Company writes to Manmohan seeking meeting; claims backing of U.S. diplomats

Bangalore: In an effort to salvage a deal that has run into rough weather, Devas Multimedia has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that it is willing to face a review of the lease agreement with Antrix Corporation. The Bangalore-based company has also sought a meeting with him to clarify its position.

The letter comes ahead of a crucial meeting of the Space Commission on Saturday that is expected to determine the fate of the 2005 agreement between Devas and Antrix.

“Representatives of the Devas Board and Investors request an urgent meeting with you to discuss the Devas-ISRO G-SAT-6 and 6A project and provide any clarifications. We are ready for any review that you may wish to have on the company and on the agreement,” the letter said. Indicating that the government knew all along about the nature of the agreement, the company said the Space Commission, whose members include the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, had been briefed about the “importance of the Devas-Antrix agreement.” Devas had written twice to the then Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Prithviraj Chavan, in September and October 2010.

The letter reveals that a number of international diplomats, including the then U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, had batted for Devas at different points in time during its discussions with the government. “The concerns of our U.S. investors were also highlighted to Government of India officials by U.S. State Department delegations and in communications from some of Devas' advisers including former U.S. Secretary of State Ms. Madeleine Albright, former U.S. National Security Advisor Mr. Sandy Berger and the Chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Mr. Thomas Donohue Sr.”

The company added that Edward Kozel, a member of the management board of Deutsche Telekom, had earlier expressed concerns to Mr. Chavan over the delay in the project going through.

Friday's five-page note follows an investigative report on Monday by The Hindu and Business Line exposing the implications of the deal between Antrix and Devas signed in 2005, and a media furore that followed it.

More In: National | News