No backroom talks on Antrix-Devas deal: PM

Written by: Pti
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Manmohan Singh
New Delhi, Feb 16: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday strongly rejected any suggestions that his office continued talks with Devas on its controversial deal with Antrix for lease of S-band spectrum after the Space Commission decided to scrap it.

"There have been no backroom talks... There has been no effort in the PMO to dilute in any way the decision taken by the Space Commission in Jul 2010. On that, I would like to assure you and the country," Singh said in an interaction with Editors of news channels.

However, he said that if there has been delay in scrapping the deal, this has been "only procedural".

"Though there has been some delay in processing, this was only procedural. The fact is that the contract was not operational in any practical sense," the Prime Minister said.

Antrix Corporation, ISRO's commercial arm, had signed a contract with Devas Multimedia in Jan 2005 for lease of 90 per cent transponders in two satellites to be built by ISRO.

Bundled into the deal was 70 MHz of S-Band spectrum which was priced at Rs 1000 crore.

A media expose claimed that the deal could have caused loss of over Rs 2 lakh crore to the national exchequer.

The Space Commission, which considered the matter at its meeting on Jul 2, last year, recommended termination of the deal.

Singh said following the Space Commission recommendation in Jul last year, a decision had to be taken on the how to annul the contract and consultations were held with the Law Ministry in this regard.

"Eventually, it has been decided that the government should take a sovereign policy decision," Singh said.

The Prime Minister said his office received a Cabinet note in Nov, 2010, from the Department of Space for termination of the contract with Devas.

"Even then there were a number of consultations to polish it up... and the Department of Space itself took six revisions of the note before submitting it for approval," Singh said.


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