4g-spectrum-auction-delay-2020

India’s 2020 4G Spectrum auction set for further delay

by | Oct 8, 2020 | Telecom

The postponement will enable telecom operators to improve their financial stability and prepare better for the spectrum sale.
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The next phase of the 4G spectrum auction in India seems to be heading for another delay due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The auction, which was scheduled for this month, yet to see any government’s cabinet note. The cabinet note is mandatory for the commendation of the spectrum base price and quantity that requires to be put below the mallet.

One needs to note that before any spectrum auction in India, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) issues a formal Notice Inviting Applications (NIA), inviting interested service providers to bid for the mobile services spectrum. The total procedure typically needs around 45 days to fill out before the actual auction starts.

This would be the second consecutive deferment of India’s 4G spectrum auctions, which includes seven bands in 22 circles. The radio waves for grabs include 700Mhz, 800Mhz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, and 2500 MHz bands. Earlier, the government intended to schedule the auction in March this year, but due to COVID-19 related restrictions, it had to postpone it to October.

The government has already pushed the auction of 5G spectrum in the 3300-3600 MHz band to 2021 due to telecom operators’ tight budgets and inability to meet the high reserve prices earmarked by India’s telecom sector regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

India is expecting to earn over INR 4 lakh crores from the auction.

Reliance Jio pushes for early 4G spectrum auction

India’s largest telecom operator, Reliance Jio, seems to be the only telecom operator who wants to speed up the 4G spectrum auction sale. Other telcos, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi), are in no rush and have indicated that they would be happy if the auction is delayed.

“We are unable to find any reasonable rationale behind this sudden pause in a successful and fruitful policy of auctioning all available spectrum every year, since the Supreme Court decision in 2012,” stated Reliance Jio in a letter addressed to DoT Secretary, last month.

The Mukesh Ambani led Jio to expand its infrastructure in India and has a big concern over the 4G spectrum auction delay in India because its airwaves license in the 800 MHz bands is expiring next year. The company, which uses the 800 MHz band of Anil Ambani’s insolvent company Reliance Communications, has recently raised over 1.50 lakh crores funding from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Silver Lake. (See: Jio driving digital shifts in the economy)

Jio is also adding a significant number of subscribers every month, and need more spectrum to provide quality 4G services throughout the nation. Its mobile-first approach has helped it gain a substantial footing in the market, and improved data adoption in India enormously. (See: The Jio ecosystem has begun to unfold)

In contrast, Airtel and VI are financially stressed and witnessing a big challenge in improving their market share. Though their spectrum license in the 1800 MHz band is also due for renewal in 2021, it is less expensive. Both the operators also have backup airwaves to support their subscribers, hence keen to streamline their financial budgets before participating in the 4G spectrum auction in India.

 

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Andhra’s Polavaram project gets Extension

Andhra’s Polavaram project gets Extension

In a major decision, the Union Environment Ministry has today given two years of extension and allowed the construction works related to Polavaram Multipurpose Project. Informing the media in New Delhi the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said that today the order has been signed and ministry has allowed the construction works for two years.

The Union Minister stressed that Polavaram project is very important to the people of Andhra Pradesh as it will irrigate nearly 3 lakh ha of land, generate hydel power with installed capacity of 960 MW and provide drinking water facilities to 540 enroute villages covering 25 lakh populations, particularly in Visakhapatnam, East Godavari and West Godavari and Krishna Districts.

In the year 2011 the then government had asked the Government of Andhra Pradesh to stop construction work of the project but in the year 2014 the NDA government declared the Polavaram project a National project and the ministry kept the “Stop Work Order” in abeyance to allow the construction works. The “Stop Work Order” has been kept in abeyance six times for a year each time. Considering the immense importance of the project this time the Ministry is keeping the “Stop Work Order” in abeyance to allow the construction works for two years without permission to impound water.

The Project envisages construction of Earth-cum-Rock fill dam across river Godavari. The maximum height of the dam is 48 m.

News Source: Press Information Bureau.

Image By IM3847Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Body to resolve disputes between REs, PSUs

Body to resolve disputes between REs, PSUs

In a major decision to facilitate the solar and wind energy projects, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, RK Singh, has approved the formation of a three member Dispute Resolution Committee to consider the unforeseen disputes between solar/wind power developers and PSUs Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) beyond contractual agreement.

The Members of Dispute Resolution Committee under this mechanism will be MF Farooqui (former DOT Secretary/ Heavy Industry Secretary); Anil Swarup (former Coal Secretary); and AK Dubey (former Sports Secretary), as per a Press Information Bureau release .

Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, RK Singh. Source: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

In an earlier statement, emphasizing the importance of this step, Singh had said that the move would give further fillip to the smooth implementation of solar/wind energy projects in India. It fulfills a long pending demand of the industry to resolve expeditiously, unforeseen disputes that may arise beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements.

The Solar and Wind Industry have been demanding setting up of Dispute Resolution Mechanism by MNRE for quite some time, to resolve expeditiously, unforeseen disputes that may arise beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements between solar power developers / wind power developers and SECI/ NTPC.

The issue was considered and it was felt that there is need to erect a transparent, unbiased Dispute Resolution Mechanism, consisting of an independent, transparent and unbiased Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC), for resolving the unforeseen disputes that may arise in implementation of contractual agreements and also for dealing with issues which are beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements between solar power developers/ wind power developers and SECI / NTPC.

The mechanism of Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) will be applicable for all solar/ wind Schemes/ Programmes/ Projects being implemented through/ by SECI/ NTPC.

The DRC will consider following kinds of cases:

(a) All cases of appeal against decisions given by SECI on Extension of Time requests based on terms of contract: All requests for extension of time due to recognized ‘Force Majeure’ events like flood, earthquake, delay in handing over of land by Solar Park Developers, delay in connectivity, etc. will be dealt strictly as per Contractual Agreements. In all such cases, the solar power developers / wind power developers shall make an application for grant of Extension of Time (EoT) within the time specified in the Contractual Agreement. If application is not made within the time limit prescribed in the Contractual Agreement, it shall be summarily rejected by SECI/ NTPC. If application is made within the time limit, the request will be examined and final decision given to solar power developer/ wind power developer within 21 days from the date of application. No separate extension of time shall be granted for overlapping periods of effect by two or more causes. If the developer is not satisfied with the decision of SECI/ NTPC, then it may appeal to the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC), within 21 days of SECI/NTPC’s order after paying a fee, to be decided by the DRC, which in any case shall not be less than 5% of the impact of SECI’s/NTPC’s decision being challenged. This fee shall be deposited into the Payment Security Fund maintained by SECI/ NTPC for the project concerned. In case, the Government upholds the appeal in toto, after taking into consideration the recommendation of DRC, and strikes down the SECI order, then the fee so collected shall be refunded, provided the DRC makes a recommendation for the same and the Government passes a specific order to that effect. The Fee which may be received and is not required to be refunded, shall be credited to the appropriate Payment Security Fund being maintained by SECI/NTPC.

(b) All requests of Extension of Time not covered under the terms of contract: All cases involving unforeseen issues/ circumstances not covered under Contractual Agreements like cases where the site is to be procured by the developer but there is delay in land allotment due to policy change or registration by the Government, delays in grant of proposed connectivity due to court stays, etc., will be placed before the DRC for consideration and make recommendations to Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) for appropriate decision.

The ‘Dispute Resolution Committee’ (DRC) will examine all such cases referred to it, including the cases where the developer is not satisfied with the decision of SECI/NTPC and it decides to appeal after paying the required fee as laid down under Para (ii) (a) above, in a time bound manner and submit its recommendations to the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), not later than 21 days from the date of reference.

The recommendations of the ‘Dispute Resolution Committee’ (DRC) along with MNRE’s observations, will be placed before Minister (NRE) for final decision. The Ministry shall examine and put up such recommendations to Minister (NRE) with the comments of IFD within 21 days of receipt of recommendation from the DRC.

To arrive at any decision, Committee will be free to interact with the relevant parties of the case and shall record their views. For presenting the case before the DRC, no lawyers shall be permitted.

Bharatmala-I has outlay of Rs 5,35,000 Cr

Bharatmala-I has outlay of Rs 5,35,000 Cr

The Bharatmala Pariyojna Phase-I was approved at an estimated outlay of Rs. 5,35,000 Crore. A total of 24,800 kms length of National Highways have been considered in Phase-I as well as 10,000 km residual road works under NHDP. Under this program, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has identified stretches for development of about 9,000 km length of Economic corridors, about 6,000 km length of Inter-corridor and feeder roads, about 5,000 km length of National Corridors Efficiency improvements, about 2,000 km length of Border and International connectivity roads, about 2,000 km length of Coastal and port connectivity roads, about 800 km length of Expressways. No road project in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has been envisaged under Border and International Connectivity roads component of this programme. Total 17 nos. of road projects having an aggregate length of about 701.4 km have been approved under Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I till March, 2019 in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Out of 17 nos. projects, 15 nos. of road projects having an aggregate length of about 631.7 km have been awarded till March, 2019 in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

However, under Border Roads and International Connectivity Roads component of Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I, 07 nos. of road projects with an aggregate length of about 1,042 kms and total cost as Rs. 4,916 crores (approx.) have been awarded till March, 2019 in entire country. Under Coastal Roads and Port Connectivity roads component of this programme, 05 nos. of road projects with total length of about 163 kms and total cost as Rs. 2,469 crores (approx.) have been awarded till March, 2019 in entire country. Progress of all the projects is monitored electronically for ensuring completion of projects as per schedule.

