Restructuring of Antrix Corporation on the anvil

New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) Space Commission, the country''sapex space policy body, today set the ball rolling for atop-level restructuring of Antrix Corporation, ISRO''scommercial arm which is caught in the eye of a storm over itscontroversial twin-satellite deal with a private firm.

The Commission, at a meeting chaired by K Radhakrishnan,was apprised of the actions taken on terminating Antrix''s dealwith Devas Multimedia Private Limited which reportedly couldhave caused Rs two lakh crore loss to the national exchequer.

The Space Commission appointed a three-member searchcommittee to identify a new full-time Chairman for Antrix,who will be separate from the ISRO Chairman.

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

Addressing a press conference after the meeting,Radhakrishnan said it was decided to have a newChairman-cum-Managing Director for Antrix considering itsnewly acquired ''mini ratna'' status.

He said Antrix needed to be taken to the next level giventhe demand in the global market. However, he maintained thatthere was no complete restructuring of ISRO''s commercial arm.

The decision comes as a review panel appointed by PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh prepares to examine whether theCabinet was misled by ISRO on the S-Band spectrum deal betweenAntrix and Devas Multimedia.

Radhakrishnan said ISRO had made public a detailed paperon the Antrix-Devas deal which was now under consideration ofthe Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

"I can share with you that currently the paper is underconsideration of the Cabinet Committee on Security. We expectthe CCS to look at this proposal in the coming days and when adecision is conveyed to us, I would inform you," he said.

In 2005, Antrix signed a contract with Devas Multimediato build two satellites on which Devas would leasetransponders in India. Bundled into the deal was 70 MHz ofS-Band spectrum which was priced at Rs. 1000 crore.

In December 2009, ISRO ordered a review of the deal andsubsequently the Space Commission recommended its annulment onJuly 2, 2010. But surprisingly Antrix continued to take theproject forward. Antrix and Devas continued to meet on theproject as late January 2011.

Antrix representatives met Devas executives three timesin the last eight months - the most recent meeting was earlierthis month. Documents suggest that ISRO was going ahead tomeet its contractual commitments.

Devas, in a statement earlier, said it was never told ofthe proposal to terminate the deal.

"Devas has never been informed by DOS/ISRO/Antrix at anytime prior to February 8, 2011 that the Agreement was underreview since December 8, 2009 and even to date we havereceived no official notices," it said.

On the contrary Devas was provided written confirmationthat all required approvals had been obtained from the highestlevels for giving effect to the Agreement and repeatedlyassured that the delays in delivery of the satellite capacitywere only on account of technical issues," it said.

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