When the news media broke the news of Antrix-Devas scam in the beginning of year 2011, the central Government, already under great pressure, because of 2G and Commonwealth games scams, moved swiftly and annulled the Antrix-Devas deal on 16th February and appointed two committees, the first headed by former Central Vigilance Commissioner, Pratyush Sinha and the second committee consisting of B.K. Chaturvedi and Roddam Narasimha, to investigate the matter. Both these committee’s have now presented their reports to the Government. Meanshile, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, also started its own investigation of the affair and has also now prepared it’s report on the matter. This report has not been yet made public, as it would be placed before the Parliament in March 2012. However a news media has already leaked the findings.
Let us see in brief, what these three investigators say about the Antrix-Devas scam. Pratyush Sinha team says that “ The deal reflects not only serious administrative and procedural lapses but also a suggestion of collusive behaviour on the part of certain individuals.” The report holds following persons responsible for various acts of commissions; Chairman of the Antrix Board and Secretary, Department of Space; Mr. G. Madhavan Nair; Director of the SATCOM office at ISRO; Mr. A.Bhaskaranarayana; Mr. K.R. Sridharamurthi, former Managing Director of Antrix, and Mr.K.N. Shankara, former director of the ISRO Satellite Centre. All these person are very senior Government officers and now stand barred from holding any official position. Sinha team also finds, responsible for the acts of omission, following persons; the former Member (Finance), Space Commission, S.S. Meenakshisundaram; and three former Additional Secretaries of the Department of Space, Veena S. Rao, G. Balachandhran and R.G. Nadadur. Sinha report also gives detailed examples of varius misdeeds by these persons such as concealing information, obfuscating facts and dissimulating cost calculations.
The Chaturvedi-Narasimha committee, holding most of above mentioned persons responsible, also points out that Antrix had signed an agreement with a company whose paid-up capital was Rs. 1 lakh with two shareholders. Antrix and the ISRO had committed an investment of about Rs. 800 crore on two satellites “with a lot of other unusual concessions.” Consequently, “the ISRO was committing large funds for unproven technology and with players, who had very little financial stake. Clearly, this was financially weak.
The Comptroller and Auditor General report (As reported by a news media) has severely indicted former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair and senior officials of Indian Space Research Organisation and Antrix Corporation for their role in the S-band deal with Devas Multimedia.
It should be very clear to anyone, that these senior Government had shown collusive behaviour in distorting and misreporting facts. Their intentions can be easily guessed. However it is up to an investigating agency to probe these matters.
In a recent judgment on 2 G scam, Honourable Supreme court of India has clarified that spectrum bandwidth also happens to be a natural resource and such resources are vested with the government as a matter of trust in the name of the people of India, and it is the solemn duty of the state to protect the national interest, and natural resources must always be used in the interests of the country and not private interests. The actions of these senior Government officers clearly shows that they had in mind something else except national interest of India.
In New Delhi’s bureaucratic jungles, it is always possible for a smart fellow to mislead others. It is being done more often these days, I think, because of the weakness of the Prime ministers office as a result of the Coalition Politics and his inability to take tough decisions.
6 February 2012