CAG raps ISRO for extending "undue benefit" to foreign satellite

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) rapped ISRO for allowing foreign satellite to park in orbit slot meant for Indian satellites in violation of nation`s SATCOM policy and extending "undue benefit".

New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Friday rapped space agency ISRO for allowing a foreign private satellite service provider to park its satellite in an orbit slot meant for Indian satellites in violation of nation`s SATCOM policy and extending "undue benefit" to a foreign firm.

The audit watchdog in its latest report on scientific and environmental ministries and departments also stumbled upon disparities in the allocation of bandwidth to 22 states in EDUSAT utilisation programme as well as deficiency in the monitoring and evaulation of this ambitious e-learning programme.

The report also referred to instances of weaknesses in the procurement and contract management systems of some of the scientific institutions, resulting in unfruitful expenditure.

On the foreign satellite issue, the CAG said, "in the course of audit, it was observed that ISRO allowed Intelstat, an international private satellite organization, to place their satellite at 55 E in an orbital location coordinated by the Indian Administration. The foreign satellite was also allowed non-Indian coverage...

"It is evident that Indian Administration Coordinated orbital slots were to be used by Indian satellites. By allowing a foreign satellite to occupy the Indian slot, ISRO violated the country`s SATCOM policy as well as International Telecommunication Union`s radio regulations and thereby extended undue benefit to the foreign firm".

The panel noted that ISRO had leased 16 transporders from Intelsat for one year from February 2003 to February 2004 as a stop gap arrangement to esnure continuity of services of the Indian Communications satellite INSAT 2DT, which had stopped functioning since 2003. It was then that the foreign satellite was shifted to the orbital location of INSAT 2 DT.

The CAG said that although the replacement of satellite to INSAT 2DT was later launched in September 2003, ISRO allowed the Intelsat satellite IS 702 to continue to function from the same location.