Antrix to have new Chairman after furore over satellite deal

Posted By: Pti
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New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) India''s apex space policy bodytoday set in motion a process to restructure AntrixCorporation, ISRO''s commercial arm, against the backdrop of acontroversial two-satellite deal it had struck with a privatefirm.

The Space Commission, at a meeting here, formed a searchcommittee to identify a Chairman-cum-Managing Director forAntrix.

Secretary, Department of Space is also the Chairman ofSpace Commission, ISRO and Antrix Corporation. Currently, KRadhakrishnan holds the posts.

After the new appointment, Radhkrishnan would no longerhold the top post in Antrix.

Antrix would continue to have a technocrat as its headbut for the first time, since its creation in 1992, the personwould not be the ISRO chief.

Radhakrishnan said the decision to have a CMD fo Antrixwas taken considering its business expansion and a newlyconferred ''mini-ratna'' status.

However, he maintained that there was no completerestructuring of ISRO''s commercial arm.

A three-member search committee is expected to suggestthree names for the newly created post. Till now Antrix had aManaging Director K Sridhara Murthy, who retired in Septemberlast year. An executive director has been appointed to lookinto the day-to-day affairs of Antrix till the new incumbenttakes charge.

The Space Commission was also apprised of the actiontaken in connection with termination of Antrix''s two satellitedeal with Devas Multimedia which media reports claimed couldhave caused loss of Rs two lakh crore to the exchequer.

Radhakrishnan said ISRO had circulated a detailed note onthe deal with Devas which was under consideration of theCabinet Committee on Security.

Antrix stands to pay penalties on two counts if the dealis cancelled, firstly on the delay in delivery of thesatellite and the annual payment for the life of thesatellite.

Radhakrishnan said the contract needed to be annulledgiven the requirement of the S-band spectrum for strategicpurposes.

He said the demand of the strategic sector for the scarcespectrum had increased five-fold in the last five years.

The Space Commission, at its meeting in July last year,had recommended annulment of the contract with Devas underwhich the private firm, floated by ex-ISRO officials, was toget on lease 90 per cent of the S-band transponders on twosatellites -- GSAT 6 and GSAT 6A for its novel DigitalBroadcast 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 had also suggested restructuringAntrix and a report on the matter had been submitted to ISROsubsequently.

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