Space technology entrepreneurs, including Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expedite regulatory approvals, provide his personal oversight over the developments and fine tune rules to suit requirements of the industry.
Government think-tank body Niti Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant supported the industry demand and called for setting up of a single window clearance system for expeditious approval of projects.
Start-ups and small medium enterprises requested the prime minister to provide support in low-cost capital at the virtual launch of space and satellite industry body Indian Space Association (ISpA).
"Many approval processes are very slow. It takes a year and half to get approvals. Next 3-4 years are very critical.
"I request you to keep a personal oversight on this. If you will keep a watch on it and take status on the progress report then it will move at a very rapid pace," Mittal said during the online industry interaction with the prime minister.
During the event, he shared that Bharti Group-backed OneWeb has entered into an arrangement with the commercial arm of ISRO, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), to launch its satellite in India from 2022.
Kant in a separate session said he foresees an important avenue of reforms in the establishment of a single window clearance system.
"I want to put it bluntly that any attempt to reform the sector, without a very strong central window clearance, will not work."
Kant said startups are lean and fast, need quick clearance, help and facilitation.
"We need to act as catalysts with a very precise single window, and if they succeed, then India will succeed.
"Therefore, we should deal with all complex regulatory processes, change our mindsets and ensure a very quick expeditious single window," Kant said.
Hughes Communications India VP and chief technology officer K Krishan said that setting up a single-window clearance system will not work, rather all the work related to satellite companies should be given to the cell which is handling licensing work also at present.
"In the case of satellites, the spectrum assignment is the biggest fundamental block today.
"I think all the policies that are being done by the satellite cell- the licensing cell is incredible.
"It takes 9-12 months to assign spectrum.
"Just imagine I have a customer who is waiting for bandwidth and I am unable to provide bandwidth and ask the customer to wait 9-12 months. Which era are we in?" Krishna said.
He said that there is a need to give incentives to build satellite bandwidth capacity in the country.
Krishna also said that there are a number of levies on satellite services including GST, revenue sharing etc that comes to around 50 per cent which is a huge burden that industry is facing.
INSPACe chairman designate Pawan Goenka said India still has a very small share of the global space economy at just about 2 per cent and time has come for us to transition to India Space 2.0.
"We need to substantially increase our space capacity. We are doing 4-5 launches a year. I believe we have to triple this number in the mid-term.
"We need to quickly have small launch vehicles operational from both ISRO and the private sector," Goenka said.
According to market research and advisory firm EY, the global space economy reached $371 billion in 2020 and India accounted for 2.6 per cent of the global space economy amounting to $9.6 billion which was 0.5 per cent of the GDP of the country.
The Indian space economy is likely to reach $12.8 billion by 2025.
Space technology start-up Pixxel founder and CEO Awais Ahmed said the company has made its first satellite and in a few months it will be launched through ISRO.
"In the next two years, we will launch 30 more satellites which will provide data to the world and I expect them to be launched through ISRO," Ahmed said.
He said that if the regulatory approval process is expedited from months to weeks then the company can proceed at a faster pace.
Tata Nelco managing director and CEO PJ Nath asked the prime minister to expedite launch of space communication policy which will not only help in expanding the horizon of the space sector but will also help in future planning.
He said that some of the licences are very old including VSAT licences which need to be changed to support modern technologies.
Walchandnagar Industries MD and CEO Chirag C Doshi requested the government to create a system SME in the space sector to get access to cost effective capital and potential subsidies for manufacturing on the lines of production linked incentive schemes.
ISpA chairman Jayant Patil said space is a sunshine sector for the Indian entrepreneurs in the private sector to actually start building solutions across the domains in the sector.
"We hope to be creating this with an absolutely embracing kind of an environment and will work with the government. We will work with all the decision makers to make India's space sector a global player and an absolute position of pride for India in the times to come," Patil said.
The Indian satellite services market reached USD 3.8 billion in 2020 and is forecast to grow to USD 4.7 billion in 2025, at a CAGR of 4.3 per cent. PTI PRS