Govt stares at another suspected spectrum scam

Written by: Pti
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New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) Government was today faced withanother suspected scam which can cost the exchequer upto Rstwo lakh crore concerning a deal between ISRO and a privatecompany and in a quick response it was announced that the pactwas under review.

After a news report this morning that ISRO''s commercialarm -- Antrix Corporation -- has entered into a deal withDevas Multimedia Services that allegedly confers unbridled useof 70 MHz of scarce S-band spectrum over a 20 year-period, theDepartment of Space came out with a late night statement.

"The Department (of Space) wishes to clarify that theAgreement entered into by Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO,and M/s. Devas on January 28, 2005 is already under review bythe DoS and the government will take whatever steps arenecessary to safeguard public interest. A decision on thematter is likely to be taken soon," it said.

Devas is owned by M G Chandrasekhar, former ScientificSecretary, ISRO.

The DoS statement climaxed a day of strong attacks byopposition parties which targetted the government and demandeda clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The DoScomes directly under the Prime Minister.

Earlier in the day, the Comptroller and Auditor General(CAG) said its attention has been drawn to reports appearingin media regarding audit being undertaken by Audit andAccounts Department of DoS. The report said according topreliminary estimates by CAG this spectrum "largesse" to aprivate party could cost the exchequer in excess of Rs twolakh crore.

"The news item gives the impression as if our audit hasbeen finalised. This office clarifies that audit of certainactivities of DoS is under way.

"Very preliminary queries have been raised which are yetto be replied by that department. Since the audit is at verypreliminary stage, it can by no stretch of imagination, beconcluded that information as given in the media reports arefindings of this department," the CAG statement said. MORE PTISKU JD

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