BALASORE: Imagery presence of key defence establishments of the country in various platforms in the web has left the defence experts worried. The maps and satellite images of these installations are in fact in public domain much before the Google initiated ‘Mapathon 2013,’ which is now under the CBI scanner.
Sources said the map of tactical pilotage chart depicting Wheeler Island and its surrounding areas, satellite images of the missile control room, missile assembly building and missile launching complex at Wheeler Island, Integrated Test Range (ITR) and Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) at Chandipur are now available online along with their detailed longitude and latitude data.
Alarmingly, description of a few photos available on the web read: “A movable missile shelter measuring 30 metres appears to be on rails in the middle of the launch pad, a close-up of the missile assembly/checkout building measuring 40 x 30 metres and an overview of the pier and helipad. The painted pattern on the helipad is a futile attempt to camouflage, a probable AGNI missile airframe measuring about 20 metres is visible and a new missile assembly building has been constructed since 31 May 2000”.
Defence authorities and experts believe such a thing move is likely to put national security in jeopardy. Many hostile agencies are keeping an eye on the development of the country’s defence installations located strategically and making the map/image of these vulnerable areas public may help these agencies execute their machinations.
Retired defence employee B P Mohanty said pinpointed location of vulnerable areas in public domain may come in handy for anti-national elements in their sinister design. The Government should have a proactive interface with such websites to find a tangible solution.
“These photos are available since long. How can the authorities be so callous, whimsical and apathetic towards security concerns”, he asked.
While the intelligence operatives have alerted several times, no tangible action has been taken so far to remove these images and neutralise the threat perception generated by Google and Wikimapia. Not only the images of defence and nuclear installations and military bases, some high-resolution satellite images of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament and key Government offices of the country are also available in public domain thereby raising serious threats from terrorist organisations.
Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and DRDO Chief Avinash Chander admitted that the presence of such images can have serious repercussions if people come to know what is happening inside. “There are areas like cantonments and military installations of which pictorial documents should not be published or made visible openly,” he said.
When asked if it can be banned, Chander told ‘The Express’ there is no point in putting the ban now. “There are international reasons. People might have copied the pictures. Satellite and sky imaging are done by many agencies. We can’t stop this happening. But we have to make sure that we can protect ourselves in these conditions. We are taking care of that,” he added.
Meanwhile, the CBI has started inquiring into public competition ‘Mapathon 2013’ organised by Google India last year to update its internet maps.