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Updated: October 20, 2013 19:08 IST

2G issue: Manmohan consults senior Ministers

PTI
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Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal come out of the Prime Minister's residence after a meeting on the 2G issue on Saturday.
PTI Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal come out of the Prime Minister's residence after a meeting on the 2G issue on Saturday.

Days after the Supreme Court cancelled 122 licences for 2G spectrum, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday held consultations with senior Cabinet colleagues on its impact on the overall telecom sector and the way forward.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Paranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and Law Minister Salman Khursheed. Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati and Telecom Secretary R. Chandrashekhar were also present.

“This meeting was to inform senior Ministers as to what are the implications and ramifications of the judgment. This group was not meant to take any decision,” Mr. Sibal told journalists later.

Mr. Chandrashekhar apprised the meeting about the finer points of the judgment and its impact on the telecom sector, amidst fears that the foreign direct investment flow could be affected.

The Telecom Secretary gave a “full presentation on what the judgment is about, what it means and when we move forward,” Mr. Sibal said.

“Ultimately all the matters have to go to the Cabinet, so the government has to be informed before that in order to take a decision,” the Telecom Minister added.

The meeting also reportedly deliberated upon the auction, which is to be carried out for nearly 546 mhz of 2G spectrum vacated by nine telecom operators.

In this context, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has floated a pre-consultation paper seeking comments from stakeholders on guidelines for spectrum auction, as directed by the Supreme Court.

The situation has become difficult with some foreign operators such as Norwegian Telenor and Russian Sistema, whose licences have been cancelled, are putting pressure on the government, asking it to safeguard their investments.

Telenor, a majority shareholder in Uninor, claims to have invested over Rs. 14,000 crore in Indian operations while Sistema, a majority joint venture partner in Shyam-Sistema, has pumped in over $2.5 billion (about Rs. 12,000 crore).

Auction

Both are likely to participate in the coming auction of 2G spectrum to continue their operations and secure investments.

Last week, the Supreme Court cancelled 122 2G licences granted during the tenure of Telecom Minister A. Raja, declaring it “illegal” and blamed the government's flawed first-come-first-served policy.

According to sources, the Telecom Ministry is likely to send, within a week, letters to new operators for termination of their licences. This was discussed in the Department of Telecom's internal meeting to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court order and way forward in this regard.

The members discussed various issues, including sending communication to licensees for termination of licence agreement, refund of licence fee in respect of 85 licences who were declared ineligible, and similarly for the remaining 37 licences.

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Mobile Telephony has tremendously helped India to leap forward and
bridge the Telecom / Communication gap with the developed world and it
must be treated with utmost care. Given that technically 2G is rather
outdated technology, the government will do well to focus on 3 or 4G LTE
solutions that are flooding global mobile market place. Besides, this
time both the general public and the judicial branch will watch them
perform so closely.

from:  Krishnan iyer
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 12:11 IST

The problem faced today by the Supreme Court verdict would not have been arisen if the Prime Minister and Finance Minster had taken timely action when they found that the then Telecom Minister was going wrong. In a coalition Ministry the Prime Minister has to be strong taking timely decision in the case of erring Ministers. Raja is coolly sitting in the jail without even filing bail application as probably he feels that jail is the safe place for him. We may have to compromise with the demands of foreign companies to certain extent in order to keep the image that India is a foreign investment friendly nation.

from:  Dr.C.K. George
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 07:30 IST

This group was not meant to take any decision,” Mr. Sibal told reporters later.
=> I understand Mr.Sibal's predicament.

Having said this, I wish to add the government erred grievously by not going to the
cabinet at the right time, at least on two occasions in the past. One who sows the
wind will reap the whirlwind.

from:  Soundararajan Srinivasa
Posted on: Feb 11, 2012 at 19:47 IST

The verdict of the SC on the 2G scam case, which highlighted the lack of oversight by the PM and poor governance by the Congress led UPA Govt, has caused a major embarassment to the Govt. particularly as some foreign Governments "are putting pressure on the government, asking it to safeguard their investments". The UPA has only itself to blame for the state of affairs.

from:  Krishna
Posted on: Feb 11, 2012 at 18:21 IST
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