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By: Sudhanshu Bose
It is a long sequence of events that got unfolded with the 2G scam gaining the hype and becoming the most watched, biggest ever scam involving top and well known corporate houses of the country. Starting 2008, when the six telecom companies were issued 2G licences, the controversy rose in 2009 when CBI lodged an FIR stating the “Loss to the Exchequer” to be an estimated Rs 22,000 crores on account of issuance of these licenses. It further became worse with a CAG report insinuating this figure to be Rs 1.76 lakh crores, without mentioning that the estimate was based on the comparison with 3-G spectrum allocation. The Government and media bandied with this figure very well knowing that comparison with 3-G spectrum didn’t make any sense as it is was completely different in terms of technology, revenue potential, etc.

With such figures being spoken about, there were serious concerns about the estimates and the actual loss to the exchequer. Surprisingly, this whole theory of ‘Loss to Exchequer” has now got replaced by “additional revenue which could have been accrued to the Government Exchequer”. Surely we all know the fine difference that’s there in “loss” and “possible additional revenue”. And when CBI filed its charge sheet in April 2011, the “possible additional revenue” was estimated to be Rs 30,984.55 crores out of which Rs.22,535.6 crores was as the entry fee of new UAS licences granted by A. Raja and the remaining Rs.8,448.95 Crores as the fee paid by Dual Technology users. It is bit cloudy to understand this estimate that was based on adjusted gross revenue (per MHz) over a given period of time, primarily because spectrum was not allocated to all these telecom companies. Till the time the companies don’t have the spectrum, no revenue can be generated. This remains only one issue related to the estimate given by CBI.

Many other speculations cloud these estimated figures. In fact CBI itself mentioned in the charge sheet that TRAI has been requested to give a report to CBI on the spectrum prices (yearly) for all telecom circles from 2001-2008. It raises doubts on why the CBI has shown this hurry in filing the charge sheet even as the TRAI report is awaited, knowing well that these estimates are crucial in this case.

Hurry in filing the charge sheet by CBI is also reflected by the fact that investigations against all the companies are not yet over as per Supreme Court’s direction. The charge sheet in itself seems to be manipulated as it has been strangely selective in putting the blame of only some telecom operators while the others are left scot free. For instance, as specified by the CBI in its charge sheet that of the total estimated possible additional revenue, Rs.8,448.95 Crores was to come from the Dual Technology users. But somehow, no dual technology user has been spoken of in the charge sheet and Tata (a dual technology user) has been portrayed as a victim!

Probing further in this, the telecom company of Tata received 3 CDMA licenses and 19 GSM licenses, amounting to Rs 4,930 crores of the estimated Rs Rs 30,984.55 crores, 21 GSM licenses each were issued to Datacom and Loop that amounts to more than Rs.4,000 crores individually, Unitech Wireless’s share to this amount is also around Rs 4,000 crores. Reliance deprived the exchequer of Rs 3,380 crores with its 14 GSM licenses. The amount for Shyam comes out to be Rs 2,650 crores with 21 CDMA and 1 GSM license and for Idea it is Rs 1,815 crores with 9 GSM licenses. Also, no status report has been submitted to the Supreme Court regarding 51 licenses that were issued by the Department of Telecommunications during 2003-2007. Many earlier telecom operators have stepped beyond their contractual terms thus culminating in loss to the exchequer but none of these have been seriously investigated into.

So does this mean that the Government, CBI have been partial while conducting investigations in the country’s biggest scam. How will the CBI explain its selective pick up of names in the charge sheet filed in April 2011. Can it be that CBI is under pressure to find easy targets to feed in media and the country to pacify them with a false relief that investigations are nailing accusseds. Can it be that CBI has to leave out and protect the top selective few and to cover that up, let the investigation move further even if every detail has not been dealt with.

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