New Delhi: Telecom operators and tower companies today came out together to oppose TEMA's suggestion of levying a one-time tax on telecom towers for using subsidised diesel, saying it was "misleading, uncalled for, and devoid of any merit".
Telecom Equipment Manufacturers' Association of India (TEMA) had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh alleging that telecom towers were guzzling up to Rs 4,300-crore worth of subsidised diesel every year, which was meant for the rural poor, farmers and bulk transport systems.
"It is quite unfortunate that TEMA is trying to sensationalise the issue in a highly irresponsible and mischievous manner and the statements made by TEMA are misleading, uncalled for, and devoid of any merit," COAI, AUSPI and TAIPI said in a statement.
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) represents the GSM operators, while Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) represents the interests of CDMA operators. Towers and Infrastructure Providers' Association (TAIPA) is a body of tower companies.
TEMA, on the other hand, represents telecom technology providers.
When contacted, TEMA Honorary Director-General Ashok K Aggarwal said the body had "stated true facts".
"The important question is whether companies should be allowed to use subsidies meant for poor people," he added.
TEMA said the levy of a one-time tax would create another source of finance for the exchequer and ensure that service operators and tower firms start adopting power-efficient infrastructure operating on greener source of energy much faster.
The groups representing telecom operators and tower it said TEMA is "unnecessarily trying to imply that telecom operators pursue subsidies and profits relentlessly, which is not the case".
"On the contrary, the telecom industry recognises the importance of evolving cleaner alternatives to diesel and has started widely using solar panels and wind energy applications and continues to do so," it said.
First Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 21:40