Government annuls ISRO-Devas deal (Second Lead)

February 17th, 2011 - 4:01 pm ICT by IANS  

ISRO New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) Thursday annulled the deal between Antrix, the commercial arm of the Indian space agency ISRO, and private company Devas on the allocation of S-band spectrum, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said. “There has been an increased demand in the allocation of spectrum for national needs, including the needs for paramilitary forces, railways and other public utility services as well as for societal needs. And having the requirements, the government cannot afford to hand over this kind of a S-band even to Antrix for commercial activities,” Moily told reporters here after the CCS meeting.

“Therefore, the deal between Antix Corp-Devas Pvt Ltd as on Feb 28, 2005 shall be annulled. This decision was taken today by the CCS,” he said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has indicated that the deal between Antrix Corp and Devas caused the nation an estimated loss of Rs.2 lakh crore.

The government had denied that the nation suffered revenue losses in the allocation of space spectrum using S-band - high value and scarce radio waves - in the deal.

Talking about the legal implications over the axing of the deal, Moily said: “The legal impact was also discussed in the CCS and it will move to the court since the deal is annulled.

“The government has taken all possible litigations under consideration before taking the decision. We are very confident that this is the matter which, even if they go to the court, they will not succeed and we will be in a position to face any legal challenges,” he added.

Allegations surfaced that the nation suffered revenue losses because space spectrum using S-band was given by the Indian Space Research Organisation’s commercial arm to Devas Multimedia, at low prices without competitive bidding.

“With regards to the deal, how it had happened… these will be matter of consideration for that committee which will be headed by our Planning Commission member (B.K.) Chaturvedi,” Moily said.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that there was no effort in the PMO to dilute the decision taken by the Space Commission July 2 last year to cancel the deal.

“The delay in processing (of Space Commission recommendations) was only procedural. The fact is the contract is not operational in any practical sense and there was no question of diluting anyway the recommendations of the Space Commission,” he said.

According to the prime minister, his office received the annulment details only in November 2010.

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