Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
Misleading ‘per second’ or ‘per minute’ ads for mobile plans fall foul of TRAI

Call rate as half paisa or one-fourth paisa per ‘second’ would be considered misleading if the actual rate is 1 paisa per two seconds or 1 paisa per four seconds Consumer organisations have lauded the move but have also demanded concrete action from the regulator

Advertisements that were claiming call rate as “per second” or “per minute” would be deemed misleading if the pulse rate is higher than one second or one minute, said The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). TRAI has issued guidelines on misleading traffic plans advertisements for mobile service providers after noticing non-transparency and ambiguity in these ads. The regulator has asked telecom operators to withdraw the ads which are inconsistent with its directives within 30 days. Consumer organisations have lauded the move but have also demanded concrete action from the regulator.

“Thus, declaration of a call rate as half paisa or one-fourth paisa per ‘second’ would be considered misleading if the actual rate is 1 paisa per two seconds or 1 paisa per four seconds”.

Anil Prakash, president, Telecom Users Group of India, “The directive issued by TRAI is laudable and consumer friendly. Nearly 96% of the mobile users are prepaid subscribers, and majority of them do not read or write. They get their recharge done by a third party or verbal recharge. Why there are too many tariffs? Tariffs should be fixed to one only, and then the regulator does not have to explain so many combinations.”

Tariff-related advertisements will be considered misleading, if the reduced call rate/SMS charge does not indicate that such reduced rate is applicable only after some usage. Plans under a title which suggests absence of rental if the tariff plan has recurring mandatory fixed charge in one form or other and tariff plans with titles such as ‘Zero Rental’, ‘Rental Free’ will also come under this category.

Experts suggest that such clarity in the tariff-related advertisements is in the favour of the consumers but more awareness and continuous monitoring is required.

Hemant Upadhyay, advisor-IT & telecom of Consumer VOICE, an online magazine on consumer awareness, says, “These regulations were overdue in view of new operators coming into play. You would also appreciate that by its very nature in spite of TRAI regulations there is ample scope for mischief by TSPs (telecom service providers). Hence we, the consumer watchdogs, need to be continuously alert to these wrongdoings of the TSPs.”

He adds, “However we need to wait and see how the TSPs behave in light of these new TRAI regulations which came into effect from 1 April 2012 regarding Tariff Voucher system wherein all the tariffs chargeable to a consumer have been classified under four different voucher categories.”

The association representing service providers have also welcomed the move.
Rajan Matthews, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) told Moneylife, “We certainly agree with TRAI on this. It will bring more clarity to the tariff-related advertisements. All telecom players will comply with the directions.”

Sector regulator TRAI has also asked the TSPs to file a certificate of compliance with them on a half-yearly basis, on the 15th of January and July each year, confirming that all tariff advertisements issued by the access service provider during the preceding six months were in compliance with the provisions of this direction.  

TRAI has also given examples of misleading advertisements.

  • Advertising a scheme/pack as ‘Free’ would be misleading if there is a cap on the daily usage and such cap is not conveyed in the advertisement
  •  Advertising a specific discounted STD/ISD as general rate would be misleading if such STD/ISD rates are applicable only in respect of calls to specific regions/countries.
  • Advertising a discounted rate without mentioning the fixed fee component to be paid by the subscriber for availing such discounted rate would be misleading if such conditions are not explicitly stated in the advertisement.
  • Advertisement that omits certain vital terms and conditions attached to a set of tariff such as the “validity period” would be misleading in situations where such declared tariff benefit is available only for a specific period.



Tira T

5 years ago

A paper tiger (with people not interested in people's welfare) like the TRAI will never be able to make any dent given the power of these service providers in the pvt sector. A very senior retd. civil servant once wrote to TRAI against a controversial foreing party in this sector. TRAI did not even acknowledge the complaint, what to talk of any action. Common people are being hoodwinked by these falsehoods with impunity. And, of course, with the connivance of the corrupt bureaucracy.

Cancellation of registration for not filing excise, service tax on cards

In case of a service provider, the registration will be cancelled automatically if return is not filed for 12 months

New Delhi: Registration of a manufacturer will be cancelled automatically if excise duty returns are not filed for six months, as per the latest government proposal, reports PTI.

In case of a service provider, the registration will be cancelled automatically if return is not filed for 12 months, said the draft of the common excise duty and service tax form on which the Revenue Department has sought comments from stakeholders by 30th April.

"Cancellation of the registration can be done either on the request of assessee when he surrenders the registration or suo motto by the department after following the principles of natural justice," it said.

In order to streamline the process of registration, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has proposed amendments to the Central Excise Rules 2002 and Service Tax Rules 1994.

