Review panel on ISRO deal a cover-up: BJP

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday dismissed as an attempt at a “cover-up” the setting up of a panel by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to review the agreement between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and a private firm for lease of the high-value and scarce S-band radio waves.

“This is a cover-up. This is not acceptable,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, noting that Planning Commission member B.K. Chaturvedi, who is in the two-member panel announced by the prime minister, was the cabinet secretary when the controversial agreement was approved.

“If a decision has to be investigated, can it be done by the same person who was part of the decision making process? It defeats the whole purpose of the exercise,” she said.

Sitharaman said the composition of the panel suggested that the government was trying to cover up its lapses.

The two-member panel will review the technical, commercial, procedural and financial aspects of the agreement between Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO and Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. The other member of the committee is Space Commission member and aerospace expert Roddam Narasimha.

Reports have alleged loss of government revenue in a contract entered into by Antrix Corporation — the commercial arm of ISRO — and Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd due to lease of space segment capacity which would use S-Band spectrum.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has indicated that the alleged deal between Antrix and Devas has caused the nation an estimated loss of Rs.2 lakh crore.

The government Tuesday denied that the nation suffered revenue losses in the allocation of space spectrum using S-band but admitted that the agreement between Antrix and Devas had not explicitly mentioned the end-use terms. Further, it said the agreement was being cancelled.

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