Opposition targets govt on reports of new spectrum scam

A reported deal between ISRO and a private firm for allocation of scarce spectrum that a media report claims could cost the exchequer a whopping Rs. two lakh crore has provided further grist to the Opposition mill.

Last Updated: Feb 07, 2011, 21:19 PM IST

New Delhi: A reported deal between ISRO and a
private firm for allocation of scarce spectrum that a media
report claims could cost the exchequer a whopping Rs. two lakh
crore has provided further grist to the Opposition mill.

BJP and the Left parties today demanded a thorough probe
into a reported deal between Antrix Corporation, Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO`s) commercial arm, with Devas
Multimedia Private Ltd that allegedly confers unbridled use of
70 MHz of scarce S-band spectrum over a 20 year-period.
The Hindu-Businessline report claimed that preliminary
estimates by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has placed
the loss to the exchequer on account of the deal at Rs. two
lakh crore.

In a statement, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)
said its attention has been drawn to reports appearing in
media regarding audit being undertaken by Audit and Accounts
Department of DoS.

"The news item gives the impression as if our audit has
been finalised. This office clarifies that audit of certain
activities of DoS is under way.

"Very preliminary queries have been raised which are yet
to be replied by that department. Since the audit is at very
preliminary stage, it can by no stretch of imagination, be
concluded that information as given in the media reports are
findings of this department," the CAG statement said.

The BJP wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarify
on the issue.
Since the Department of Space is directly under the Prime
Minister, he should immediately clarify his stand on the whole
issue, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

"We demand a comprehensive inquiry to establish the
criminality in the whole matter. We also demand recovery
of the lost revenue," she said.

Congress refused to comment on the merit of the case
saying it was for Parliament`s Public Accounts Committee (PAC)
to examine any matter that causes a loss to the exchequer.

"There is a standard procedure. Whenever the CAG finds
something that has caused loss to the government, it
automatically goes to the PAC. I hope this matter also goes to
the PAC," Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

Left parties said the news reports pointed towards a "new
scam" and demanded a "thorough probe" into the matter.

"This is a new issue. The ISRO is under the Department of
Space which is under Prime Minister. This is also a new scam,"
CPI(M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said.

CPI National Secretary D Raja said the new revelations
were "very serious", a view echoed by senior RSP leader Abani
Roy who demanded that the matter be brought under the JPC into
2G spectrum allocations.

PTI