Bharti, Vodafone, Idea move TDSAT against TRAI's 2G proposals

The trio have been voicing their criticism of TRAI's recommendations and have asked the government to dump the report, which according to them is "retrograde" and "absurd"

Three leading mobile operators have pre-empted a policy change by approaching Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on second generation (2G) spectrum, including a one-time fee for holding radio waves beyond 6.2 Mhz, reports PTI.

The operators to have approached telecom tribunal TDSAT are Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.

However, one of the operators said they cannot comment on the details of the challenge as the matter is 'sub-judice'.

The trio have been voicing their criticism of TRAI's recommendations and have asked the government to dump the report, which according to them are "retrograde" and "absurd".

The GSM operators are also critical of capping the spectrum at 8 MHz in all circles except Delhi and Mumbai where the limit is 10 MHz, as they think it would restrict future growth prospects.

These issues are crucial for incumbent mobile operators as paying higher fees for existing as well as future 2G spectrum will be a big financial burden for telcos, especially Bharti and Vodafone, as their profits have already come under pressure due to the intense tariff war.

TRAI had also come under their (GSM operators) attack for recommending refarming of spectrum as per which players holding spectrum in the 900 MHz band would be asked to return spectrum as and when their licence comes up for renewal.

These players are also opposing vacating 900 MHz spectrum because that will mean moving from a more efficient spectrum band to a less efficient one.

If the TRAI recommendations are accepted, operators like Bharti, whose licence expires in about two to three years, would have to return 2G spectrum in the 900 MHz band.

This would translate into companies incurring massive investments in shifting customers to the new frequency band and deploying networks for the new airwaves.

Shares of Bharti Airtel and Idea have dipped significantly since the TRAI recommendations on May 11.

All TRAI proposals are subject to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) approval before being made into laws. The DoT has constituted an internal committee to look into the report.


Environment Support Group alleges 'criminal' negligence in developing Mangalore airport

A series of Public Interest Litigations was fought by the ESG and an activist group to stop the construction of the second runway at Mangalore airport on the grounds that the design did not conform to the most basic national and international standards of airport design and minimum safeguards

Mangalore-based Environment Support Group (ESG) and Vimana Nildhana Vistarana Virodhi Samithi (Local Communities’ Alliance Against Airport Expansion) has alleged gross negligence and lack of safety standards as a main reason for the Air India plane crash that killed 158 passengers, including crew. There were 160 passengers plus six crew members on board the flight from Dubai to Mangalore, among them 19 children and four infants.

The Group had filed a number of public interest litigations (PILs) to stop the construction of the second runway at Mangalore airport on the grounds that the design did not conform to the most basic national and international standards of airport design. The PILs also highlighted that the airport does not conform to the most minimum safeguards for emergency situations—particularly during landings and takeoffs, and could not have emergency approach roads within a kilometre on all sides of the airport as required.

Despite making several presentations to authorities like the Director General of Civil Aviation, National Building Code of India and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, nobody paid any heed to the Group and the Samithi.

Both the ESG and the Samithi, through a variety of representations, demonstrated that the site chosen for expansion at Bajpe was surrounded by deep valleys on three sides of the runway and did not provide for emergency landing areas as required.

Raising a key concern that the second runway at Mangalore could not meet the standards required in dealing with an emergency, particularly during landings and takeoffs—a time when air crashes are most likely to happen—the ESG and the Samithi then filed a PIL in the Karnataka High Court.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) filed an affidavit in the Court. AAI said: "It is submitted that as regards the apprehensions of the petitioner that the length and width of the runway is insufficient for a plane making an emergency landing, the same is without any basis. It is respectfully submitted that all the requirements as per the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommendation will be met and that there has been no infringement of any of the recommendations and limitations therein."

Following AAI's submission, the Court dismissed the PIL filed by ESG and the Samithi. The Court said the expansion of the Bajpe airport project was at the initial stage and the second respondent (AAI) had in its objections mentioned above, unequivocally stated that all the safety measures, stated by the petitioners in their writ petition will be followed during the progress of the project and nothing can be said before the land is handed over to the second respondent.

"Considering these facts, we are of the view that the petitioners have rushed to this court before commencement of the project itself and the writ petition is premature. It is not, therefore, necessary to consider the various grounds taken by the petitioners in the writ petition to allege that the respondents have been proceeding with the project in a casual manner. There is nothing to doubt about the statement made by the second respondent in their objection statement and we are sure that the respondents will be taking all necessary measures under the different enactments etc., before proceeding with the project in question. The writ petition stands dismissed," the Court had said.

