Space Commission to meet tomorrow; may discuss Antrix revamp

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New Delhi, Feb 11 (PTI) India''s top space policy body isexpected to discuss a structural revamp of Antrix, ISRO''scommercial arm, against the backdrop of a controversial dealto lease out bulk transponders on two satellites to a privatefirm.

The Space Commission, headed by K Radhakrishnan, ismeeting tomorrow during which Antrix Corporation''s contractwith Devas Multimedia is likely to be discussed among otherissues, sources said here today.

The Commission had in July last year recommendedannulment of the contract with Devas under which the privatefirm, floated by ex-ISRO officials, was to get on lease 90 percent of the S-band transponders on two satellites -- GSAT 6and GSAT 6A for its novel Digital Broadcast Audio Service.

Antrix had signed the contract in January 2005 and hadgot sanction of the Space Commission and the Union Cabinet forthe two satellites without informing them that bulk capacitywould be leased to Devas Multimedia.

In December 2009, ISRO ordered a review of the deal andsubsequently Space Commission recommended its annulment onJuly 2, 2010. The Commission also suggested restructuringAntrix and a report on the matter had been submitted to ISROsubsequently.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed a two-membercommittee to review the Antrix-Devas deal after a media exposeclaimed that it would have resulted in an estimated loss tothe exchequer to the tune of Rs two lakh crore.

Devas Multimedia today welcomed the government''s decisionto review various aspects of the deal under which it was toget bulk transponders of two satellites on lease.

"We are fully committed to working with anybody in theGovernment on the reviews and will be willing to share anyrequested information with agencies concerned," RamachandranViswanathan, President and CEO of Devas Multimedia, said.

The two-member committee is expected to fixresponsibility for lapses, if any, suggest corrective steps,and review the adequacy of existing procedures and approvalprocesses followed by Antrix, ISRO and the Space Department.

The committee members are B K Chaturvedi, Member,Planning Commission and former Cabinet Secretary, and RoddamNarasimha, an aerospace scientist and Member, SpaceCommission. They have been asked to submit their report to thePrime Minister in a month.

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