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PM backs Space Commission decision on Devas


New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday said the S-band spectrum deal between Indian space agency ISRO and private firm Devas was not operational and there was no question of diluting the Space Commission’s decision to annul it.

“There has been no effort in the PMO to dilute in any way the decision taken by the Space Commission on July 2 (2010 to cancel the deal), and on that I would like to assure you and the country,” the prime minister said at a press conference here.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has indicated that the deal between Antrix Corp, the commercial arm of the ISRO, and Devas caused the exechequer an estimated loss of Rs.2 lakh crore.

Manmohan Singh accepted that there had been a delay in processing of Space Commission recommendations.

“The delay in processing was only procedural. The fact is the contract is not operational in any practical sense and there was no question of diluting anyway the recommendations of the Space Commission,” he said.

He denied suggestions of backroom talks with Devas on the issue.

“There have been no backroom talks and I have not met anybody. The decision of the Space Commission to annul the deal was taken on July 2…

“The Space Commission took a number of decisions, of which the annulment of contract was one. The Department of Space Technology (DST) was asked to take action on all the five decisions that emerged from the meeting.

“The issue of how to annul the contract required consideration by legal experts and the law ministry was consulted.”

According to the prime minister, his office received the annulment details only in November 2010.

“At the most, between November and now I think the PMO got this note for the cabinet, decision has been taken now but it requires consultation.”

The prime minister said a number of letters were received by members of the Space Commission, including officials in the PMO, from Devas after August 2010 including as late as a few days ago.

“Letters were also received in the PMO from the US Chamber of Commerce but no action was taken on any of these letters. At no stage was the DST asked by the PMO to comment on the points made in these letters. They had no impact whatsoever on processing of the case.

“On the contrary, the PMO followed verbal reminders to DST by sending a letter to DST on October 2010 seeking its status on the follow up decision taken by the Space Commission in July 2010,” he said.

The prime minister said the agreement between ISRO and Devas was never implemented.

He said that all consultations were now almost over and a final decision will be taken by the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS).