Opposition targets govt on reports of new spectrum scam

New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) A reported deal between ISRO and aprivate firm for allocation of scarce spectrum that a mediareport claims could cost the exchequer a whopping Rs. two lakhcrore has provided further grist to the Opposition mill.

BJP and the Left parties today demanded a thorough probeinto a reported deal between Antrix Corporation, Indian SpaceResearch Organisation (ISRO''s) commercial arm, with DevasMultimedia Private Ltd that allegedly confers unbridled use of70 MHz of scarce S-band spectrum over a 20 year-period.

The Hindu-Businessline report claimed that preliminaryestimates by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has placedthe loss to the exchequer on account of the deal at Rs. twolakh crore.

In a statement, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)said its attention has been drawn to reports appearing inmedia regarding audit being undertaken by Audit and AccountsDepartment of DoS.

"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.

The BJP wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarifyon the issue.

Since the Department of Space is directly under the PrimeMinister, he should immediately clarify his stand on the wholeissue, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

"We demand a comprehensive inquiry to establish thecriminality in the whole matter. We also demand recoveryof the lost revenue," she said.

Congress refused to comment on the merit of the casesaying it was for Parliament''s Public Accounts Committee (PAC)to examine any matter that causes a loss to the exchequer.

"There is a standard procedure. Whenever the CAG findssomething that has caused loss to the government, itautomatically goes to the PAC. I hope this matter also goes tothe PAC," Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

Left parties said the news reports pointed towards a "newscam" and demanded a "thorough probe" into the matter.

"This is a new issue. The ISRO is under the Department ofSpace which is under Prime Minister. This is also a new scam,"CPI(M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said.

CPI National Secretary D Raja said the new revelationswere "very serious", a view echoed by senior RSP leader AbaniRoy who demanded that the matter be brought under the JPC into2G spectrum allocations.

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