Was Odia space scientist shunted to deny him top ISRO post?

Bhubaneswar: A day after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) transferred Tapan Misra, the director of Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre (SAC), to the organisation’s headquarters in Bengaluru; speculations are doing rounds in national media about a conspiracy to prevent the scientist from becoming the next ISRO chairman.

A directive issued by ISRO chairman K Sivan on Thursday said, “He (Misra) is relieved of all other responsibilities from the afternoon of July 19. He has been moved to the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru with immediate effect.”

With the development coming into effect, Misra will be acting as the senior advisor to the ISRO chairman K Sivan, while Dipak Kumar Das, an associate Director will take his place as the head of the Space Application Centre.

Misra renowned for his contribution to indigenous development of spying satellites for the space organisation, was at the helm of the SAC for last 34 years but his sudden transfer to the ISRO headquarters has raised a few questions, especially juts two days after the organisation signed an agreement with two private companies for making 27 satellites – a move which the scientist (Misra) had been protesting.

Sources said that the scientist had differences with the ISRO Chairman, K Sivan over the move to privatise the organisation’s operations.

A national level media quoted the scientist as saying that he had worked with ISRO for 34 years and so it is bigger for him than anybody.

“For me, ISRO is bigger than anybody. What I am today is because of ISRO. I will not compromise with the image of the organisation at any cost,” TOI had quoted him saying.

It is to be noted that out of all the Directors of the Space Application Centres (4 of them currently); one gets promoted to head the ISRO. So talks are doing rounds that it was a conspiracy to keep Misra, who was heading Ahmedabad based SAC, out of the race for ISRO’s top most post.

Though ISRO has clarified that the decision was aimed at putting the services of Misra in use beyond the space application centre in Ahmedabad, the scientist himself has refused to comment anything on the matter.

Misra, a native of Rayagada in Odisha, graduated in electronics and telecommunication engineering from Jadavpur University, Calcutta in 1984 before joining the SAC.

During his 34 years in SAC, Misra had played a significant role in development of remote sensing payload and antennae technologies currently used in several ISRO satellites.

This apart, he also played a major role in designing satellite based systems used for early warning at unmanned Railway crossings, an US-India satellite project for early mapping of land before landslides, development of country’s own navigation system, several surveillance systems  like RISAT and Cartosat used by the military.