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Telecom Commission VSNL Land

The Telecom Commission, a decision making arm of Telecom Ministry, today asked the Department of Telecommunications for additional information on various issues, including hiving off 773 acres of surplus VSNL land.

According to sources, the meeting remained inconclusive as some of the members asked the Commission to get legal opinion on some of the proposals, especially with regard to transaction through SPV for VSNL land and rolling out of optical fibre network through state-run telecom company BSNL for National Broadband Plan.

“Due diligence were not followed by DoT. There were possible legal implications on various issues. We have asked them to give more clarity and details on the proposals,” said a senior official present at the Telecom Commission meet. The official did not wish to be named.

Telecom Commission members questioned funding of Special Purpose Vehicle formed for dealing surplus land issue of VSNL.

“On issues related to investment into SPV and hiving off VSNL land into SPV, certain additional information was sought and final decision will be taken by commission on July 22,” R Chandrashekhar, Secretary, DoT, said.

The Cabinet in 2005 approved an SPV to execute transaction required related to surplus VSNL land after the PSU was acquired by Tata Communication in 2002. However, the deal did not include 773.13 acre of PSU’s land asset which has been lying unused post acquisition of VSNL.

“There is expenditure involved in buying relevant share of SPV, carrying out transaction and disposal of land by SPV. The cost of transaction was estimated to be Rs 50 crore before it realises revenue from sale of land,” Chandrashekhar said.

On spectrum and telecom licensing agenda of the meeting today, Chandrashekhar said that the discussions have just begun and will go on for some more time.

“It is a long recommendation. Discussion on it will continue,” Chandrashekhar said.
DoT internal committee has proposed different opinion on various points recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. DoT will again consult with TRAI on spectrum and licence issue after a final decision is taken by Telecom Commission.

Legal tenability of DoT’s proposal of rolling out optical fibre network through state-run telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) was also questioned by the members at the meeting.

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