Why one man four posts?, Par panel asks ISRO

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of the controversial Antrix-Devas deal, the practice of one person holding the post of ISRO Chairman along with top positions in Antrix, Department of Space and Space Commission came in for questioning today by a Parliamentary panel.

The questions were raised by members of Parliament`s Committee on Estimates during a meeting where ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan and other top officials were present.

The Estimates Committee, headed by Lok Sabha member Francisco Sardinha, today began examination of the controversial Antrix-Devas deal on scarce S-band space segment, which has since been annulled by the government.

Radhakrishnan, accompanied by ISRO Scientific Secretary V S Hegde, ISRO Satellite Centre Director T K Alex among others, made presentations before the Committee on the activities of the space agency.

Towards the end of the presentation, Committee members including Chandrakant Khaire, Raghuvansh Prasad and Manish Tewari, raised matters related to the Antrix Corporation`s deal with Devas Multimedia for lease of S-band space segment on two satellites.

One of the members wanted to know whether it was stated in the law that one person would hold the posts of Chairman ISRO, Chairman Space Commission, Chairman Antrix Corporation and Secretary, Department of Space.

Radhakrishnan holds all the posts at present.

Radhakrishnan told the members that the government had in February annulled the controversial deal between Antrix Corporation and Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia for lease of space segment in S-band.

Under the deal, Antrix was to provide 70 MHz of the scarce S-Band space segment to Devas for its digital multimedia services. This was to be done by leasing 90 per cent of the transponders in satellites GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A that are proposed to be launched by ISRO. Devas, in turn, was to pay Antrix a total of 300 million over 12 years.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had ordered a review of the deal by a committee comprising B K Chaturvedi, Member, Planning Commission and aerospace scientist Roddam Narsimha.

The committee had submitted its report to the Prime Minister on March 12. Singh had asked Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekar to examine the report.

Radhakrishnan told the Committee that the Cabinet Secretary was yet to give his report to the Prime Minister.