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State lags in Edusat plan

- Only 8 of 52 terminals in place

Ranchi, Dec. 15: The state government is lagging behind in an ambitious plan to ensure satellite-based education in remote areas that has the potential of effecting a communication revolution in Jharkhand.

For, out of 52 Edusat (education satellite) terminals targeted across the state at the end of 2012-13, only eight has been installed so far.

Jharkhand Space Application Centre (JSAC), which initiated the project along with Indian Space Research Organisation in the state, recently issued work orders for setting up six more terminals that will provide distance learning opportunities for lakhs of school students and college-goers under modules prepared by the state and Centre. Under the project, the state also aims to train teachers and boost polytechnic studies.

However, S. Lakshminarayanan, the adviser to implementing agency Hughes Communication India Limited, wrote to chief minister Arjun Munda on December 5 saying that the project was yet to take off due to bureaucratic delay.

He sought Munda’s intervention in the project, claiming the existing network also had to be re-activated, besides installing new Edusat terminals at ITIs and BEd colleges.

JSAC director Sarvesh Singhal told The Telegraph they had issued work orders to set up six tele-education centres on the campuses of polytechnics in Ranchi, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Latehar, Koderma and East Singhbhum.

The eight existing Edusat terminals were installed in Ranchi, West Singhbhum, Dumka, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad, East Singhbhum, Deoghar and Gumla at the offices of the district programme officers or co-ordinators.

In the first phase after its launch last year, the state had aimed to set up 10 Edusat centres, followed by 42 more this financial year.

Edusat, which was launched in 2004, is the first Indian satellite exclusively meant for the educational sector. It aims to meet the demands for an interactive satellite-based distance education system across the country.

The state cabinet had cleared the establishment and reactivation of Edusat terminals at a cost of Rs 1.34 crore. But several reminders by JSAC to state human resources department officials, mainly principal secretary B.K. Tripathy, have apparently not served well.

The HRD is expected to provide the list of educational institutions where Edusat terminals will be set up. Recently, JSAC received a list of addresses from the department for six terminals and followed it up by issuing work orders. However, HRD officials are yet to identify 36 places and provide a list of addresses to JSAC for setting up the units.

“Altogether 18 components are have to be installed in each proposed Edusat terminal, including receivers, battery, camera and speaker. But we are yet to get a list (of addresses) from the state HRD department,” complained Singhal, a 1987-batch Indian Forest Service official who joined the JSAC as director a couple of months ago.