ISRO deal was a mistake: Antony

Thursday, February 17, 2011

NEW DELHI - The controversial spectrum deal between Antrix, the commercial arm of Indian space agency ISRO, and private firm Devas was a “mistake” that the government corrected, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Thursday.

“They (ISRO) committed a mistake, the government has corrected it,” Antony told reporters, shortly after the government scrapped the deal on the allocation of S-band spectrum, high value and scarce radio waves.

Antony said the defence ministry was not consulted on the deal that triggered a major controversy after the media, citing the government auditor’s findings, reported that the agreement for handing over 70 Mhz of S-Band spectrum to the private firm for Rs.1,000 crore had resulted in a loss of Rs.2 lakh crore to the nation.

“We (the defence ministry) were not consulted. The S-band is mainly for strategic forces in which our army, navy and the air force have a major stake because it is a precious asset for us,” he said.

The defence minister said the availability of S-band radio waves was “limited and it has to be given mainly for strategic aspects”.

“That is the first priority. It (the deal) was unfortunate,” he said.

The deal, finalised in 2005 without any competitive bidding, was under review for the past many days by the government and the space department before it was annulled Thursday.

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