Raja to blame for India losing Rs 1.76 lakh cr: probe | india | Hindustan Times
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Raja to blame for India losing Rs 1.76 lakh cr: probe

Comptroller and Auditor General of India's report says Telecom Minister took arbitrary decision while allotting 2G spectrum in 2008. He also allegedly ignored the advice of the law ministry and the Prime Minister.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2010 14:48 IST

New Delhi: Telecom Minister A Raja may have caused a loss of over Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the nation because of the way he allotted 2G spectrum to telecom companies in 2008, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has said in a report.

Sources tell PTI the CAG report has accused the Telecom Ministry of undervaluing 2G spectrum--sold to new players in the telecom sector in 2008--and held that the allotment price was not realistic and it caused a revenue loss of Rs 1,76,700 crore to the government.

The report is understood to have accused Raja of taking arbitrary decisions while allotting 2G spectrum, bundled with licences in January 2008. "Yes, we have submitted the final report to the government. I cannot disclose the findings of the report. It is up to the government when it will be tabled in the Parliament...may be within a fortnight or it may take long," said Vinod Rai, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

Sources said a copy of the report has been sent to the finance ministry and to the President. It will be next tabled in Parliament.

Nine firms were issued licences, bundled with start up of 2G spectrum, in January 2008 at Rs 1,658 crore for pan-India operations.

The CAG report said the price at which the spectrum was alloted in 2008 was based on 2001 prices, which was quite low and has resulted in a loss to the government exchequer.

The report also said that Raja ignored the advice of the law ministry and the Prime Minister and advanced the cut off date for giving the Letter of Intent (LoI).

The telecom ministry had, however, hit at the CAG saying the policy decisions cannot be "assailed" as arbitrary and debunked CAG's assertion that 2G spectrum was allocated in an arbitrary manner.

"Decisions (on spectrum) taken on the basis of New Telecom Policy of 1999 and the Cabinet decision of 2003, coupled with periodic and respective TRAI's recommendations.

"(This) cannot be assailed by the audit as arbitrary or cause of exchequer loss until and unless the entire policy devised with legislative backing is changed or modified by the same authorities concerned," the deparment of telecom had said in its reply to the Comptroller and Auditor General.

CAG has reportedly put the revenue loss to exchequer at up to Rs 1.40 lakh crore, in addition to another Rs 36,700 crore on allocation of spectrum beyond contractual limit to existing nine operators.