ISRO's new station in Bhutan to pose stiff challenge to China
New Delhi, Jan 3: India is building a satellite tracking and data reception centre in neighbouring Bhutan. The new station is likely to double up as "a strategic asset" for the country, given its location between India and China, said reports citing unidentified people aware of the matter.
It may be mentioned that China has already set up an advanced satellite tracking centre and astronomical observatory at Ngari in Tibet Autonomous Region, about 125 km away from the Line of Actual Control.
It has been learnt that the Chinese facility in Tibet is so advanced that apart from tracking Indian satellites, it can also "blind" them.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mentioned the ground station in his media statement on December 28, 2018. "Space science is the new dimension of our cooperation (with Bhutan). I am happy that Ground Station being built by ISRO in Bhutan to reap the benefits of the South Asian Satellite is soon going to be completed," he said.
"With the completion of this project, Bhutan will get help in tasks such as weather information, tele-medicine and disaster relief in the far-flung areas of the country," said Modi.
The South Asia Satellite was launched back in 2017 with India funding the entire project. Although this project will help Bhutan, this will serve as a strategic countermeasure for India to stop the Chinese advance in Tibet by having our own tracking station. China has technology that can not just track satellites, but also blind them.
The strategic step by India comes after the Doklam crisis when China tried to construct a road at a tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan, which led to a 72 day face-off between the Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army at Doklam in 2017.
Meanwhile, India announced a Rs 4,500 crore financial assistance to Bhutan for its 12th five-year plan (FYP 2018-2023) in continuation to the policy of India that has provided assistance to Bhutan in every FYP.