Since cancellation is not punitive, CBEC's draft said, "it will not debar the person from making fresh application for registration when he desires to restart the business".

In the Budget, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said as a measure of harmonisation between central excise and service tax, a number of alignments have been made.

"These include a common simplified registration form and a common return for central excise and service tax, to be named EST-1," he had said.

The excise duty return is filed on monthly basis, while service tax return is filed on half yearly basis.


“Public Transport will improve with better management of congestion, signal and utilities” -Part I

Transport expert Dr PS Pasricha explains the way forward for easing traffic problems in Mumbai which hold lessons for all large cities

Dr PS Pasricha, former deputy commissioner of Mumbai (traffic) in the 1980s, had introduced series of very thoughtful steps to improve the traffic management of the “maximum city”. He has also served on various departments of police. A PhD in traffic management, Dr Pasricha has authored a book, Traffic Management: A long way to go”, on road safety and traffic management. In an interview with Alekh Angre of Moneylife, he talks about urgent need to overhaul the congestion and signal management and thereby giving thrust to public transport. (This the first part of the interview)

Moneylife (ML): You have studied traffic and public transport for many years. Where have we gone wrong, to have at such pathetic public transport in Mumbai?

Dr PS Pasricha (PS): For this, one has to understand the phenomena of rising population and vehicular ownership. From 18 lakh population in 1941, it grew ten fold to around 180 lakh today. The number of cars now stands at around 22-23 lakh from just 18,000 in 1941. But the total area is limited. Since Mumbai is surrounded on three sides by water, there is a trend of commuting towards the north of city or vertically up. The density of car ownership is also rising. We have around 2,200 km of roads, hence there are problems of traffic congestion and environmental pollution.

To top that there is constant digging of roads by various utility departments such hydraulic, sewage, telephone, etc and often a mismatch in the digging and excavation timings, leading to disturbance in the traffic movement. Then is there is the perennial issue of encroachment despite Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA). Then there are other developments, too. Navi Mumbai was created to mainly for commercial purpose. Later people started moving over there for residential purposes due to rising realty prices in the mainland. Over the years, this has resulted in longitudinal extension of traffic. Earlier we had 80% of the traffic coming towards south Mumbai in the morning. But now it is same in both directions. The mass transit pattern is same for 12-15 hours. Poor signal management adds to the problem. There are various signal time plans available on the signal system, but these have not been utilised. There has to be different signal timing for various slots of the day, along with periodic study of signal pattern.  

ML: So the public transport utilities have not adapted to these changes?

PS: Yes. There is no systematic approach and no co-ordination between departments. During my time we had regular meetings with all the departments and stake-holders. This solved many of the issues. It also increased transparency. To tackle the issue of congestion due to digging of road, we used to ask for proposals from all the utilities agencies—telephone, gas, and sewage, etc, for their requirement by end of May, every year. After rigorous planning and strategizing, we used to allocate timings to dig the roads. This ensured there was no overlapping and hence there was no issue of congestion.

ML: You mentioned about poor signal management. Could please tell us something more about it?

PS: What we see now is completely unplanned signal management. The timings of the signal are same throughout the day. It has to be dynamic because the traffic itself is dynamic. Signal management has to be studied every three months or at least once in six months. If we put pressure on one point, the traffic moves to another lane/route. So congestion is spread at different points. During my days as commissioner, we had implemented nine different signal timings—for mornings, afternoons, evenings, holidays, festivals, etc. That should be re-introduced. Congestion management is essential for improving the efficiency of public transport.

ML: Could you elaborate on congestion management?

PS: If you consider Mumbai, the car ownership is rising. Currently I think the car occupancy must be around 1.8 from earlier 1.6. Take the example of Singapore, in 1975, to control congestion, it did not allow cars in certain downtown areas from 7.30-10.15 in the morning, unless it carried four people. So people started sharing vehicles or going before or after the no-entry period. This flattened the peak pressure and also migrated people to actually use public transport. Singapore was the pioneer in effective congestion management in a scientific manner. It also encouraged people to use public transport. In case of Mumbai, every private vehicle having capacity of four people should at least carry three. This will help to reduce the number of cars plying on the road. The basic rule of traffic management is that you pass only that amount of the traffic to next junction, which it can siphon out smoothly. But inconsistency of lanes is also a part of the problem. For instance, there are four lanes on Marine Drive, which further reduce to 3-2.5 lanes at Babulnath, and beyond it on Peddar Road there are only two lanes. So there is a problem of traffic bottle-neck. An average length of car is about five meters, this leads to bumper-to-bumper traffic with very little space. So in one km there are around 200 cars, which pass in 15 minutes per lane. So, around 800 cars ply per lane in one hour within the city. Thus, even one lane is blocked for 15 minutes, for some reason; there would be congestion of around 1 km. Such factors are hardly taken into consideration. We need consistency in lanes.

