The department of space (DoS) is reviving a mechanism to supervise allocation of satellites and transponders for different uses in a direct outcome of the controversy over alleged irregularities in a deal with multimedia firm Devas.
The DoS, which comes under the Prime Minister, has in recent days faced criticism for ignoring the INSAT coordination committee (ICC) in offering two satellites almost exclusively to Devas to broadcast its multimedia products.
The ICC — which consists of secretaries from several concerned ministries including telecommunications, finance and information and broadcasting — will be revived to ensure that the government does not face a repeat of the Devas controversy, senior government sources said.
The Space Commission had instructed the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) at a July 2, 2010 meeting to “revive the INSAT Coordination Committee mechanism.” The Space Commission had at the same meeting instructed Isro to annul the 2005 deal between Antrix — the commercial arm of Isro — and Devas.
Under the deal, 90% of two proposed INSAT satellites —GSAT 6 and GSAT 6-A — were to be used by Devas for its commercial purposes. “The ICC has not been disbanded but has not met for quite some time. A meeting will now be called,” Isro spokesperson S Satish said, in response to a question.
The ICC was set up in 1983 to monitor the INSAT programme, and has traditionally decided on how to utilise satellites and their transponders. The Isro usually strikes deals with private firms based on the provisions made by the ICC. This practice was however not followed in the Devas deal.
“There is a feeling within the government that had the ICC mechanism been followed scrupulously, the potential landmines in the Devas deal would have been spotted earlier and the controversy could have been avoided,” an official said.