India will undertake the task of providing satellite imaging and aerial services for creating digital mapping of Maldives and for setting up of a Remote Sensing Unit in the Maldives for analyzing and updating the data. A Memorandum of Understanding to this effect was signed today (January 22, 2004) in Male, Maldives by Mr S M Gavai, High Commissioner of India in the Maldives on behalf of the Government of India and Mr Hamdun Hameed, Minister of Planning and National Development on behalf of the Government of Maldives. The project will commence by the end of January 2004.

Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner Mr S M Gavai said that the project would add a new dimension to the extensive and wide-ranging cooperation between the two countries in various areas and will further contribute to the strengthening of the extremely close and friendly relations between them. He added that India was happy to have been able to provide this assistance to the Maldives and conveyed that India would be willing to consider cooperation on a continuing basis in this area if desired by the Government of the Maldives. Minister of Planning and National Development, Mr Hamdun Hameed, expressed the gratitude of the Government of Maldives for the assistance rendered by India in this important area and termed the project a symbol of the warm and friendly ties between the two countries. He added that the project would meet a crucial need of the Maldivian Government.

The National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Hyderabad, of the Department of Space (DOS) will execute this project. The project will involve creation of medium scale maps of the entire Maldives and large scale maps of selected areas. Along with ground reference points, these maps will be used for generating a Geographical Information System (GIS), which can be updated periodically. NRSA will also assist in setting up the centre in Male for maintaining the GIS and for using satellite remote sensing data for thematic studies of land and oceans. NRSA will provide training to the Maldivian scientists for running the centre and interpreting the remote sensing data.

The MOU signed today is a sequel to the visit of the President of Maldives, H E Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayyum, to NRSA, Hyderabad, in August, 2000 when he was apprised of India’s capability in remote sensing area.