ML: Could tell us your views on flyovers? You have been very vocal about the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and its real use.

PS: Many of the flyovers are not providing any relief the problem of congestion. Many of them are badly planned and all are not workable. Take the case of the Sion flyover. The vehicles which were coming in four lanes are reduced to two lanes on the flyover. So there is bound to have congestion. Same is the case with Bandra-Worli Sea Link. I had written that it is going to cause a lot of problems at Haji Ali and Peddar Road, unless you link it with Marine Drive. Vehicles are coming at speed of 2,000 cars per lane per hour on the bridge. But near Worli Seaface, only 600-700 cars can ply at the same speed. So again there is the problem of traffic bottle-neck. Overall the commuting time is not phenomenally reduced after using the Sea Link. It is usable only if you going outside of the city as it is connected to the highway. It needs to be extended to Marine Drive and also to the eastern corridor, from Sewree, Navi Mumbai, Uran Nhava Shiva (Trans harbour link). This needs to be given top priority.   

ML: With projects like Metro and Monorail in the implementation phase, would they help to improve Mumbai’s public transport?

They are certainly supplementing the effort. Though, it cannot be a solution for all the problems. But again it has to be done with proper planning and vision of at least of 50 years hence. Here we have a situation where roads are dug up and there is no time frame when it will be restored to its present condition. I keep insisting on holistic planning with a 360 degree view. The poor public transport and traffic problems are only due to pathetic planning. In 1965, a consultant by the name Wilbur Smith had proposed a ring road around the city in the form of the Western and Eastern Express Highway, with cost of only Rs60 crore. It was not implemented at that time, but eventually it was built. That is the kind of vision I am talking about.

ML: Having pointed all these problems, what is the way forward?

PS: To begin with we need to build an institution such as Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) with a legal status. This will ensure better inter-departmental and effective co-ordination for planning on land use and traffic management.

This will also help to improve good and efficient public transport and automatically discourage private car usage. We require an integrated fare system, starting with the railways. Industries and corporates should be encouraged to set up at least 150 km away from the city. For that, they should be given subsidies and better FSI (Floor Space Index). Such satellite towns should also be connected with better roads so that people won’t mind travelling the distance.

We need to implement good traffic management with dynamic signal timing along with good road markings and signs. This will improve safety as well as traffic flow and people will also comply with the law.

Then there should be an effective driving license system with de-meriting system for those breaking safety and traffic rules. Only then people will understand the importance of driving licenses. The process of issuing driving license should be computerised, such as in the case of passport. This is a solid investment and also important from the point of national security. We require good footpaths, to encourage pedestrians and encouraging walking habits for smaller distances.

Lastly, we should plan and implement projects as per our ground realities and limitations. It should not be introduced just because it was a success elsewhere.

You may want to read...
Efficient management of BEST buses can improve public transport system in Mumbai - Part II






5 years ago

Today's newspaper prove me right beyond doubt.

Please go through my comments in reply to V M Madhavan. Read the second paragraph of my comments. THE MAJOR CULPRITS OF THE CHAOTIC TRAFFIC CONDITION IS BEST BUSES and today's news of a double decker falling down 'because the driver stepped on the pedal to beat the traffic lights....' and BEST authorities admitting as the driver's fault (as if they had any other option). Because of the accident, they had to admit the driver's fault. But this is not a stray incident. Drivers of BEST buses drive recklessly and with least regards to the traffic signals, fellow vehicles on the road, passengers on the bus itself (they start driving even while a passenger is alighting or boarding). They know no end to themselves, just because they are Govt. employees and traffic police too are.. so bhai-bhai. Wow what a Bhai giri ?

The traffic chief has to open his eyes and accept this menace and correct it if he seriously means business.



In Reply to Prakash 5 years ago

That is NOT what the BEST said, they accepted it 'prima facie'. People too race recklessly in front of an oncoming bus or let their kids play practically under the wheels. They should be fined heavily.

We need more marked crossings with enough time to cross over, no parking on main streets, excellent public transport (which must stop til riders get on/ off), and traffic free lanes like say the sea facing side on Marine Drive for people to skate, cycle, etc. on holidays. Flickering traffic lights except between 1 am to 5 am are ridiculous. One cannot cross if they flicker and traffic keep coming. Busdrivers are expected back on very tight, old schedules. Why? Hence they keep racing.


