70,000-crore spectrum scam under Modi, says Cong, cites CAG report
New Delhi: Five years after being ousted from power over allegations of financial bungling in the allocation of 2G spectrum, Congress attempted to turn the tables on the incumbent Modi government by alleging a “scam” in microwave spectrum allocation — allocated to telecom operators for short distances to provide mobile services — which they claimed led to losses of Rs 69,381 crore to the national excequer.
Quoting a CAG report on the telecom department that was tabled in Parliament on January 8, Congress alleged that the Modi government dispensed with the Supreme Court mandated spectrum auction model for alloting spectrum and gave it on a first-cum-first-serve (FCFS) basis to the government’s “select cronies”.
While the auditor neither mentioned the name of the company to which the microwave spectrum was allocated, nor the estimated losses, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera pegged the losses at Rs 69,381 crore, and baited former CAG Vinod Rai to answer whether these were “notional or actual”.
The CAG report said MWA spectrum was allocated to a telecom operator in 2015 on FCFS basis in contravention to the recommendations of a DoT-constituted committee, while 101 applications for microwave spectrum were pending with the government.
CAG also said in its report that a Department of Telecom committee in December 2012 proposed that spectrum allotment in microwave band should be done through auction. “In contravention of the committee’s recommendations, allocation of MW access spectrum has been done on FCFS basis till date as was being done for 2G licence and access spectrum till 2009,” the report said.
Congress also accused the Modi government of taking steps, surreptitiously, to protect the interests of leading telecom companies by helping them avoid payment of charges they owed to the exchequer. “BJP government deferred the recovery of spectrum auction amount by six years, causing additional loss and to make it worse, Modi Cabinet extended interest payment period for spectrum acquired in auctions to 16 years from 10 years,” Khera said. Extrapolating the impact, Congress said a loss of Rs 69,381 crore was caused to the national exchequer on account of BJP’s help to “select cronies”.