New Delhi: Telecom Minister A Raja will meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony next week claiming ownership of spectrum, saying the Defence has to pay up about Rs5,000 crore for occupying the radio waves so far.
The Department of Telecom will substantiate its claim over the ownership to Antony citing the 1885 Indian Telegraph Act that says Communication Ministry is the sole owner of the spectrum, sources from Department of Telecommunication (DoT) said.
The meeting assumes importance as a Group of Minister, headed by Pranab Mukherjee, looking into the ways and means to vacate the unutilised spectrum from defence forces and other occupants for mobile telephony use is likely to meet this month.
DoT has estimated that about 60 MHz of spectrum is lying unutilised under the occupation of the defence and wants at least radio waves under Air Force (42.5 MHz), for which the alternate network will be ready in two months, to be released for mobile use.
The Defence Ministry, on the other hand, has also claimed ownership over the spectrum and wants to have the network ready for its forces, which may take two years.
Countering the Defence Ministry’s claim, Raja has asked for payment of up to Rs 5,000 crore from the defence corpus for occupying the spectrum so far, taking the stand that it is the Communications Ministry which owns the radio waves not the Defence Ministry as per the 1885 Indian Telegraph Act.
Raja will take up this issue with Antony in the presence of Mukherjee during the meeting, the sources said. Raja’s demand is likely to be countered by the Defence Ministry.