Serving and retired ISRO chiefs are getting Y category security cover each at a cost of about Rs. 60 to 70 lakh per year. Their security cover, includes one car plus one escort car and this facility is being extended to them for life.
Former ISRO chiefs K. Kasturirangan, G. Madhavan Nair, K. Radhakrishnan, and A. S. Kiran Kumar are all in the same boat in terms of security cover. Shailesh Kumar, who was with earth sciences and headed ISRO for a short term this January, has got no security.
It is learnt that one of the the first things K. Sivan, the new ISRO chief, did after assuming office this January was that he shot a letter to the ministry of Home Affairs asking when he would be getting the Y category security cover, which he also promptly got. What needs explanation is that Ministry of Home Affairs is supposed to do a periodic review and reduce security cover from Y to X to zero but it is not happening.
In addition there are so many Center, Programme and Group heads – for example there are scientists doing more sensitive and security related operations like heading the Brahmos Programme – who really need this cover but never get it.
It is being pointed out in knowledgeable circles that “a day before taking over as ISRO chief there was no threat to Sivan’s life but everything changed the very day he took up the high profile assignment which mainly involves the task of placing satellites in orbit. On the other hand we have scientists doing more sensitive and secuirity related operations like heading the BRAHMOS programme but such scientists go without any security.”
On the issue of security to former ISRO chiefs the lid is off as one of them is now under the CBI net. The principal investigation agency of Government of India has registered an FIR against G Madhavan Nair, ex-Secretary, Department of Space and former Chairman ISRO along with others under Section 120-B r/w 420 of IPC and Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 & substantive offences for allegedly being party to a criminal conspiracy with an intent to cause undue gain to themselves or others by abusing official positions (by public servants) and causing loss to Antrix Corporation Ltd and ISRO by lease of INSAT Transponders capacity on GSAT 6 & 6A satellites to an accused Bangalore based Private Multimedia Company.
Investigation by CBI is continuing regarding issues of demand of S-Band frequencies by other users including Ministry of Defence for strategic purpose & DoT; DVB-SH Technology developed by ETSI and the affairs of USA based company, FDI received and funds transferred from the accounts of Bangalore based private company into the foreign accounts and offences under criminal breach of trust by public servants.
It is learnt that ISRO continues to foot the bill for the escort vehicles provided to Madhavan, who is an accused in the criminal conspiracy case linked to his tenure as ISRO chief.