First panel to probe Devas-Antrix deal was set up in 2009

Government, Nair take different stands on committee findings

The ‘trouble’ that former Isro chairman Madhavan G Nair has repeatedly claimed to have started in 2009 was the launch pad the Department of Space (DoS) used to act against the annulled $300 million Antrix-Devas deal.

In line with Nair’s reference to the trouble––to the time K Radhakrishnan assumed office––the first action of the DoS was initiated on December 8, 2009 when a committee to look into the controversial deal, headed by B N Suresh, former member, Space Commission, was set up.

And the first direction to annul the contract between Bangalore-based Devas and Antrix, Isro’s commercial arm, was sent based on its recommendations as early as mid-2010, about eight months before it was actually scrapped.

However, both the government and Nair seem of different understanding on the committee’s findings, which have not been made public. Nair told Deccan Herald on Tuesday that the findings of B N Suresh report actually hailed the deal but did not elaborate. In an interview with the “Indian Express” in Delhi earlier this month, he had said: “The B N Suresh Committee, appointed by Isro Chairman K Radhakrishnan himself, has reported that the Antrix Devas deal is needed for the country from a technological point of view.”

“That committee has come out with a clear recommendation. This is a very unique technology for a country like ours, we need it and this is the right way of doing it and we should pursue that agreement to the full completion,’’ Nair told IE quoting the report.

However, the government has taken a completely different stand. Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) V Narayanasamy said that the committee was mandated to review and examine the legal, commercial, procedural and technical aspects of the agreement and its findings were considered by the Space Commission in July 2011 before directing the DoS to take up action to annul the Antrix Devas agreement.

It was only subsequent to this that the B K Chaturvedi-Roddam Narasimha-led high level committee was set up  on February 10, 2011 and the contract was annulled by end of the same month. Both Isro and B N Suresh refused to make comment on the matter.

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