ISRO to launch SAARC satellite on March 2017.IANS

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Tuesday that it would be ready to launch Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Saarc satellite in March 2017.

"SAARC satellite will be launched in March," ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar said, as reported by PTI.

The Saarc satellite was mooted by PM Modi at the 2014 Saarc Summit in Kathmandu, Nepal, as a "gift" to the neighbours, expanding information sharing, connectivity, telecommunication and tele-medicine.

The satellite was originally expected to launch in December 2016, but Kiran Kumar had previously accepted the fact that ISRO's calendar was fully packed and it was difficult for them to launch it in December.

Following India's announcement, Pakistan opted out of the Saarc satellite project. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said that it would be called a South Asia satellite rather than Saarc satellite.

Apart from Pakistan, Afghanistan too has not shown interest in the satellite. Afghanistan had tied up with a European company for all its needs that were associated with space.

Sources told the Hindustan Times that even Bangladesh was not too keen as it was gearing up for the launch of its own geostationary communications satellite Bang Bandhu-1 in December 2017. But Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka were open to the Saarc satellite.