February 8, 2011

The specturm saga goes where it belongs: the skies

After two days of hot media and political debate whether the spectrum deal of ISRO/ Antrix with Devas is bigger than the 2G scam, Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, Secretary, Department of Space, held a press conference 'to clear the air', as the PIB officer told the reporters.

In the press conference [live at PIB site], the Secretary sought to claim that nothing wrong has been done, though he agreed that the fact of S band spectrum being offered to one company, that too without competitive bidding, was not explicitly told to the cabinet. He also said, the process of termination of the agreement with Devas is on, and it is taking time as the terms of cancellation are very 'complex'. To recall the case, it is said that ISRO/ Antrix gave away highly prized spectrum to Devas in the form of long lease, and it has caused about Rs 200,000 crore loss to the government. Fingers were also raised at the PM as he heads the Space Department.

Yesterday, the PMO issued a clarification saying: 'This office has seen reports alleging loss of Government revenue in a contract entered into by ANTRIX and Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. due to lease of space segment capacity which would use S Band Spectrum. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s office and the Department of Space have already issued statements stating the factual position on the matter. It is further clarified that no decision has been taken by the Government to allocate space segment using S-Band Spectrum to ANTRIX or Devas. Hence, the question of revenue loss does not arise and any such reports are without basis in fact.' 

We'll come to know more bits of the reality in a few days, and possibly the full picture months later. For now, despite BJP and Times Now raise the pitch, things are not too clear to conclusively call it a scam. But the thing called spectrum is becoming too hot to handle for this government.

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