ISRO chief says in process of terminating S-band deal with Devas Multimedia

At a news conference last evening, K Radhakrishnan says neither was the department of space nor the Union Cabinet informed about the details of the contract

New Delhi: As political pressure mounts on prime minister Manmohan Singh with allegations of yet another spectrum scam, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that the process to terminate a suspect deal is underway.

The space agency had suggested that there was no financial loss to the government on account of the 2005 contract between its commercial arm, Antrix, and a private firm Devas Multimedia, set up by a former ISRO official for the use of scarce satellite-based communication spectrum, or S-band spectrum.
But at a news conference late last evening, ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan admitted that details about the contract that gave Devas the rights to 90% usage of transponders on two satellites, were not shared with the Organisation or the Union Cabinet, reports PTI.

"One point that was not explicitly mentioned (to the Union Cabinet) was that GSAT 6 and GSAT 6A satellites are going to be predominantly used for this novel and commercial application that Antrix had entered into with M/s Devas," Mr Radhakrishnan said.

Newspapers reported yesterday that ISRO is being investigated by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for leasing of transponders on ISRO satellites to Devas Multimedia. The leases granted it access to telecom spectrum without a bidding process, the media reports said.

S-band spectrum can provide broadband internet services in a rapidly-expanding Indian mobile phone market. On the basis of other market deals, a total of $44 billion would have been disbursed had all spectrum allocated to Devas been sold at those prices, according to the media reports.

The ISRO conference came after a statement from the prime minister's office (PMO) denying media reports that Devas was allotted 70 MHz of spectrum for Rs 1,000 crore. The statement said that no decision had been taken and therefore charges of revenue loss of a whopping Rs2 lakh crore were without basis.

But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remained unconvinced and described the clarification from the PMO as meaningless. The principal opposition party said there were important questions that the prime minister must explain to the nation.

"It is self evident that Manmohan Singh is leading a regime that is the most corrupt after independence...yet it is claimed that he is Mr Clean," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Subsequently, the ISRO chief clarified that neither spectrum nor transponders or satellites were given to Devas or Antrix so far. "The question of revenue loss incurred does not arise," said Mr Radhakrishnan, who was accompanied by former ISRO chief and member of the Planning Commission K Kasturirangan.

He said the process of review of the contract was initiated on 8 December 2009 and soon "we are expecting to complete it".

"In December 2009, I instituted a committee with a former member of the Space Commission for a comprehensive review of all matters," Mr Radhakrishnan said, after describing the genesis of the review process.



Mathew George

6 years ago

It is evident that Mr.Madhavan Nair is directly involved in this S-band scam. Immediately arrest him otherwise he will destroy evidences.

Domestic car sales up 26%, bikes up 15% in January: SIAM

Total sales of vehicles across categories registered a growth of 18.69% to 13,22,979 units in January as against 11,14,692 units in the same month last year, according to SIAM data

New Delhi: Domestic passenger car sales jumped by 26.28% to 1,84,332 units in January, 2011, from 1,45,971 units in the same month last year, reports PTI.

According to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) today, motorcycle sales in the country grew by 14.94% during the month to 7,47,818 units from 6,50,633 units in the same month last year.

Total two-wheeler sales in January increased by 17.55% to 9,80,752 units from 8,34,343 units in January, 2010.

Sales of commercial vehicles jumped by 12.58% to 60,753 units from 53,963 units in the year-ago period, SIAM said.

Total sales of vehicles across categories registered a growth of 18.69% to 13,22,979 units in January as against 11,14,692 units in the same month last year, it added.


DB Realty boss, Balwa, arrested by CBI in telecoms scam

Balwa is to be questioned together with former telecoms minister A Raja in New Delhi

Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the managing director of DB Realty Shahid Usman Balwa last night in connection with the telecoms scandal that has hurt the government.

The CBI said Mr Balwa, who is also vice-chairman of Etisalat DB, the telecoms joint venture between the Abu Dhabi company and DB Group, was arrested from his residence in Bandra, in suburban Mumbai. The CBI said that he will be taken to New Delhi for questioning along with former telecom minister A Raja, who is already in CBI custody.

Mr Balwa's arrest comes just two days before the 2G case will be heard again in the Supreme Court. He will be produced before a magistrate in New Delhi today.

The DB Realty stock was down about 20% in morning trade today on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

DB Realty floated Swan Telecom, which allegedly was helped by Mr Raja to get 2G licences in 13 circles, including Mumbai and Delhi, for Rs1,537 crore. Within months of getting the spectrum, Swan sold 45% of its shares to UAE telecom giant Etisalat for about Rs4,500 crore.

CBI sources say they have evidence from the income-tax department of Mr Balwa channelling bribes paid to the former telecom minister to secure 2G spectrum. He is also said to have helped Mr Raja park the money in the real estate business.

Mr Balwa is the fourth person to be arrested in the telecoms scam case after Mr Raja, his former personal secretary RK Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura.

Mr Chandolia and Mr Behura were yesterday remanded to judicial custody on the completion of their interrogation by the CBI.

Last week, the CBI accused Swan, which has since been renamed Etisalat DB, and Unitech of buying mobile licences at unfairly cheap prices. Unitech's joint venture Unitech Wireless is majority held by Norway's Telenor.

Unitech last week denied that it had received any favours and said it had complied with rules, while Telenor said it had no reason to believe the licences were issued improperly.

Shares in Unitech, the country's second-largest listed realty company, also fell more than 8% in morning trade today.


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