Action against TRAI chief demanded

NEW DELHI, DEC. 6. Levelling allegations of a Rs. 2,000-crore scam in the telecom sector, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Rajya Sabha leader, Nilotpal Basu, today demanded dismissal of the Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and a comprehensive probe into illegal international call routing by private service providers.

Mr. Basu raised the issue soon after the Question Hour charging that the TRAI was conniving with private operators leading to loss of Access Deficit Charge, meant to be utilised by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited for improving tele-density in rural areas.

Mr. Basu said the Government in public interest should remove the TRAI Chairman, Pradip Baijal, immediately and direct the regulator to hold an inquiry into the issue since it also pertained to national security.

`Fraudulent manner'

Later addressing a press conference, Mr. Basu alleged the TRAI Chairman of acting in a ``fraudulent manner and in criminal connivance with private operators''. He said the probe should cover negligence on part of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for acting in a manner that was not provided in law.

Mr. Basu said Mr. Baijal's claim that the regulatory body was not empowered to probe complaints was not correct and that existing rules provided ample scope for ordering probe.

Citing from documents, he said illegal call rerouting was also a threat to national security since the number of calling party from an international destination was not identified. Recalling the terrorist attack on Parliament House on December 13, 2001, Mr. Basu said the case was worked out by identification of telephone numbers.

On the loss of revenue, he said, in a written reply in Lok Sabha the Government said 204 cases of illegal international incoming calls were detected which resulted in a loss of Rs. 350 crores.

Expressing concern over the widening tele-density gap between the urban and rural areas, Mr. Basu said the United Progressive Alliance Government's Common Minimum Programme promises to improve the lot of rural people.

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