While the Department of Space has recommended to the Union Cabinet the termination of the deal between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia, the latter on Saturday claimed it was still to receive any formal communication regarding a review of the entire deal.
Emerging from the crucial Space Commission meeting, its head, K. Radhakrishnan, who is also Secretary, Department of Space, and Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation, told journalists the contract needed to be annulled given the requirement of S-band spectrum for strategic purposes.
The demand of the strategic sector for the scarce spectrum had increased five-fold over the last five years. Notably, if the deal is terminated, Antrix Corporation might have to pay penalties for delay in the delivery of the two satellites that ISRO was to launch as part of the deal, and the annual payment for the life of the satellite. Antrix is ISRO's commercial arm.
The issue will now be discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security. In July 2010, the Space Commission had decided to annul the agreement, signed between Antrix and Devas in January 2005. The Law Ministry had also favoured cancellation of the deal in the national interest.
But Devas Multimedia is not calling it quits. In a video interview put on the company's website and also on YouTube, its president and CEO Ramachandran Viswanathan claimed that despite all the controversy and the government's decision to review the deal, his company was still to get any official communication on the issue.
“We have still not been informed [about the review panel set up]…there has been no notification in respect of the contract either by Antrix or ISRO or by any other govt agency,” he said. “We were never formally informed about any concerns with regards to the Law Ministry or any other aspect [regarding the deal] that the government may have been contemplating despite regular dialogue we have been having with [the] seniormost levels [at ISRO and Antrix],” he added.
Mr. Viswanathan claimed that during the last six months, Devas had been in regular contact with senior ISRO and Antrix officials.
“As part of the contract, operational reviews of the progress of the construction of the satellite have been continuing for the last three years, including the last six months. I had last met ISRO Chairman a few months back… since then we have continued to meet senior executives of ISRO and Antrix.”
The Space Commission's decision to scrap the deal notwithstanding, periodic joint reviews by Devas, Antrix and ISRO to monitor the status of satellite and the contract were held even as recently as January 2011.
Devas also made presentations on its security and strategic applications to various Government of India agencies last month, Mr. Viswanathan added.