New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) Even as Communication and IT Minister A. Raja Friday denied the charges against him in the 2G spectrum controversy, the Comptroller and Auditor General (GAG) is learnt to have said that the minister, ‘for no valid reasons’ ignored the advice of law and finance ministries and allocated the spectrum at ‘less than its value, on flexible procedures adopted to benefit a few operators’.
The report, submitted to President Pratibha Patil Wednesday, has been sent to the finance ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office. It will be tabled in parliament later.
A beleaguered Raja, who has refused to resign despite mounting demands from the opposition, said he was yet to receive a copy of the CAG report. ‘I cannot comment on the facts put up by the media,’ he said.
The minister said he would not comment further as the matter was sub-judice.
Normal business in both houses of parliament was stalled Wednesday and Thursday as agitated opposition members disrupted the proceedings demanding the resignation of Raja over the spectrum controversy alleging that the state had lost ‘lakhs of crores’ in the deal.
The CAG report, which was accessed by IANS, said ‘the entire process of spectrum allocation was undertaken in an arbitrary manner’.
‘The Prime Minister had stressed on the need for a fair and transparent allocation of spectrum, and the ministry of finance, and the ministry of law and justice had sought for the decision regarding spectrum pricing to be considered by an EGOM (Empowered Group of Ministers),’ it said.
‘Brushing aside these concerns and advices, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), in 2008, proceeded to issue 122 new licences for 2G spectrum at 2001 prices, thus flouting all rules and procedures to be followed in a parliamentary democratic set up,’ the CAG said.
‘The process followed for spectrum allocation was also unfair, considering the fact that DoT did not follow its own guidelines on eligibility conditions, arbitrarily changed the cut-off date for receipt of applications post facto and altered the conditions it had been following, gave unfair advantage of certain companies over others thus creating an environment which can not be perceived as transparent and fair,’ the report added.
According to the report, the country suffered a loss of more than Rs.1.77 lakh crores because of Raja’s decisions to sell the 2G spectrum rights through faulty process.
‘The presumptive value of the 2G spectrum, based on various available indicators, ranged between Rs.90,000 crore and Rs.140,000 crore. In addition, the value of additional spectrum allotted beyond the contractual amount to existing nine operators, based on 3G rates, works out to Rs.36,729 crore,’ the report said.
‘The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the regulator, also stood by as a helpless spectator when its recommendations were either ignored or misused’ the CAG report said.
(George Joseph can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)