Scrap the Devas-Antrix deal, says Space Commission

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 10, 2017 Published on February 12, 2011

Antrix   -  Business Line

Cabinet Committee on Security to decide on ISRO note

The Space Commission on Saturday agreed to go ahead with its earlier decision to scrap the deal between Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd and ISRO's commercial arm, Antrix Corporation.

The proposal to annul the deal will now be put up before the Cabinet Committee on Security for ratification. ISRO has already sent a note to the CCS, which is expected to meet the coming week.

After the Space Commission meeting, which lasted for more than two hours, Dr K. Radhakrishnan, Secretary, Department of Space, said that the contract needed to be annulled given the requirement of the S-band spectrum for strategic purposes.

The meeting was attended by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr V. Narayanasamy, and the National Security Advisor, Mr Shivshankar Menon, among others.

‘Caught in procedural delays'

“In view of the priority to nation's strategic interests, the deal between Devas and Antirx will be annulled,” said an ISRO official after the Space Commission meeting.

The Commission had in 2010 decided to annul the contract but claims to have got stuck in procedural delays for executing it. But after an investigative report by Business Line and The Hindu on Monday exposing the implication of the deal, the Government said it was looking at the best option to exit the venture without causing loss to the exchequer.

Devas Multimedia, on the other hand, maintains that it was not informed about the decision to scrap the deal until Tuesday and had even met senior Government officials this January to discuss the future of the project. Devas has indicated that it will take legal action if the agreement is cancelled. The start-up has even offered to review the agreement in a bid to salvage the project in which it claims to have invested millions of dollars.

On Saturday, ISRO apprised the Space Commission of the action taken in connection with termination of the Antrix-Devas deal that was signed in 2005. Dr Radhakrishnan said the demand for S-band spectrum had increased five-fold in the last five years and hence the agreement had to be scrapped.

According to the agreement, Devas would have got a large chunk of the S-band spectrum along with ten transponders it had leased on two ISRO satellites for just Rs 1,000 crore when the same frequency band had fetched billions of dollars in auction conducted in other countries. Devas was planning to offer broadband services using a mix of satellite and terrestrial network.

Devas did not respond to Saturday's development.


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Published on February 12, 2011
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