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Panel to probe ISRO-Devas deal
New Delhi/Bangalore, Feb 10 (IANS):
Published on 11 Feb. 2011 12:14 AM IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday formed a two-member commission to probe allegations of revenue losses in the allocation of space spectrum using S-band -- high value and scarce radio waves -- between the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) commercial arm and a private company.
“The prime minister has formed a high-level commission, which will submit its report within a month,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters in New Delhi.
The two-member commission comprises Planning Commission member and former cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi and Space Commission member and aerospace expert Roddam Narasimha.
Reports have alleged loss of government revenue in a contract entered into by Antrix Corporation -- the commercial arm of ISRO -- and Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd due to lease of space segment capacity which would use S-Band spectrum.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has indicated that the alleged deal between Antrix and Devas has caused the nation an estimated loss of Rs.2 lakh crore.
“The committee has been directed to submit its recommendations to the Prime Minister as Minister-in-charge of the Department of Space within one month,” India’s space agency added in a statement in Bangalore.
The press release said the committee would “review the technical, commercial, procedural and financial aspects of the agreement between ANTRIX (ISRO’s commercial arm) and M/s. Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd, and to review the adequacy of procedures and approval processes followed by ANTRIX, ISRO and Department of Space, and to suggest improvements and changes.”
The government Tuesday denied that the nation suffered revenue losses in the allocation of space spectrum using S-band but admitted that the agreement between Antrix and Devas had not explicitly mentioned the end-use terms. Further, it said the agreement was being cancelled.
Devas defends deal
Devas Multimedia, whose deal with Antrix for S-band spectrum has triggered a storm, today said it had all “appropriate approvals” from the government for its business.
Devas President and CEO Ramachandran Viswanathan said it still has the legally binding agreement with Antrix Corporation and was awaiting delivery of the contracted space segment capacity from ISRO.
“Devas has fulfilled all of its obligations in respect of the agreement over the past six years and now awaits the delivery of the contracted space segment capacity, which is more than two years delayed per the agreement,” he said in a statement.
He said Devas had proceeded with the project after required consents and approvals were obtained within the government, culminating with Space Commission and Union Cabinet, and the same were confirmed by Antrix in February 2006.
Ramanathan said Devas has secured appropriate approvals from the government related to conducting its business.
“All foreign direct investment into Devas has also been with due FIPB approvals and in full compliance with government regulations,” he said.
Devas has developed technologies that are essential for the delivery of advanced services, including societal, strategic and commercial applications, through ISRO’s GSAT 6 and 6A satellites, he said.
Ramanathan said the association of former ISRO officials with Devas was in full compliance with the government rules.
“It appears that their freedom is curtailed as it is seeking short remand of the accused,” Apex court

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