintenance of infrastructure set up in the State for providing facility of EDUSAT, the Jammu and Kashmir Government will have to take over the same and meet the expenses on maintenance from its own resources, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
However, when maintenance contract between ISRO and M/s Huges expired in March 2011 the State Government was not in a position to take over the infrastructure and on its request the contract was extended up to March 2012, sources said, adding “in March this year the concerned authorities of the State were again caught napping on the matter and in the absence of any maintenance contract, the multi-crore infrastructure set up by ISRO is lying idle since April this year and not providing any sort of benefit to students of around 100 educational institutions”.
“Though in the recent past the Higher Education Department selected M/s Huges to look after the maintenance part after proper tendering process yet the same exercise has not reached the logical conclusion because of the financial implications of not more than few crores of rupees”, sources said, adding “in the meeting of State Government, ISRO and M/s Huges officers held on August 9, the M/s Huges was requested to climb down on the annual maintenance charges so that contract is signed and EDUSAT facility is restored at the earliest”.
When contacted, Director Colleges Nalini Kohli confirmed that EDUSAT facility was non-functional since April this year, adding “we are waiting for the response of M/s Huges on our request made on August 9 and thereafter we will finalize the contract and make the facility available once again”.
“No doubt, J&K Government will have the responsibility of maintenance of infrastructure yet the ISRO will continue to provide technical support and the Organization is planning to open office in Chandigarh to look after the Northern States”, she said in response to a question.
Sources said that it was due to non-cooperation from the State Government that the ISRO’s plan to extend EDUSAT facility to large number of schools could not materialize till now.

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