Shipping sector may get to deploy navigation system Gagan
“We have started deliberations with all stakeholders and the roadmap is being defined,” Director General of Shipping (DGS) Malini Shankar told PTI over the weekend.
She said after the launch of Gagan (GPS-aided geo augmented navigation) in July 2015, the government has been looking at various applications for the system and its introduction on the maritime front will be a part of the same.
However, it may not be a smooth sailing for the country to adopt Gagan which can serve as an alternative to the American or Russian systems being used at present, as a slew of clearances and heavy investments may be required.
Sources said at first, Gagan needs to get the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) nod to be used for movement of ships. Switching to the new system also involves costs, which have to be minimised, they added.
To begin with, the country may look at having Gagan for vessel traffic management system (VTMS) inside or in the close proximity of a port, the sources said, adding this can be done only after getting the IMO nod.
Asked about the time taken to get the IMO nod, they said other countries which have their own GPS navigation systems have taken up to two years to get the go-ahead.
Gagan has been developed jointly by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at an investment of Rs 774 crore. The aviation sector may be the first to start using the system for transportation needs commercially.
Sources in the maritime sector, however, pointed out that there is a difference between air navigation and the same for shipping, and separate set of permissions are required.
However, as the co-developer, AAI is helping in the adoption of the system across various applications, they said, adding even within shipping it will be looking at minimising the cost of the equipment needed.
“For a better adoption, we have to get the price of the gadgets right or ensure that the quality of the services is higher,” they said.
Gagan was launched with the objective of making airline operations more efficient and cut down costs as the system reduces separation between aircraft, increases air safety and fuel efficiency.
It can provide augmentation services for GPS over the whole country, the Bay of Bengal, Southeast Asia and West Asia expanding up to Africa.
Apart from the aviation and maritime sectors, Gagan is also expected to aid agriculture, the defence services, security agencies and disaster recovery management by helping in search and rescue operations.
At the time of the launch, Gagan consisted of 15 Indian reference stations (INRES), two Indian master control centres (INMCCs), thee Indian land uplink station (INLUS), and two geostationary satellites.