Later on, the ESG and the Samithi twice filed PILs in the Karnataka High Court, which were also dismissed. In their second exhaustively-researched PIL, the ESG raised many significant concerns citing that the second runway could not conform to ICAO norms. The PIL said, "Minimum Area for Stop-way: At page 155 of the said (ICAO) report, para 2-1 prescribes standards for providing the minimum area for a stop way and/or a clear way in the event an aircraft undershoots or over-runs the runway. For instance, if an aircraft has initiated take-off, and a technical flaw requires emergency stop, the standard prescribes the minimum area that should be kept free to enable such a stop. In the instant case, the runway distance itself is about 2,400 metres, and even if the area left is most cautiously utilised, what is left is only about 300 metres on each end of the runway. By the prescribed standard, this is far below the required distance needed for an emergency stop way. Therefore, the chances for an aircraft that has achieved the decision speed forcing an emergency stop are critically minimised, and the inevitable consequence could be that the plane would come crashing down the hillsides from a height of 80-100 metres on either side of the proposed runway."

However, the High Court dismissed the PIL saying that the authorities concerned have to complete all formalities as per law before commencement of the project. The ESG and the Samithi then approached the Supreme Court. In a ruling dated 7 February 2003, the apex court said, "We see no reason to interfere with the impugned order. Accordingly, the special leave petition is dismissed. We, however, clarify that in constructing the Airport, the Government shall comply with all applicable laws and also with environmental norms."

Seeing the Supreme Court ruling as a victory, the authorities began construction in 2004 and commissioned the second runway in 2006. "No techno-economic assessment, feasibility study, or even a comprehensive Environment Impact Assessment was ever done for the second runway. Simply put, the runway was built in comprehensive violation of applicable laws, standards and direction of the Supreme Court," the ESG alleged.

The Group further said that, today, India is frenetically building airports all over, and for all sorts of flaky reasons. Such is the political, bureaucratic and corporate pressure to build and expand airports that anyone questioning the rationale is quickly dubbed as a 'busybody', 'useless interloper', 'promoted by vested interests' and raising 'frivolous' concerns, it added.

"To ensure such incidents do not recur, we demand that the Union Minister of Civil Aviation orders an impartial Commission of Enquiry into the causative factors of this crash, especially investigating the absolute lack of conformance with basic runway design standards and emergency approach measures,” the ESG and the Samithi said in a release.



K B Patil

7 years ago

It is obvious to anyone with the barest minimum of commonsense that a table top runway is not safe. There is no margin for error. Does the DGCA think that pilots are robots? Even if that is so, it has been seen umpteen times that even machines can malfunction. Whether it is the Carlton towers fire tragedy in Bangalore or the Park Street fire tragedy in Kolkata or this crash, disdain for human life is the root cause of all these deaths. Our rulers clearly lack sensitivity towards their fellow citizens. That is the reason why they think they can get away with anything. A PIL is the only weapon for the common man. The tragedy is that the new Chief Justice does not seem too well disposed towards PILs!!


7 years ago

Will ESG file a public interest litigation/Conpempt petition against the AAI in general and specifically the authorities in power during the litigation period and the person who signed the affidavit - if alive so that the "concience" of the Court is "pricked" by the 158 dead passengers and they take exemplary action?


7 years ago

Govt should have taken care tolisten to the words of expert in the beginning itself while constructing the runway and making it international



In Reply to P.A.KUMAR 7 years ago

They do not!! They are encouraged in this by the hyper technical, technically illiterate judges who put great store on what the Government says. The Judges should listen more to the technically competent and ask the right questions. They cannot agree with assurances of complience by Babus without having to answer line and verse of petitions. They should also be put to notice that in the event of their statements being proved false, wherever they are, they will be liable for the consequences. But the Courts never do that. :(
I have stood on both sides of the Bar so I know how it is.

Govt starts probe on stainless steel dumping by EU, US

The goods under investigation are also used for manufacture of reactor vessels, material handing equipment, railways, pipes and tubes, architecture, building and construction and industrial fabrication

The government has initiated a probe into the alleged dumping of certain stainless steel products consumed by auto-component, building and fabrication industries, by the European Union (EU), Korea, South Africa, Taiwan and USA, reports PTI.

JSL Ltd (formerly known as Jindal Stainless) had approached the Centre for initiation of the investigation into the alleged dumping of hot-rolled flat products of stainless steel.

The complainant said the dumping was causing injury to the domestic industry.

The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD), under the commerce and industry ministry, is conducting the probe, an official said.

"The Authority (DGAD)... hereby initiates an investigation into the alleged dumping and consequential injury to the domestic industry... to determine the existence, degree and effect of alleged dumping and to recommend the amount of anti-dumping duty...," the DGAD said.

The goods under investigation are also used for manufacture of reactor vessels, material handing equipment, railways, pipes and tubes, architecture, building and construction and industrial fabrication.

While the commerce ministry recommends anti-dumping duty, the finance ministry imposes it.

The principle of anti-dumping duty is to prevent dumping and to ensure fair trading practices and to create a level playing field for domestic producers vis-à-vis foreign producers and exporters resorting to dumping.


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