This information was given by the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin J Gadkari in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.

News source: Press Information Bureau.

Swachh Bharat good for ground water: Study

Swachh Bharat good for ground water: Study

Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has said that Swachhata affects all aspects of the environment – be it groundwater, surface water, soil or air – as well as health and well-being of the communities in ODF regions. Praising the Swachh Bharat Mission for bringing a reduction in ground water contamination, he said, the WHO 2018 study had estimated that the Swachh Bharat Mission will save over 3 lakh lives by the time India is Open Defacation Free. Releasing two independent third-party studies conducted on the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), the Minister said, the Mission will continue to positively impact people’s lives for a long time to come.

These studies, commissioned by UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates, were aimed at assessing the environmental impact and communication footprint of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) respectively. The full reports as well as the summary reports of both the studies can be downloaded from mdws.gov.in and sbm.gov.in.

Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar highlighted the significance of launching these studies on World Environment Day. He said that the United Nations, aware that the protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world, designated 5th June as World Environment Day. He added that it is only fitting that UNICEF has chosen this day to release its findings on the positive impact the Swachh Bharat Mission has had on the environment of rural India.

Secretary, Government of India, Parameswaran Iyer, in his opening remarks, shared that the rural sanitation coverage in the country had crossed the 99% mark and that the Mission was in the final stretch of its completion with 30 States and Union Territories already having declared themselves free from open defecation. He said that the Mission is focusing on sustaining the gains of this progress and to extend the momentum to the ODF-plus phase which includes solid and liquid waste management.

Summary of the study findings

Under the “Environmental impact of the Swachh Bharat Mission on Water, Soil, and Food” by UNICEF, groundwater samples were collected and studied from ODF and non-ODF villages of Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal. The study found that, in terms of faecal contamination, non-ODF villages were, on average:

  • 11.25 times more likely to have their groundwater sources contaminated (12.7 times more from contaminants traceable to humans alone)
  • 1.13 times more likely to have their soil contaminated
  • 1.48 times more likely to have food contaminated and 2.68 times more likely to have household drinking water contaminated.
  • The study findings indicated that these substantial reductions may potentially be attributed to the improvement in sanitation and hygiene practices, as well as supportive systems such as regular monitoring and behaviour change messaging, which have all been critical aspects of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen).

IEC footprint study by Gates Foundation

The “Assessment of the reach and value of IEC activities under Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen)” conducted by Dalberg, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, estimated the scale of IEC activities within the Mission and assessed associated monetary and in-kind costs, and outputs such as reach. The study found that:

  • SBM mobilized a spend equivalent worth INR 22,000 to 26,000 crores in monetary and non-monetary IEC activities.
  • Of this spend equivalent, cash expenditure on IEC activities spent by the Government, private sector, and the development community was estimated to be between INR 3,500 – 4,000 crores.
  • Of this cash spend, ~20% (~INR 800 crores) was spent by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), ~35% (~INR 1,250 crores) by the State Sanitation Departments, ~25% (~INR 1,000 crores) by other government ministries, and the other ~20% by the private sector (CSR and business expenditures) and the development sector collectively.
  • An average person living in rural India was exposed to between 2,500 – 3,300 SBM related messages over the last five years.
Gadkari takes charge of transport ministry

Gadkari takes charge of transport ministry

Nitin Gadkari took charge of the office of the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways in New Delhi today. He also holds the portfolio of the Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

Gadkari was Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in the previous government.

Gadkari is a member of Lok Sabha since May, 2014. He was earlier a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council during 1989-2014. He was Minister for PWD in Maharashtra Government during 1995 to 1999.

Climate Change: Javadekar takes charge

Climate Change: Javadekar takes charge

Prakash Javadekar today assumed charge as the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change here today. He was greeted at the office at Paryavaran Bhawan by Environment Secretary Shri C K Mishra and other senior officials of the ministry. Babul Supriyo also assumed charge as Minister of State.

Briefing the media after assuming the charge, the Union Minister said it is like a home coming for him as he already served in the ministry for two years in the first term of NDA government. He stressed that we will strongly reinforce that this ministry is seen as a facilitator and not merely as a regulator. “Economic growth and environment protection should go simultaneously, and we need to work with an increased impetus towards that”, said Javadekar.

After assuming the charge, the Minister also held a meeting with the senior officers of the Ministry where he was briefed on the key initiatives and policy issues of the Ministry.

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