Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Raja's office hits at predecessors over spectrum

Former Telecom Minister A Raja's office today hit at his predecessors including Dayanidhi Maran and Arun Shourie for alloting 150 Mhz of additional spectrum beyond 4.4 Mhz, and up to 6.2 Mhz without any upfront charge.

"What is the value of 150 Mhz today?" asked the document, that was prepared to be distributed among the Members of Parliament today.

Titled "Kissa Spectrum Ka", the document says that another 90 Mhz of spectrum was distributed among the handful of operators beyond 6.2 Mhz again without any upfront charges, thereby benefiting the private players at the cost of public exchequer.


On the contrary, Raja, who resigned yesterday from the Council of Ministers, followed the same policy as followed by his predecessors. Raja allotted only 12.6 Mhz of additional spectrum among the operators and that too with a condition that the government would levy an upfront charge on it.

In its latest report, the government auditor CAG has quantified revenue loss to the exchequer on account of allotment of additional spectrum at over Rs 36,700 crore.
Terming it a true story, it documents how BJP ministers Arun Shourie and late Pramod Mahajan gave away scarce spectrum and how it was quietly siphoned away well before 2007 and Raja's tenure.

"It is a story of manipulation, convenient decisions, hastily convened meetings, contravention of procedures and systems," the document said. Hitting at Shourie, former telecom minister in NDA regime, the document said "to benefit the operators, DoT allotted spectrum in 900 Mhz band during 2002-03 beyond 6.2 Mhz, contrary to their own order of February 2002 that additional spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz would be allotted in 1800 Mhz band."

It may be noted that 900 Mhz band is much more efficient than 1,800-Mhz band and require much less capital expenditure. The spectrum controversy erupted after Raja issued new licences in January 2008 at 2001 prices of Rs 1,651 crore for pan India operations.

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