Sandeep Joshi

Members include Pranab, Raja and Lalu

Auction has already been delayed twice

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday announced the formation of a Group of Ministers (GoM), which will look into the controversial issue of pricing of 3G spectrum, besides fixing the number of players per telecom circle for launching the third generation mobile services.

The GoM members include External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Communications and Information Technology Minister A. Raja, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Chemical and Fertilizers and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Anand Sharma and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

A Cabinet Secretariat letter said the GoM would be serviced by the Department of Telecom (DoT).

It has been formed after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs failed to reach consensus while considering a DoT proposal on auction of 3G spectrum.

However, with the general elections already announced, how much time the GoM will spare to discuss the 3G spectrum issue remains to be known.

The auction has already been delayed twice following differences among the Finance, Telecom and other Ministries concerned over the reserve price for spectrum and the number of players per circle.

While the DoT said the base price for pan-India 3G spectrum would be Rs. 2,020 crore and for broadband access technologies such as WiMax would be Rs.1,010 crore, the Finance Ministry demanded that the floor price be doubled to Rs. 4,040 crore and Rs. 2,020 crore.