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Probe panel findings nailed the 4 scientists

delhi Updated: Jan 26, 2012 01:23 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times
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The government's decision to bar four of India's well-known scientists from being hired for government projects again was based on several irregularities found valid by two top investigation panels.

One of the panel has now recommended that different individuals should head the critical wings of space operations -Antrix, Isro and department of space - instead of the current practice where the same individual gets to head all three.

The charges relate to a 2005 deal to sell satellite space or "radiowaves" to a private firm Devas by state-owned Antrix, in violation of rules, such a failure to set up a proper bid.

A failure to seek the highest bid for satellite space or S-band airwaves, crucial for wireless broadband and other data services, may have cost the state crores of rupees in potential revenue.

The Antrix-Devas deal was revoked in February 2011, after the government discovered several irregularities. Antrix is the commercial arm of Isro, while Deutsche Telekom is an investor in the privately held Devas.

The Prime Minister, who oversees the department of space, had first set up a high-powered review committee on Feb 10, 2011, following it up with a high-level team

headed by former chief vigilance commissioner Pratyush Sinha on May 31 2011. Both went into the details of the controversial deal.

The main findings, according to sources, relate to how transparency norms were violated. It has been found that former Isro chief, G Madhavan Nair, and his team sought to put satellites into space purely for private commercial use, a fact not revealed to the Cabinet when the deal was brought before it for approval.

Moreover, the space regulator - Space Commission - was not kept in the loop, it was found. The most flagrant violation relates to bypassing of bidding norms.