Devas ‘disturbed’ by PM’s statement on ISRO deal

Devas Multimedia, at the centre of a controversy over satellite transponder deals with the government, has hit out at the Prime Minister’s statement that the government was determined to end the contract.

The PM Manmohan Singh, speaking to editors in the capital, had said that there was no question of going ahead with the 2005 deal, despite pressure from foreign governments such as those of Germany and the US.

“We have grave concerns regarding the Government’s statement today on pre-meditated annulment of the Agreement, despite pending High Power Committee and CAG reviews which are still in the preliminary stages,” the firm said in a statement. “The Government’s unilateral decision without due investigative process and without following the principles of natural justice is disturbing and inappropriate,” it added.

Devas has maintained that it is paying well above market rates for the two satellites it is leasing from the Indian space agency.

It pointed out that the contract, inked in 2005, still stands and it has invested $165 million in the deal even as the space agency has delayed keeping its side of the deal by 2 years.

“The Contract has not been cancelled or annulled by the Government/DOS/ISRO/Antrix as of date and Devas has not elected to terminate the Agreement despite DOS/ISRO/Antrix being in material breach,” it pointed out.

“Devas expects the Government to fulfil all its obligations under the Agreement and will take strong, including legal, steps to protect the Company’s rights and interests,” it added.

The company also said that it noted the “increasing public awareness of the vested political and business interests in conjunction with certain media organizations that have been instrumental in bringing about an intentional gross misrepresentation of the facts of Devas-DOS/ISRO/Antrix satellite transponder capacity lease and tying it inappropriately to unrelated telecom spectrum issues for their own purposes.”

Sources within the firm have pointed a finger towards the telecom lobby, many of whom are wary of satellite operations gobbling up more and more spectrum over which they too stake claim. The Devas deal relates to 2.5 GHz band which can be used both for mobile purposes as well as for satellite use.