Policy

2-man panel to probe all aspects of Antrix-Devas deal

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 10, 2017 Published on February 10, 2011

isro   -  Business Line

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The Government on Thursday said that it has constituted a two-member review committee to go into the details of the agreement between Devas Multimedia and Antrix.



The panel will be headed by Mr B.K. Chaturvedi, Member, Planning Commission. Professor Roddam Narasimha, Member, Space Commission, will also be part of this committee.



The Committee has also been asked to review the adequacy of procedures and approval processes followed by Antrix and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Department of Space, and to suggest improvements and changes.



The committee will review the technical, commercial, procedural and financial aspects of the agreement between Antrix and Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd.



Report in one month



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, said Ms Ambika Soni, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, while briefing media after the Cabinet meeting today.



The development comes just four days after the Business Line and The Hindu exposed the implications of the deal whereby Devas would have got access to highly valuable S-band spectrum along with satellite transponders at low price and without any competitive bidding.



On Tuesday, the Department of Space had indicated that it will take action against officials in Antrix if it was found that laid out procedures were not followed in finalising the agreement with Devas.



The DoS had conceded that the Cabinet was not “explicitly” told about the contract and that Devas would be the major beneficiary of the deal.



Opposition cries foul



Meanwhile, political parties said that the move to appoint a committee was an attempt to “cover-up” the alleged scam. The BJP spokesperson, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, said that Mr Chaturvedi, was the Cabinet Secretary when the controversial agreement was approved.



“If a decision has to be investigated, can it be done by the same person who was part of the decision making process? It defeats the whole purpose of the exercise,” she said. Ms Sitharaman said the composition of the panel suggested that the Government was trying to cover up its lapses.



ISRO's commercial arm Antrix had entered into an agreement in 2005 with Devas for leasing 10 transponders in two new satellites.



The deal would have also given access to S-band spectrum for just Rs 1,000 crore, when the same spectrum fetched billions of dollars in auctions done in other countries.





>tkt@thehindu.co.in

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Published on February 10, 2011
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