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India - Isro data from remote sensing satellites helped raise crop output

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro)’s technology is no longer mainly about launching satellites. The space agency has been constantly enlarging its role in development activities, contributing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mission of “Transforming India”, said Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Development of Atomic Energy and Space, Jitendra Singh.

He said today Isro technology is being used to carry out production forecasts for at least eight major crops such as wheat, Kharif and rabi rice, mustard, jute, cotton, sugarcane, rabi sorghum and rabi pulses.

Speaking about the comparative improvement in the crop condition and increased productivity in the agriculture sector in July 2019 vis-a-vis July 2020, Singh said due to the extensive use of data from remote sensing satellites, the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is a proven indicator for vegetable/crop health or vigour, clearly shows better crop conditions during this July.

In the Railway sector, applications of space technology were recently realised in guarding unmanned Railway crossings and detecting obstructive objects on the tracks to avoid train accidents.

He said satellite imaging is now being used for supervising Indian borders and to check foreign infiltration.

“Isro and the Department of Space have already overtaken the space missions of several other countries and the images procured by the likes of Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) are now being used even by the premier space centres for infrastructural development and public welfare projects. India has also taken a lead in the application of space technology and its example is now being followed by other countries,” said the Union Minister.

Singh said four years back, on the intervention of the Prime Minister, an extensive brain-storming exercise was held in the union capital wherein representatives from different ministries and departments were engaged in an intense interaction with Isro scientists and the Department of Space. The objective was to work out how best space technology could be used as a modern tool for supplementing, improving and expediting infrastructural development, and for the implementation of various welfare schemes.

Following this, space technology is now being used in diverse sectors such as agriculture, railways, roads and bridges, medical management/telemedicine, procurement of timely Utilisation Certificates, disaster forecast and management, weather/rain/flood forecast, the Minister said.

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