TRAI has suggested that operators be charged one-time payment for holding extra spectrum beyond the contractual limit of 6.2 MHz and the same may be linked to the price of 3G spectrum for which auction was held recently
Market leader Bharti Airtel today termed as "lopsided" the report of telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on spectrum charges, saying it was not liable for "one time charges" for the frequency beyond 6.2 MHz, reports PTI.
Demanding a level playing field for the old operators, Bharti group chief Sunil Mittal told PTI, "Our view is that the spectrum given to us and other operators from time to time is under a policy and there is no question of any additional payment for this."
TRAI has suggested that the operators be charged one-time payment for holding extra spectrum beyond the contractual limit of 6.2 MHz and the same may be linked to the price of third generation (3G) spectrum for which auction was held recently.
Mr Bharti, he said, has been paying extra spectrum charges on the additional spectrum for years now and there is no rationale for one-time charge for any spectrum held by the firm.
Asked if he would take up the issue with prime minister Manmohan Singh, he said, "We have written to the regulator and the (telecom) minister. We have also seen the reports that the issue might be referred to an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM). I am very hopeful that justice will be done."
Mr Mittal also slammed the regulator for suggesting that the operators must buy second generation (2G) spectrum at the new price for their next licence period of 20 years as and when their old licences come up for renewal.
With most of Bharti's licences due for renewal in the next 2-3 years the company may have to shell out a whopping up to Rs15,000 crore for renewing its licences and at a time when the new operators have been given the same spectrum at Rs1,650 crore a year ago.
"TRAI has created a lopsided situation. Certain set of operators have got spectrum and they are going to enjoy it for next 20 years at a much lower price and some operators like us will have to pay much higher if TRAI recommendations are accepted," Mr Mittal said.
The company will wait for the renewal policy to be announced by the government. "All that I would say is that whatever is the decision it should be absolutely same, equal and level playing field for all the operators. And that will be acceptable to us," he said.
"You can’t have a difference that one set of operators are paying Rs1,650 crore and others are expected to pay a multiple of that. Spectrum is spectrum whether is lying here or there. If they (government) want to charge a higher price, then they will have to go back and charge all those who got spectrum in 2008 at the same charge," he added.
The decision follows the intervention by the PMO after mining minister Jaiprakash Jaiswal expressed his unhappiness at the environment ministry's move to declare 40 coal blocks under nine collieries as "no-go area" where no mining will be allowed.
Power project developers can now breathe easy as the environment ministry has agreed to increase the "go zone" for coal mining in forest areas by 10% from 344,000 hectares to 380,000 hectares in eight coal blocks in the country, reports PTI.
"Go areas" are the designated zones in forest areas where coal mining is allowed in case they meet the environment clearance.
The decision to increase the go area in coal blocks came following intervention by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) after mining minister Jaiprakash Jaiswal expressed his unhappiness at the environment ministry's decision to declare 40 coal blocks under nine collieries as "no-go area" where no mining will be allowed.
Mr Jaiswal had complained to the PMO that dividing coal fields into "go" and "no-go" area by the environment ministry would result in a massive 600 million tonne annual shortfall in production.
At the intervention of PMO, a joint survey was conducted recently wherein the ministries agreed to settle on 3.8 lakh hectares.
While the environment ministry proposed to put 3.49 lakh hectares into the "go" zone, the coal ministry demanded 4.5 lakh hectares.
However, the Hasdeo-Arand coalfields of Chhattisgarh have been excluded.
The entire field remains firmly in the "no-go" zone in view of its ecological sensitivity.
Also, the new agreement includes some underground mines, which are environmentally preferable to the original strip mining proposals.
"This is for the first time that underground mines have also been specified. We have no problem with such mining," environment minister Jairam Ramesh said recently.
The environment ministry has classified forest land into "go" and "no-go" areas for coal mining firms.
According to the initial classification, the ministry had identified nearly 3,45,000 hectares of land where mining could be carried out, subject to environmental and other clearance. The other areas were “no-go” areas.
"But go areas does not mean clean chit for clearance.
"In such zones, environment nod will be given if green conditions are met. Otherwise it can be no zone as well," Mr Ramesh said.
The online trading system as well as the phone-order service of ICICIdirect broke down today leaving numerous customers feeling completely helpless. However, the company is keeping mum so far
ICICIdirect.com, ICICI Securities Ltd's retail trading and investment services portal crashed today due to technical glitches. This has put all of its customers in deep trouble. Till writing the story, the trading or customer login page on icicidirect.com was showing an error message saying:"Dear Customer, Our website ICICIdirect.com is not available today due to technical issues. We truly regret the inconvenience caused to you."
ICICIdirect.com was down since morning with a message that the services will be resumed at 8.55am, the time when trading commences on bourses. However, throughout the day, customers were not able to log in or do any online trading. Even its CallNtrade facility used for placing orders through a phone was not working.
According to some customers, their repeated calls to ICICIdirect's helpline were met with replies like "Sorry, but we have a technical problem"; "We cannot transfer to our superior because he is on another call" and "Our superior will give you the same response". The media relations person first put Moneylife on hold and then did not take the subsequent calls. Our query to the CEO, Madhabi Puri Buch has not been responded to.
ICICIdirect does not have a dedicated helpline and the customers have to go through the ICICI Bank helpline in a series of complicated steps, with a wait time of up to 7-10 minutes at times, a customer said.
The magnitude of the technical problem was such that the brokerage was not even taking orders over the phone, confirmed another customer.
The Sensex jumped by more than 200 points within seconds of opening today thanks to strong overseas markets. Customers who wanted to square off their shorts were forced to watch their losses mount due to the technical problem. Those who wanted to sell their shares could not book profits.
"ICICIdirect is one of the most expensive online brokers and a breakdown in its services is very upsetting," one customer told us