Delays in NAVIC, India’s ambitious indigenous GPS programme, has drawn the ire of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) which has pointed at ‘laxity’ on part of the premier space agency as the reason behind it. Highlighting that the system is yet to be operationalised despite an expenditure of over Rs 1,283 crore already incurred on the programme, the CAG report on the Department of Space outlines that a delay in getting the desi GPS system operational would limit the life of the system’s utility.
Responding to the observations of the CAG report, ISRO chairman K Sivan told TOI that the NAVIC is “very much operational” and that ISRO has developed the space infrastructure for the navigation system, and now it’s for the industry to mass-produce chipsets to be used in navigation devices. He added that ISRO is working on miniaturisation of the chipset to be used in very small navigation devices.
The CAG report states that the life of a navigational satellite is 10 to12 years and the satellites already launched under the programme have remained idle for over 14 months to four years. A further delay in the system getting operational would mean even lesser life of the satellites.
In what came as stinging criticism for ISRO, the CAG report states that a substantial part of the delays was attributable to ‘inadequate follow-up, lack of coordination with government and other agencies as well as sheer administrative laxity’ by the ISRO. Non-execution of contracts, deficient monitoring of programme, revision in technical specifications and inadequate follow up were the other reasons mentioned in the report behind the delay of the programme. The audit by the CAG observed that review committees constituted by DOS did not perform the tasks envisaged to them.
As per the report, NAVIC was approved by the Government of India in May 2006 at a cost of Rs 1,420 crore. Notably, the deadline fixed for the programme to be operational, as per the report, was December 2011. However, the report says that the programme could not be provided to the users even at the end of June 2017.