Minister defends allocation of microwave spectrum, calls allegations baseless

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New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) Dismissing allegations of wrongdoing and mismanagement in allocating microwave spectrum in 2015, Union Communications Minister Manoj Sinha on Wednesday said that the DoT (Department of Telecom) had allocated the spectrum to Reliance Jio and Sistema on an administrative basis after the Supreme Courts order of 2012.

“The Supreme Court order of 2012 was on access spectrum and not on backhaul spectrum and not only one service provider, but whoever was genuine, we allotted microwave access spectrum administratively both before and after the order,” Sinha told reporters here.

“Before the Supreme Court order two TSPs (telecom service providers) were allotted and after the order Reliance Jio and Sistema were allotted,” he added.

The minister’s defence came after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a report submitted to the Parliament on January 8 had said that the allocation of a set of spectrum in 2015 was done on a first-cum-first-served (FCFS) basis, in contradiction to the recommendations of a committee, even as 101 applications for microwave (MW) spectrum were pending with the government.

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The report had said: “It was also found that allotment of MWA to Access Service providers was withheld by DoT since June 2010 and allotment against only one application was made in December 2015. There were 101 applications pending till November 2016 for allotment of MWA.”

The CAG had also observed that spectrum mismanagement by the DoT had led to a loss of Rs 560 crore to the government exchequer.

Following the submission of the report, the Congress last week demanded a probe into the matter.

Further, Sinha on Wednesday said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also had recommended for process of allotment and as per that the DoT had notified its policy in 2015, out of all the applications.

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The valid applications were given an option that if the government takes another decision in the future then on a retrospective basis the companies would have to give the payment, and only two firms applied after that who were allocated the spectrum administratively, he added.

“So I want to say with utmost responsibility that this allegation is baseless and has no evidence,” he stressed.

The minister said that backhaul spectrum has not been auctioned so far and there is also no proposal or consideration for the same.

Defending the decision on deferred spectrum liability Sinha said that extending the period of making payments to 16 years, up from 10 years would bring an additional Rs 74,446 crore to the exchequer.

–IANS

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