New Delhi: The Prime Minister`s Office has received over 80 letters from former and sitting Members of Parliament regarding their concerns and suggestions on the telecom sector, including 2G licences distributed in 2008.
Out of the total 84 letters, 21 were sent in both 2008 and 2010, 18 in 2007, nine in 2009, two in 2006 and 13 between January and April this year, an RTI query reveals.
The letters were written by parliamentarians across party lines, including former Congress Party MP Surendra Prakash Goyal, Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Independent), Murli Manohar Joshi (BJP), Amar Singh (formerly with Samajwadi Party), Sitaram
Yechury (CPM) and Minister of State for Planning Ashwani Kumar, among others.
The list excluded inter-ministerial correspondence with the Prime Minister.
Joshi, in his letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on December 02, 2007, had expressed concerns related to security and bias favouring few private telecom firms while distributing spectrum.
"I need not impress upon you that the advancements in information communication technology (ICT) require a very careful and alert watch on the security problems, both internal and external... The expansion of such investments may jeopardise our national security interests," Joshi had said.
The distribution of 2G licences in 2008 at below market prices has snowballed into a major controversy due to alleged irregularities in the process.
The RTI was filed by advocate Vivek Gard.
As many as 122 licenses were given in January 2008 to about nine companies at a price discovered in 2001 by former telecom minister A Raja, now in Tihar Jail for his alleged involvement in the scam, which is being probed now.
Rajya Sabha Member Amar Singh, now an accused in the cash-for-votes scam, had raised the issue of extra spectrum held by old GSM operators without paying any price in a letter to the PMO written on November 17, 2008.
He had asserted that the government can raise additional revenue of over Rs 60,000 crore from the telecom sector on the basis of market-discovered price for spectrum held by operators free of cost beyond the contracted limit of 6.2 Mhz.
"I urge the government to not succumb to the pressure of the dominant private Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) operators by adopting lenient and inappropriate spectrum pricing...”
"Price spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz based on minimum Rs 2,200 crore per MHz and up to Rs 8,000 crore per MHz on the market valuation....," Singh had said.
Separately, BJP MP Jai Prakash Narayan Singh had written to the PMO on November 05, 2009, saying, "The spectrum allocation issue needs to be investigated further and deeper right from the beginning as to how and when the spectrum was allocated and on what basis and why no charge was taken for the additional allocation of spectrum beyond what was mandated in the licence of the private operators."
In a recent letter written on April 30 this year, Kumar had informed the Prime Minister about his statement issued to the media on the working of the Public Accounts Committee going into the issue and citing indecent haste by its chief in concluding the final report on 2G.
"The indecent haste with which Dr Murli Manohar Joshi had sought to push for the adoption (of) the draft report of the PAC despite strong and persistent reservations expressed by a majority of the members has done incalculable damage to established parliamentary conventions," the statement issued by the MoS and attached with the letter written to Singh had said.
The alleged irregularities in the 2G issue are being probed in court. Besides Raja, the CBI has arrested two of his aides, RK Chandolia and Siddhartha Behura, for their alleged involvement.
DMK MP Kanimozhi, DMK-run Kalaignar TV`s MD Sharad Kumar, Bollywood Filmmaker Karim Morani and Reliance ADAG executives Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara are also accused in the scam.
The other accused include Unitech Ltd managing director Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka and directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal.