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Vital defence information still on the net

By Dennis Marcus Mathew

HYDERABAD, MARCH 24. A lot of water might have flown under the bridge since the debate over allowing an American satellite imagery firm take high-resolution pictures of various regions in Andhra Pradesh in 1999, with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) posting on their website pictures of several defence establishments in the country.

Though the FAS website does not have the pictures anymore, a former member of the federation, John Pike, still posts the satellite images of vital installations on his website www.globalsecurity.org. For those who want to have a look at the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd, Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL), the Advanced Numerical Research and Analysis Group and others from different angles, globalsecurity.org offers amazing options.

Besides, the site promises free information on security, terrorism, space and weapon-related issues from all over the world, including a peep into several high-profile documents and issues related to Afghanistan, Iraq and North Korea, among other governments, all in the name of "high quality information you won't get anywhere else."

The satellite images, clicked by the Space Imaging Inc.'s Ikonos satellite even include "probable" images of the prestigious Prithvi missile's garrison on the 333rd Missile Regiment's premises in Secunderabad, a high-security area that is strictly out of bounds for civilians.

As for the other defence and vital establishments in and around Hyderabad, different angles of the BDL, Midhani, the Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC), to name a few, are also posted on globalsecurity.org's link, World Special Weapons Guide, where `urban targets' and various facilities including nuclear ones, are highlighted. The Overview link of the website takes one to Wheeler Island, the missile test facility for the Agni intermediate range ballistic missile, off the east coast of India.

Along with "possible" frames of the Agni II missile airframe, the website adds that "likely interested parties will be the Governments of China or Pakistan."

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Trombay, the Ambala Airbase, the Interim Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea near Balasore, Orissa and the Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory at Chandigarh also figure on the site.

Though all this information has been on the site for quite some time, with hardly any opposition, the same could assume significance for Hyderabad, particularly in the context of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan making the city a hub and the outlawed People's War on a high offensive.

Most of the satellite images are for sale with a copyright lock clamped on them. Still, printouts of the establishments in Hyderabad and others such as the Wheeler Island, the very existence of which is news to many a civilian, can be taken.

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