None of our officials decided spectrum lease to Devas
New Delhi: Indian Space Research Organisation has said none of its official or anyone from Antrix Corporation or Space department was involved in the decision to lease precious S-band spectrum to Devas Multimedia at a throw away price in a controversial satellite deal which has been since annulled by the Centre.
The ISRO, which came under criticism over the deal that could have caused a huge loss to the exchequer, also refused to make public the contract which its commercial arm Antrix Corporation Limited had signed with Devas Multimedia in January 2005.
The space organisation said in response to an RTI query seeking names of officials, who were party to decision making for the deal that "none of the officials of Department of Space/Indian Space Research Organisation were involved in the decision making process regarding allocation of S-band spectrum to Devas Multimedia."
The applicant had also sought to know from the ISRO file notings of the deal signed by Devas Multimedia way back in 2005. The space organisation did not provide the notings saying, "the contract was prepared and finalised by mutual discussions between the parties. The interactions were basically in the form of technical presentations in line with the international practice."
The disclosure of file notings could bring to light officials who were consulted before Antrix entered the controversial deal, their views on the proposal put forth by Devas Multimedia and circumstances in which decision was taken to include clause in the contract which allowed use of rare S-band spectrum by the private firm.
Under the deal, Antrix was to provide scarce S-Band wavelength, which is primarily kept for strategic interests of the country, to Devas for running its digital multimedia service by leasing 90 per cent transponders on two satellites — GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A. The company had to pay Antrix a total of USD 300 million over a period of 12 years.
Antrix had signed the contract in January 2005 and got sanction of the Space Commission and the Union Cabinet for the two satellites at the cost of nearly Rs 400 crore without informing them that bulk capacity would be leased to Devas.
In December 2009, ISRO ordered a review of the deal and subsequently Space Commission recommended its annulment on July 2, 2010. The Commission had also suggested restructuring Antrix and a report on the matter had been submitted to ISRO subsequently.
The Centre had annulled the contract after allegations of selling scarce wavelength at throwaway price were levelled by the Opposition. Telecom department had also objected saying the spectrum was for strategic use and should not be given for commercial ones as was the case of Devas multimedia.