Spectrum issue haunts Raja’s predecessors
The telecom ministry on Sunday said only 12.6 Mhz of additional spectrum was given to the existing operators by the incumbent minister A Raja.
New Delhi: The telecom ministry on Sunday said only 12.6 Mhz of additional spectrum was given to the existing operators by the incumbent minister A Raja but his move to seek additional revenue from them was challenged by the leading service providers.
Releasing a document, the ministry said that Raja`s three predecessors (Dayanidhi Maran, Arun Shourie and late Pramod Mahajan) distributed 65.2 Mhz without any upfront charge and without auctioning spectrum (radio waves).
The document comes in the wake of alleged criticism by the government auditor CAG that the allocation of additional spectrum so far (by all the minister since 1999) has caused a revenue loss of over Rs 36,700 crore to the exchequer.
The government auditor CAG has estimated presumptive exchequer loss of Rs 36,729 crore for allocating spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz.
Raja`s efforts to enhance spectrum usage charge have been ineffective as leading telecom firms have challenged the order and the case is pending in the Supreme Court.
Among three predecessors of A Raja, Dayanidhi Maran (DMK) during UPA-I regime distributed maximum 38.8 Mhz of 2G spectrum among the existing operators followed by Arun Shourie giving away 21 Mhz in the NDA regime.
"It was for the first time that additional spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz was given with a rider that charges will be levied as determined by the government, thus causing no loss of revenue to the exchequer," telecom ministry officials said.
They said that most of the new applications during most of the period, prior to Raja`s tenure, were kept pending as there was no spectrum available.
Even former telecom secretary DS Mathur said on Saturday that he had told the minister there was not enough spectrum to accommodate too many applicants.
He, however, wondered as to how the minister (Raja) had managed to give spectrum to as many as 121 licensees within few months of issuing licences to them in January 2008.
The minister had earlier claimed that his action of inviting new players led to increase in competition, which was opposed by strong telecom cartel, to bring down tariffs and
increase telecom penetration.
According to the document, late Pramod Mahajan, another
telecom minister during the BJP-led NDA regime, also gave 5.4 Mhz of spectrum to the existing operators.