5 years ago

dear dr pasricha , why dont we follow the singapore pattern?

Venu Mohan Madhavan

5 years ago

Wonder why there are no Traffic Policemen at any signal in Mumbai these days. But on certain days the roads are full of Traffic Policemen ....where are they hiding on 350 days of the year. I feel that that the mere presence of cops make the flow of traffic better. Yes long term planning suggested by the Dr. is also important.
The pedestrian is the most ignored of all the people on the road today.



In Reply to Venu Mohan Madhavan 5 years ago

Very good question, and one the Mumbai Traffic Police would be best equipped to answer. I wish they had a facebook page like the Delhi Traffic Police had where you could place your views online - and get responses too.



In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Absolutely true. I too have noticed that of late one never gets to see policemen at the traffic signals, like earlier. And yes, they are overflowing when a VVIP is going to pass.

Based on the observation, a major cause of the pathetic condition of the traffic condition today is BEST buses. Invariably, they break and jump the signals. They care the least for the traffic signals. They are merely concerned about completing their journey in time. The cops never seem to catch or fine them even if they notice happening right in front of their eyes. Once people see BEST buses blatantly breaking the traffic rules, private vehicle owners then tend to feel foolish observing the rules and then they too break it. The next culprits are the food delivery-boy scooters who care hoots for the traffic rules. Then comes the taxi drivers. Then comes private two wheeler riders who do not bother to obey traffic rules even forgetting their own safety. This is evident from the fact that they do not even care to wear helmets and if they do, then majority are make shift types which will not protect when need arises.

Ofcourse I do not mean to say that each and every drivers/riders of vehicles mentioned above violate the rules, but yes, they surely make up a majority.

The private four wheeler drivers break rule in style by talking on the mobiles while driving. You can make out immediately when the car in front looks uncertain of what it wants to do, goes slow, etc. Then you go past and find the driver happily talking on the phone.

Another major reason of law abiding citizens also breaking the rules is because many of the traffic signals timing are not set properly. The green would remain on for very few seconds whereas red would remain on for very long time even if there is no traffic from the other sides. Such things make people violate rules.

Other reason and most noticeable is when a policeman is manually managing a junction. Invariably he keeps on calling one side's traffic endlessly forgetting that he is at a junction and there could be three other sides to it. They 'think' they are there to ease the traffic, little realising that the traffic jam and snarls got worsened because of them.

But do you know one set of culprits tops all the above and they are 'the cops' themselves. The traffic police themselves have 'least' regard for the traffic laws and rules. How ? I will tell you. I am sure after you read this all of you will agree to this unanimously because each one of you has been noticing it every single day and you cannot do anything about it, unfortunately.

The towing vans with traffic police in passenger seat are the biggest culprits of all. The break the signal, jump the signal, force themselves in one way lanes, take U-turns where it is not allowed and every other possible breaking of the rule. Why ? Because they are in a rush to mint money. I have a habit of stopping such towing vans when they are breaking the rule and guess what the police man in the passenger seat says when caught.... 'Oh.. I did not see it.. I was busy writing receipts'. Do they let us go if we give them even a logical and an honest reason for mistakenly breaking the rule ? NO. THIS IS A BIG MENACE AND even superiors in traffic are turning blind eye to this.

So, first dear Traffic Chief.. please ensure that your own boys do not think they are above the law. Inculcate traffic discipline and respect to the law in them first. Then go out and catch the 'lesser mortals' like us.


5 years ago


its unfortunate that dr.p has chosen to ignore the root cause of the problem. the real problem is not what has been brought out in the 'tailored' interview! all indian drivers know that there will always be congestion on the indian roads even if the roads were widened to a mile!!! the main reason is the total absence of law & order on our indian roads (just as it has been in our social lives). the absence of L&O is due to apathy by the police, poor governance and faulty social & civic sense of citizens at large. don't we have narrow roads elsewhere in the world? to summarise, it will take us another 200 years to unlearn, just as it took to them............


5 years ago

Good interview with Dr. Pasricha, thanks, and brings in a lot of experience as well as logical options for trying to solve the huge issue of mobility within Mumbai.

For people like me, who grew up in Mumbai and then literally ran away when transport and other issues started impacting basic efficiencies, a solution would be bliss.

However, a UMTA will be even more useful if it includes water transport, conversion of local taxiis to electric, possible re-introduction of trams, better intermodal bus connectivity between railway stations, airports, bus terminals and suburbs, and more buses.

Good luck, Mumbai!!



In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Thank you for your valuable comment. It would be great if you tell us more about UMTA, which according to reports, is defunct.


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