Spectrum will be sold only through auction: Pilot

The Indian government has decided that  spectrum (radio waves) would hereafter be sold only through auction and not on first-come-first-serve basis, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Sachin Pilot said here Monday.

“We are going to sell spectrum only through auction and not on first-come-first-serve basis anymore. There will be an open bidding  to get fair price for spectrum, be it terrestrial or space-based,” Pilot told IANS on the margins of a conference here.

Declining to comment on the raging controversy over the indictment of the country’s four senior space scientists by the high-level team over their questionable role in the Antrix-Devas spectrum deal, Pilot said the government has evolved a fair-market determinant mechanism for auctioning spectrum (radio waves) hereafter.

“There will be an open bidding for national assets. Be it spectrum or licences to cellular operators. There is a separate mechanism for each of them though no decision has been taken yet on auctioning of the S-band spectrum," Pilot said after inaugurating the seventh edition of the Indian Semiconductors Association (ISA) summit.

A five-member high-level team headed by former Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) Prityush Sinha held former chairman of the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) G. Madhavan Nair and three other scientists responsible for irregularities in the $300-million contract the space agency’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation signed with Devas Multimedia Services in January 2005.

The other space scientists are former scientific secretary A. Bhaskarnarayana, ISRO’s former satellite centre director K.N. Shankara and former Antrix Corporation executive director K.R. Sridharamurthi.

The government scrapped the Antrix-Devas deal in February 2011 after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) estimated a revenue loss of Rs.2 lakh crore (Rs.2 trillion) to the exchequer if the operator (Devas) was allowed to use the allotted 70 MHz of the scarce S-band spectrum for digital services using ISRO’s transponders from its proposed GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A satellites.

The Prime Minister, who is also in-charge of the Department of Space, had set up the Sinha panel May 31, 2011, to study the report of the two-member high-powered committee headed by former cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi and Space Commission member Roddam Narasimha and fix responsibility for the alleged violation of norms in the spectrum deal.

ISRO late Saturday uploaded on its website the Chaturvedi report in full, while partially releasing only the conclusions and recommendations of the Sinha team report.

On the basis of the Sinha team’s recommendations, the government Jan 13 also debarred the four tainted scientists from holding any official post.

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