The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has established 473 village resource centres (VRCs) on a pilot scale, in association with selected NGOs, trusts and state government departments to demonstrate the potential of satellite technology for development of rural areas.
VRCs provide various space technology-enabled services such as tele-healthcare, tele-education, natural resources information, advisories related to agriculture, career guidance to rural students, skill development and vocational training, etc.
Isro has invested about Rs18 crore for establishing 473 village resource centres so far, union minister of state (independent charge) of the ministry of development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), amd minister of state in PMO, personnel, public grievances, pensions and atomic energy Jitendra Singh stated in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
The minister said the country's space programmes play a key role in enabling social upgradation of rural areas through space-based inputs towards development of wastelands, identification of degraded lands for suitable reclamation measures, assessment of fodder crops for dairy industry, monitoring developmental activities under rural employment guarantee scheme and integrated watershed development programme, space based inputs for ground water, targeting surface waterbodies for tribal districts and monitoring irrigation infrastructure.
Isro technology has been used in mapping of wastelands for enabling prioritisation of watersheds, identification of areas for renewable energy projects and industrial corridor development. Mapping of land degradation help in prioritisation of development in the rural areas.
Isro has prepared and deployed national level groundwater prospects maps, including locations for planning recharge structures, as a support for drinking water requirements for the ministry of drinking water and sanitation.
Isro also undertakes geospatially enabled monitoring of developmental activities under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), for the ministry of rural development.
Isro has generated sustainable land and water resources development plans in 180 districts for soil and water conservation and satellite data based monitoring and evaluation of about 86,000 microwatersheds, under Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) for the ministry of rural development.
Besides, it has carried out mapping and monitoring of village water bodies for suitability to adopt aquaculture development in the tribal districts as a possible alternative livelihood support.
It has also carried out an assessment of fodder crops in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana for enabling sustainability of dairy industry, relevant in rural and backward areas, the minister pointed out.