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Hyderabad, Jan. 4

THE indigenously developed `Nishant', the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), can efficiently provide crucial data, if it is deployed during times of natural crisis.

The night vision devices, including goggles, developed again by defence scientists, have been used by security personnel to outsmart terrorists. Similarly, the communication, control and command system built up for the missile systems can be replicated for managing disaster situations.

Citing these capabilities, the Director of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) here, Dr Prahlada, said the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is gearing up to play a pro-active role in disaster management in the country in future.

Moved by the large-scale devastation caused by the recent tsunami and the void in technological capabilities to anticipate and monitor in real-time, certain natural disasters, defence scientists feel they need to chip in now, Dr Prahlada, who is heading one of the biggest DRDO labs, told presspersons.

The 50-laboratory strong DRDO is firming up plans to lend its hand in the country's disaster management challenges, internal security and anti-terrorism efforts, he said.

With its all India network, including labs in deserts, mountains and ocean, the earthquake prone north-east and the vast scientific manpower, the DRDO is well placed to contribute to building systems than can help during natural calamities.

Dr Prahlada said some projects in this direction are expected to be formalised during the current year. "Though nobody has approached the DRDO, its just a matter of time. Within DRDO there is consensus on the new role. We have to re-orient some of our resources," he said.

Though the Army used imported UAVs recently, the DRDO is now capable of producing low-cost versions with the expertise of the Bangalore-based, Aeronautical Development Establishment.

The DRDL Chief said that the high precision delivery, monitoring, communications and all weather capabilities developed by its various laboratories could be effectively deployed for disaster management, internal security and anti-terrorism.

He said the Naval Science and Technology Laboratory, Visakhapatnam, is developing unmanned underwater vehicles which can be used to study ocean parameters or abnormalities. Similarly, the Naval Physical Oceanographic Laboratory, Kochi, is involved in the study of various ocean related issues for submarines etc.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 5, 2005)
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