70,000-crore spec­trum scam un­der Modi, says Cong, cites CAG re­port

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - TIMES NEWS NET­WORK

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”.

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