Tag Archives: Antrix Devas

NSIL is in a state of drift: Will the PMO take note and act?

Lalit Shastri

The newly created New Space India Ltd (NSIL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under
Department of Space, seems to be drifting like a stricken satellite in outer space.
It is more than two years since this new outfit was created with a vision to provide space-related products and
services flowing or emanating from the Indian Space Programme to global customers and to spur the growth of Indian Industry in undertaking technologically challenging
space-related activities.

NSIL has been set up to function as a nodal agency for carrying out PSLV production through Indian Industry under the consortium route. The industry consortium will be responsible for producing, assembling and integrating the launch vehicle, by making use of the existing ISRO facilities under GOCO model.

NSIL also has the mandate to provide transponder capacity in C, Ku, Ka and S band on INSAT / GSAT fleet of satellite to Indian users for various SATCOM based broadcasting and telecom services like DTH, TV, DSNG, VSAT, etc. NSIL is also mandated to provide Remote Sensing Services and Mission Support Services to the global users.

NSIL charter includes, catering to emerging global small satellite launch service market by opening the avenues for the development and manufacture of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) through Indian Industry partners.

NSIL, with technical support of ISRO, is also supposed to create a fully functional ecosystem in India for building satellite systems, subsystems and ground infrastructure by engaging the private and corporate sector

Ten ISRO communication satellites owned by the President of India have already been transferred to NSIL and around 800 crores of business has been generated by transferring all new transponder leases to it. Still, the Department of Space has not deemed it fit to give this company a regular Board. All that it has are a few government directors from ISRO and DoS sitting on its Board and a Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) – nominated by the Chairman ISRO and approved by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). When fully constituted, NSIL Board is supposed to comprise of 9 Directors. Apart from the CMD, 2 Government (nominee) Directors and 2 ISRO (nominee) Directors, it should also have Director Finance and 3 Independent Directors.

NSIL is a Schedule A category company under DoS and rightfully it should have got a CMD appointed through the Public Enterprises Selection Board but ISRO still acts as if this company can be run the way Antrix Corporation was run.

It is doubtful whether or not NSIL has an MOU with the Department of Public Enterprises like other PSU’s and it definitely has no Board level committee to oversee contracts, corporate governance, finance etc and left to drift this way without proper superintendence and accountability, another Antrix Devas like scam will not be far away. Will the PMO take note and act?

Check: Antrix Devas scam and more

Vested interests batting for compensation in the Antrix-Devas case

Antrix-Devas Agreement, national security and CBI

CBI files chargesheet against former Secretary of Space and ED of Antrix Corporation

CBI registers case in the huge Antrix-Devas scam

NCLT admits petition for winding up of Devas

GoI orders winding up of Devas after a US Court had ordered payment of $1.2 billion compensation

Antrix-Devas case and PCA: BIPA with Mauritius needs to be relooked at

Process is on to offer Ka-band services without auction: Is it a backdoor deal?

Process is on to offer Ka-band services without auction: Is it a backdoor deal?

Lalit Shastri

A few weeks ago an innocuous notice appeared on the ISRO/Department of Space Website. The notice referred to an application dated 1 July 2016 filed by one Jupiter Satellite India Limited for securing an Indian orbital slot at 104 degrees East longitude to provide Ka-band services for broadband beams covering the Indian mainland and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The notice was put out by CAISS, the Committee for Administration of the Indian Satellite System. To the uninitiated, the notice makes no sense but if one delves deeper it is the making of another Antrix-Devas¹.

Newsroom24x7 did some research. Some years back when the SATCOM Policy (Satellite Communication Policy) was formulated by the Government, it incidentally was not put on ISRO’s website till recently. Under the policy, an operator can set up an Indian satellite system on fulfilling certain conditions. Once a satellite is procured or launched whether from India or abroad, the control station has to be brought inside India within a year and they are subject to Department of Telecom and Ministry Information and Broadcasting norms and control. The orbital slot if procured from another sovereign country has to be transferred to the Indian administration. The operator would thereafter pay royalty and other fees to the Government of India.

It is to be noted that orbital slots are allotted by International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to countries and not companies. ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs. This body allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits. Now here lies the catch. The orbital slot has been applied by India which has priority. In many countries, the orbital slots are auctioned off to satellite operators for a finite period to operate their services. In the case of Jupiter, a company registered with the Registrar of Companies in India, the matter has been hanging before 2016 and its application had been rejected by the Government.

Ka-band is a new band opening for high speed Internet services and ISRO plans to put in orbit the GSAT 11 which has developed a glitch before launch from Kourou, French Guiana. The already launched GSAT 19 is still to get its gateways and ground stations in place. This part of the business is highly lucrative and in Jupiter’s favour as they have their systems ready though the launch and operationalisation is perhaps a few years away.

According to available information, a procession of bureaucrats, technocrats and ex-chairmen of ISRO did not touch  application in question even with a barge pole. Jupiter, which has links with Hughes of the USA, then began lobbying and there was tremendous pressure from officials in Department of Telecom and at other places to grant the approval. After initiating the process for according in-principle approval, the application has been put on the website for objections. The Prime Minister perhaps was never apprised of this issue. In the Antrix-Devas deal an orbital slot in S-band was given in the most opaque manner. The latest oblique move smacks of the same reasoning. An expression of interest should have been first put out enumerating the available slots followed by an auction as decreed by the Supreme Court. Otherwise, it smacks of a back-door deal. Will the PMO please take note and have this  matter examined independently threadbare?

¹ Antrix Corporation Limited is a Public Sector Undertaking and is an arm of the Department of Space, Government of India. It had entered into a commercial contract on January 28, 2005 with Devas Multi Media Private Limited for lifetime lease of 90 per cent capacity of S Band Transponder of 2 satellites, built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) [GSAT – 6 and 6A]. However, after the signing of the agreement, it was realised by the Government of India that the Antrix–Devas lease agreement on GSAT-6 and 6A would take away most of the total S band spectrum available and subsequently the CBI after conducting an investigation registered an FIR in the Antrix-Devas scam.

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