There is a phony ring to this whole story.
The telephone advisory committee (TAC) seems to have been reduced to a platform for doling out free telephone connections and free call quotas to members of parliament and political party affiliates.
The two public sector telecom companies — Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd — pick up the tab for the largesse so bestowed.
Telephone connections to members of TAC are issued with a two-year tenure, free of cost, along with a quota of 500 free calls per month. The TAC is supposed to consist of members of parliament and other prominent members of society, but in the absence of a transparent screening committee to select the members of the committee, it gets filled up by friends of MPs and party workers.
A single free fixed line phone connection and the free calls cost about Rs. 2,500 per month. With more than 8,000 TAC members in 359 telecom districts, the facility is estimated to cost the exchequer about Rs. 2 crore every month.
The tenure for the current batch of TAC members set up in 2011 expired on Monday, December 22. But just a few days earlier, on December 11, the department of telecommunications issued an order to extend the tenure of TACs in 342 telecom districts — with all facilities — till July 1, 2014.
And BSNL and MTNL have been asked to renew all the free telephone connections as well.