Spectrum scam? Govt reviewing ISRO deal
New Delhi: The government said Monday that the agreement between the commercial wing of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and a private company in 2005 on the allocation of S-band spectrum was being reviewed and a decision will be taken soon.
In a press statement posted on ISRO`s website Monday, the government said it will take all necessary steps to safegaurd the public interest.
"The Department of Space has seen the news item in The Hindu titled `CAG goes after another spectrum deal`. The Comptroller and Auditor General has already clarified in a statement issued today (Monday) that the audit of the Department of Space is under way and that only preliminary queries have been raised on the matter. These will be replied to by the Department of Space," the statement said.
"However, the Department wishes to clarify that the agreement entered into by Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO, and M/s. Devas on January 28, 2005 is already under review by the Department of Space and the government will take whatever steps are necessary to safeguard public interest. A decision on the matter is likely to be taken soon," it added.
The opposition, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left Monday demanded a probe into the CAG`s estimates of a Rs.2 lakh crore loss to the exchequer due to the agreement.
The BJP said that Antrix Corporation Limited signed an agreement with Devas Multimedia Private Limited for launching two satellites and added that the managing director of the private entity was a former scientific secretary of the ISRO.
According to the report in newspaper, the agreement relates to ISRO`s launching of two satellites for Devas and bestows on the company a large hidden benefit of unbridled use of 70 MHz of the scarce S-band spectrum over 20 years.
Under the deal, Devas Multimedia is to get the broadband spectrum in the 2500 Mhz band. The report said that in 2010, the union government got nearly Rs.67,719 crore from the auction of just 15 MHz of similar airwaves for 3G mobile services.
According to preliminary CAG estimates, the spectrum largesse to a private player could have caused the exchequer a loss in excess of Rs.2 lakh crore, the report said, adding that the CAG had started inquiries into the 2005 agreement between Antrix Corporation and the private company.
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