Neigbours chant 'Har Har Modi' after PM's Rs 10000-cr gift

  New Delhi:South Asian leaders on Friday hailed India for the successful launch of the India-initiated South Asia Satellite.

"On today's auspicious occasion, I congratulate the Government of India (for the successful launch)," Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was quoted as saying by the Indian Prime Minister's Office (PMO). the neighbouring nations expect a benefit of Rs 10000 crore from the satellite.

"Happy to be able to talk to PM Narendra Modi and other esteemed leaders," she said, according to a series of tweets by the PMO.

An Indian rocket with the over two-tonne South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9, intended to address the region's "economic and developmental priorities", blasted off from the Sriharikota spaceport on Friday evening.

Precisely at 4.57 p.m., the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09) rose into the sky from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at the spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.

The 49 metre-tall, 415-tonne rocket will sling into orbit, the 2,230 kg South Asia Satellite, intended as an 'Indian Gift' for use by its fellow South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) nations save Pakistan, which had opted out, stating "it has its own space programme".

In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tasked the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to develop a satellite for use by the Saarc countries.

Hasina also said that "betterment of our people can happen through fruitful engagement".

Stating that development must be citizen centric, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Friday's development "is child centred and women centred, it makes governance accessible."

"Through this cooperation, we have to work for the poor and the deprived," the PMO quoted Ghani as saying.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said: "Launch of this satellite, our satellite, augurs well for our region and for nations like Bhutan."

He expressed his gratitude to "visionary leader" Modi "for dedicating it to the common progress of the South Asian region."

"This gift from India is an example of true friendship and cooperation. It will bring common progress of our region," Tobgay said. "Launch of the South Asia Satellite (is a) historic moment for the world, it ushers in a new era of regional cooperation."

"'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas', says President Abulla Yameen," the PMO cited the Maldives President as saying.

"This launch is an example of India's 'neighbourhood first policy'," Yameen said.

Congratulating Modi and the Indian government for the launch of the satellite, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" said this would enhance connectivity.

"This will be helpful to provide communication services in the mountain and hilly regions of Nepal," Prachanda said.

The PMO also quoted Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena as saying that this initiative would "support people in all regions, enhance economic conditions and help in eliminating poverty".

"This initiative will provide assistance to many priority areas of the region," Sirisena said.

"It is an honour to congratulate you on this historic occasion," he told Modi.

Costing around Rs 235 crore, the satellite was initially known as the Saarc satellite but with Pakistan deciding to keep out, it is now called the South Asia Satellite. Its life span is over 12 years.