New Delh: The latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has indicted the Department of Space and ISRO for failure to operationalise NavIC that was to be operational by December 2011 but had not been made operational even at the end of June 2017 and as a result, navigation and timing services envisaged under the programme could not be provided to the users.
Inquiry by Newsroom24x7 has further established that even till date, ISRO is lagging far behind in making NavIC fully operational. The conclusion drawn by CAG validates investigative reports focusing on the same subject by Newsroom24x7 (check: Desi GPS: Space Application Centre lacks priority at great cost to the nation; Department of Space and ISRO: PMO has to bell the cat)
The 2018 CAG report on Department of Space (Report No. 2 of 2018) that has now been presented in Parliament goes on to underscore “Though the space segment has been completed, NavIC remained non-operational due to non-completion of Ground segment and User segment. There were delays in realisation of key components under the programme which led to idling of the satellites. As the life of a navigational satellite is 10 to 12 years and the satellites already launched under the programme remained idle for 14 months to four years, delay in realisation of the NavIC programme would limit the duration of their utility once the programme became operational. In addition, ground segment infrastructure created for the NavIC satellites also remained unutilised.
NavIC was approved by the Government of India in May 2006 at a cost of Rs. 1,420 crore to establish an independent and indigenous satellite based navigation system over the Indian landmass and surrounding region. An expenditure of Rs. 1,283.93 crore had been incurred on the programme so far. However, the system has yet to be operationalised due to delays in execution of contracts, deficient monitoring of programme and inadequate follow up. In addition, Rs. 3.57 crore were spent on unnecessary procurement of modems.CAG Report No 2 of 2018 Chapter VII Department of Space
CAG has concluded “NavIC that was to be operational by December 2011 was not made operational even at the end of June 2017 due to which position, navigation and timing services envisaged under the programme could not be provided to the users. Though the space segment has been completed, NavIC remained non-operational due to noncompletion of Ground segment and User segment.
Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an initiative of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space (DOS), to build an independent satellite navigation system to provide Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services over a Primary Service Area (PSA) comprising of India and its surrounding region extending up to 1,500 km.
NavIC consists of a space segment, ground segment and user segment. The space segment comprises of a constellation of seven satellites (IRNSS-1A, IRNSS-1B, IRNSS1C, IRNSS-1D, IRNSS-1E, IRNSS-1F and IRNSS-1G) which were launched between July 2013 and April 2016. The ground segment is responsible for maintenance and operation of the NavIC constellation. The user segment comprises frequency user receivers capable of receiving NAVIC signals.
Government of India accorded (May 2006) financial sanction of Rs. 1,420 crore for NavIC. As of March 2017, expenditure of Rs. 1,283.93 crore had been incurred under the programme. In addition, expenditure of Rs. 1,162.21 crore was incurred on launch vehicles and maintenance of the satellites and the ground segment.
Non-operationalisation of NavIC programme
The development and deployment of NavIC constellation, ground infrastructure, navigation, safety and certification, verification software was expected to be completed within five to six years from the date of approval of the project i.e. by December 2011. However, the NavIC programme was not operational as of June 2017 due to delays in realisation of various segments.
Delay in realisation of user devices development programme
ISRO identified (October 2004/ April 2006) development of user receivers as a critical technology component of the programme. The Cabinet sanctioned Rs. 200 crore for the development of critical technologies including user receivers.
Department of Space told CAG (September 2016) that development of the user segment was the responsibility of the user. The reply is not tenable as ISRO was required to develop critical technologies for the user receiver devices as approved by the Cabinet. The reply also contradicts the fact that the ISRO has eventually taken up the user development programme in March 2017.
Non-completion of performance evaluation
As per the approval of the Cabinet, certification of NavIC was required to be done in order to provide seamless continuous PNT service to users. At its meeting held on 11 August 2009, the Project Management Board recorded that the characteristics of the user receivers have to be sent to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as per the regulations. The Project Management Council, in its meeting held in April 2016, stated that performance evaluation of IRNSS in the PSA was required to be evaluated in the Indian land mass and in places outside India within the PSA before
NavIC could be declared as operational. Audit noticed that certification and validation of the NavIC programme including performance evaluation was not done as of September 2016. ISRO stated (September 2016) that evaluation and validation of NavIC was in progress.