People will be told why telecom policy was changed in 2001
The government is expected to make some major “revelations” on the 2G spectrum allocation scandal in a few days, to bring the “truth before the people,” Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said on Thursday. The announcement would cover the gamut of issues including issuance of licences and allocation of spectrum during 2001-2009, he told journalists here, while releasing a new page on the Human Resource Development Ministry website dedicated to non-resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin to mark the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas beginning Friday.
“The revelations will tell the people why the telecom policy was changed in 2001, what the Tenth Plan document said, why revenue sharing was allowed, the enormous losses to the government as a result of this, and the extent of financial gains to people.”
The government had already taken corrective measures, which would otherwise have taken several months through the process of a Joint Parliamentary Committee. A CBI probe had been ordered, notices sent to telecom companies, and the government had already collected Rs. 93 crore from new telecom operators for missing the network rollout deadline, out of a total of Rs. 219 crore which was due, the Minister pointed out.
JPC demand “absurd”
Taking on the BJP for insisting on a JPC probe, the Minister said the demand was “absurd” and pointed out that the government had given the party several alternatives to end the impasse that resulted in the washout of the winter session of Parliament. “We were ready for a special session of Parliament, debate in the House to get a sense of the members on the JPC, and even letting investigating agencies work with the Public Accounts Committee. But they did not budge. This is no way for a democracy to function,” he said.
“We have no choice but to go to the people and tell them the truth. We must tell the people that the BJP is misleading the people. Instead of “white lies” there will be only truth.”
A committee was already set up to examine the appropriateness of procedures followed by the Department of Telecommunications in issuing licences and allocating spectrum during 2001-2009. The panel, chaired by Justice (retd.) Shivraj V. Patil, was scheduled to submit its report anytime now.
Dismissing the findings of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal that kickbacks were paid to some individuals in the purchase of Bofors guns, Mr. Sibal said there was nothing new in the ITAT's report as it just endorsed what was already stated by the Commissioner of Income Tax.