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Ex-ISRO chief Nair says Pratyush Sinha Report does not reveal facts accurately

New Delhi, Sun, 05 Feb 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Feb.5 (ANI): Former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief G. Madhavan Nair on Sunday said the ISRO committee's report on the Antrix-Devas deal was one-sided and had not brought out facts accurately.


"They have looked only at the papers and the answers to the questions. If they had seen some omissions, they should have sought clarifications. I will ask for the full report," Nair said a day after the committee headed by former chief vigilance commissioner Pratyush Sinha released its report on the Antrix-Devas deal.


"Speaking is not inquiry. The committee has not met many times to make the report. The report does not bring out the facts. The people who have made the report seems to have not understood the issues and mechanism. Sad that bits and pieces of report are being put out like this and not the whole report," he added.


The ISRO committee report has indicted Nair and three other senior scientists, who were barred from holding any government posts, for acts of commission in Antrix-Devas deal.


The report prepared by a committee headed by Pratyush Sinha, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner, said Antrix-Devas deal lacked transparency and recommended that action needs to be taken against Nair, A Bhaskaranarayana, KR Sridhara Murthi and K N Shankara all of whom have retired.


Nair said, "The committee does not understand space business. I'll wait and then decide what needs to be done. The statements in public domain are highly distorted. The full reports should be out to make any conclusion. What is in public domain shows the report is one sided. There is no such statement that speaks of specific violations."


He also said that the deal was not inked to provide profit to Devas.


"The return to government was a respectable business. Our responsibility was to get a new technology in the country. We were in the regime of embargo at the time of the deal. At that time this was the only group left to move forward on the agreement. It was a declared policy of the government to go out and expand in the field of space," Nair said.


Antrix is the commercial arm of ISRO and Devas is a private firm.


The five-member committee set up to examine the deal and identify the acts of omission and commission by government officials, said in its report made that "...there have not only been serious administrative and procedural lapses but also suggestion of collusive behaviour on the part of certain individuals and accordingly, responsibilities have to be fixed for taking action".


The Pratyush Sinha committee, set up on May 31 last year, said choosing Devas for the deal "seemed to have lacked in transparency and due diligence".


It said "the approval process (for the deal) was riddled with incomplete and inaccurate information given to the union cabinet and the Space Commission". While the Antrix-Devas agreement was signed on January, 28, 2005, "this fact was not disclosed to the Space Commission or in the Cabinet note dated November 27, 2005, in which approval was sought for the launch of GSAT 6, one of the satellites to be build under the agreement".


The report said the terms of Antrix-Devas contract "were heavily loaded in favour of Devas". It pointed out that terms of the agreement entail that while in the case of the failure of the satellite, the risk was entirely that of Department of Space, the success of the satellite would commit the latter to substantial expenditure".


Secondly, it said "it is surprising that for the purpose of arbitration Devas has been considered an international customer even though its registered address in the contract is shown as in Bangalore".


The report also noted that no clearance was obtained from the legal cells of the Department of Space and the Finance Ministry for Antrix-Devas deal, as is mandatory for any international agreement by any department of Indian government. The report also said GSAT capacity was earmarked for Devas without consulting INSAT Corporation Committee (ICC), which recommends use of satellite capacities by non-government users authorized to provide telecom services, which is a "clear violation of the government policy".


The committee report said "there is evidence to suggest that the Antrix-Devas agreement was not disclosed to Technical Advisory Group (TAG) at the time of considering the experimental trials".


There is no indication of any attempt to identify other possible partners for providing the same service even though similar services were available in some other countries, said the report.


"Although SATCOM policy and ICC guidelines allow leasing of satellite capacity on first-come-first-served basis, this did not prevent Antrix-ISRO from following a transparent process of adequately publicising its intent of supporting such services..." it said.


"In the absence of such a declaration of intent, choosing Devas seems to be lacking in transparency and due diligence", added the report. (ANI)


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