New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) The government auditor has slammed the Department of Space for sealing the Antrix-Devas deal saying it was "a classic case of public investment for private profit".
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in a report tabled in parliament Tuesday, took the department to task for failing to explore the revenue potential of 70 MHz of S-Band spectrum earmarked for Devas for an infinite period.
"The Antrix-Devas deal is a classic instance of failure of the governance structure in which selected individuals, some serving and some retired public servants, were able to successfully propel the agenda of a private entity by arrogating unto themselves, powers which they were not legitimately authorised to exercise," said the CAG.
The deal between Indian Space Research Organisation's commercial arm Antrix and Devas Multimedia involved allotment of scarce S-band spectrum. The deal was scrapped in 2011 when reports surfaced that ISRO had sold the spectrum worth almost Rs.2 lakh crore for just Rs.1,000 crore.
The report said the department in its eagerness had "concealed facts from the Union Cabinet and violated numerous rules, policies and procedures".
"Public interest and those of the government were sacrificed to favour a private consultancy firm which was promoted by D. Venugopal and M.G. Chandrashekhar, retired employees of Isro."
The CAG also flayed G. Madhavan Nair for the alleged conflict of interest in the multiple roles exercised by the department's former secretary. This could have been avoided, it said, if different persons were appointed to crucial posts to ensure checks and balances.
The report said as chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Nair appointed the Shankara Committee to examine the proposals of M/s Forge Advisors and as Secretary, DoS, he submitted a note to the cabinet in which critical facts were concealed.
As chairman, Space Commission, he chaired meetings where approval to GSAT-6 and 6A satellites were accorded, it noted.
"He failed to convene INSAT Coordination Committee meetings as its Chairman, as a result of which concerns of key stakeholders, represented through respective Secretaries of Ministries/Departments, were effectively blocked off in the decision-making process," the CAG report said.
The government has barred Nair and three other ISRO scientists from holding government posts for their alleged role in the controversial Antrix-Devas deal after receiving the reports of two probe panels set up by it.