Ministers seek details on ISRO deal at Cabinet meeting

New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) Against the backdrop of acontroversial spectrum deal by Antrix, several ministerssought to know details of the agreement at a meeting of theUnion Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Singh called in ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Departmentof Space K Radhakrishnan to brief the Cabinet on the agreementAntrix had signed with Devas Multimedia, a private companyfloated by former ISRO officials.

Radhakrishnan circulated a two-page note among theministers on the agreement with Devas which the SpaceCommission had, in July last year, recommended be annulled.

The Prime Minister also informed the Cabinet that he hadset up a two-member Committee of B K Chaturvedi and RoddamNarsimha to review various aspects of the controversialagreement which media reports claimed could cause a loss of Rstwo lakh crore to the national exchequer.

A few ministers wanted to know the need for the deal withDevas and the purpose it would serve. At this point it wasdecided to wait till the High Power Committee submits itsreport.

At the Cabinet briefing when asked about the Antrix deal,Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said theissue was discussed after the meeting and a two-membercommittee has been asked to submit a report within a month.

When pointed out that Chaturvedi was Cabinet Secretarywhen the deal was signed, Soni said she was not in a positionto comment but added that "he would know how and why ithappened. An individual can assess the situation rising abovea particular post, unless you are a beneficiary."

The Committee has been asked to review the technical,commercial, procedural and financial aspects of the agreement.

The Committee would review the adequacy of proceduresand approval processes followed by Antrix, ISRO and Departmentof Space, and suggest improvements and changes.

Media reports had stated that the Department of Space hadallocated 70 MHz of S-Band spectrum to Devas Multimedia for Rs1,000 crore. The actual value of this was estimated to bearound Rs 2 lakh crore, the reports claimed.

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