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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Joshi pushes PAC probe into 2G scam

PTI  New Delhi, December 27, 2010
First Published: 20:36 IST(27/12/2010) | Last Updated: 20:46 IST(27/12/2010)

Even as BJP continued to press for JPC, Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by its senior leader M M Joshi pushed ahead with its inquiry into the 2G scam as it heard the assessment of CAG Vinod Rai on the controversial spectrum allocation.

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Rai met the 22-member committee for five hours and responded to questions, particularly about how the government auditor had arrived at the figure of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore as being the "presumptive" losses incurred due to spectrum allocation.

He explained to the Committee that the figure was arrived at using the "best practices" applied internationally. This involved three models as per which the presumptive losses were estimated to be Rs. 57,000 crore to Rs. 1.76 lakh crore, Joshi told reporters after the interaction.

Joshi said the figure of presumptive losses could be debated as to whether to take the lowest amount or the highest amount to taken into account.

"The Committee will examine the issue and reach its own conclusion on the appropriate losses," he said.

The CAG, whose report was tabled in Parliament on November 16, has comprehensively analysed all aspects of 2G spectrum allocation of 2008 and reached the conclusion that ineligible companies had benefitted from it, for which the then Telecom Minister A Raja was blamed.

After the report became public, Raja had to quit and led to persistent demands from the combined Opposition for a JPC probe and subsequent washout of the entire Winter Session of Parliament as government refused to agree.

The government has said that PAC was competent enough to go into 2G issue and there was no need for JPC.

Even as the main Opposition BJP maintained that it will accept nothing less than JPC, Joshi, who is a BJP veteran, is pushing ahead the PAC probe.

The PAC has already obtained some valuable information from the DoT, finance ministry, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and experts in the telecom sector through oral deposition and written submission.

In its last meeting, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura is understood to have told the panel that all decisions related to spectrum allocation were taken by Raja and he only carried out the orders.

He is understood to have claimed that communication between the PMO and Raja were enough to indicate that decision-making powers were confined only to the minister.

Replying to questions, Joshi disagreed that the PAC was acting hastily into 2G issue, saying it had started looking into the matter in 2009 when Gopinath Munde was its head.

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