Centre scraps ISRO-Devas deal on S-band spectrum allocation

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New Delhi, Feb 17 (ANI): The controversial S-Band deal between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) commercial wing Antrix and Devas Multimedia has finally been cancelled.

The decision to terminate the contract was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Law Minister Veerappa Moily.

In a statement, Law Minister Moily said: "Antrix S-Band deal with Devas is annulled. The government can't provide S-Band spectrum for commercial activities. We have considered legal aspects of Devas deal and are ready to face them in court. Devas is not likely to succeed."

"Taking note of the fact that Government policies with regard to allocation of spectrum have undergone a change in the last few years and there has been an increased demand for allocation of spectrum for national needs, including for the needs of defence, para-military forces, railways and other public utility services as well as for societal needs, and having regard to the needs of the country's strategic requirements, the Government will not be able to provide orbit slot in S band to Antrix for commercial activities, including for those which are the subject matter of existing contractual obligations for S band," he said.

"In the light of this policy of not providing orbit slot in S-Band to Antrix for commercial activities, the "agreement for the lease of space segment capacity on ISRO/Antrix S-Band spacecraft by Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd." entered into between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. on 28th January, 2005 shall be annulled forthwith," he added.

The decision came a day after Dr. Singh 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.

The annulment comes in the wake of a raging controversy over the deal for handing over 70 Mhz of S-Band spectrum to the private firm for Rs 1,000 crore on which the CAG has already initiated action.

According to certain estimates, this deal may have resulted in a loss of Rs two lakh crore to the exchequer.

After news reports about the possible revenue loss appeared, the Government and ISRO said the project was already under review and action has been initiated for termination of the contract.

Earlier, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) issued a statement which denied reports that a private company has been allotted a whopping 70MHZ of spectrum for barely Rs. 1000 crore through a deal with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which reports directly to the Prime Minister.

The PMO clarified that no decision has been taken by the Government to allocate space segment using S Band Spectrum to ANTRIX Corporation or Devas Multimedia.

"Hence, the question of revenue loss does not arise and any such reports are without basis in fact," the statement added. (ANI)

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