A parliamentary panel will examine the controversial deal between Indian Space Research Organisation's commercial arm Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia, which the Union government cancelled last month.

The Committee on Estimates will examine the deal that was annulled after The Hindu/ Business Line exposé that the precious S-band spectrum was given to the Bangalore-based private company virtually for free.

Last month, the Centre cancelled the deal after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided not to give Antrix the S-band spectrum for commercial purposes in view of the strategic requirements.

Under the 2005 deal, Antrix was to provide 70 MHz of the S-band spectrum, valued at Rs.2 lakh crore, to Devas for its digital multimedia services. This was to be done by leasing out 90 per cent of the transponders on board satellites GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A, proposed to be launched by ISRO. In turn, Devas was to pay Antrix $300 million over 12 years.

Cabinet approval

Consequently, the Department of Space (DoS) got the Cabinet approval for building the GSAT-6 at a cost of Rs.269 crore and the GSAT-6A at a cost of Rs.147 crore. However, it was later found that the DoS did not refer to the fact that the satellites were to be utilised primarily for Devas' benefit.

When the matter came up before the Space Commission at a meeting on July 2, 2010, it asked the DoS to instruct Antrix to annul the contract on the ground that there was a tremendous increase in the demand for the space-based spectrum for strategic needs and social applications.

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