Now, PMO says nothing wrong with Devas deal

The government has not come across any “irregularity” in the Antrix-Devas deal nor has the deal caused any loss to the government, the office of the Prime Minister, who is charge of Department of Space, told Parliament.

The statement has come despite a recommendation by the Cabinet to annul the $300 million deal.

Minister of state in charge of Parliamentary Affairs, the Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V Naryanasamy said in a written reply that no irregularity has been found in the allocation of spectrum by ISRO (Antrix) to Devas.

“There is no loss suffered by ISRO,” he said when asked how much was the loss that would have been caused by the Devas deal.

He said that the deal is being cancelled due to a Government decision to allocate S Band spectrum to defence forces, rather than due to any irregularities in the way the contract was signed.

The statement is in line with the explanation given by Devas and its former board member Kiran Karnik.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Karnik had accused the media of “complete — or wilful ignorance — of the vast differences in satellite and terrestrial uses of spectrum” in alleging that the deal caused a loss of Rs 2 lakh crore.

“In terms of processes this agreement went meticulously through every step: a technical assessment by Antrix/ISRO experts, approval by the Antrix Board, followed by space commission approval,” he said in the letter.

“If Cabinet approval was not sought for the deal (as reported in the media), the question is whether it was at all required and whether past transponder deals with private parties had gone through any such specific Cabinet approvals.

“The method — of leasing transponders at a fixed price — was no different than that followed for the many TV channels who had earlier sought capacity for broadcasting.

“There has never been a history of auctions by ISRO (nor by any global space agency). Satellite spectrum has always been treated differently from that on the ground, and the comparison is not just a case of apples and oranges, but two altogether different species,” he went on.