Ministers seek details on ISRO deal at Cabinet meeting

Singh called in ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space K Radhakrishnan to brief the Cabinet on the agreement Antrix had signed with Devas Multimedia, a private company floated by former ISRO officials.

Radhakrishnan circulated a two-page note among the ministers on the agreement with Devas which the Space Commission had, in July last year, recommended be annulled.

The Prime Minister also informed the Cabinet that he had set up a two-member Committee of B K Chaturvedi and Roddam Narsimha to review various aspects of the controversial agreement which media reports claimed could cause a loss of Rs two lakh crore to the national exchequer.

A few ministers wanted to know the need for the deal with Devas and the purpose it would serve. At this point it was decided to wait till the High Power Committee submits its report.

At the Cabinet briefing when asked about the Antrix deal, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said the issue was discussed after the meeting and a two-member committee has been asked to submit a report within a month.

When pointed out that Chaturvedi was Cabinet Secretary when the deal was signed, Soni said she was not in a position to comment but added that "he would know how and why it happened. An individual can assess the situation rising above a particular post, unless you are a beneficiary."

The Committee has been asked to review the technical, commercial, procedural and financial aspects of the agreement.

The Committee would review the adequacy of procedures and approval processes followed by Antrix, ISRO and Department of Space, and suggest improvements and changes.

Media reports had stated that the Department of Space had allocated 70 MHz of S-Band spectrum to Devas Multimedia for Rs 1,000 crore. The actual value of this was estimated to be around Rs 2 lakh crore, the reports claimed.

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