Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Report On The Historic General Strike On 28th February 2012


(The following is the report published by the CITU(Centre Of Indian Trade Unions) on the grand success of the historic general strike in India on 28th February 2012 against the anti worker, anti people liberalisation-privatisation-globalisation policies)

The countrywide General Strike on 28th February 2012 will be recorded as a milestone in the history of the trade union movement in the country. The working class of the country responded magnificently to the call for the General Strike given by all the eleven central trade unions and all India industrial federations in almost all the sectors of the economy. For the first time in the history of our trade union movement, INTUC and BMS both joined the other central trade unions and industrial federations to give the call for an all India General Strike. This unprecedented unity evoked massive response from the workers. As per initial estimates, more than ten crore workers all over the country - from Jammu & Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south, from Assam in the east to Gujarat in the west participated in the strike opposing the anti worker and anti people policies of the government.

This General Strike, the fourteenth after the advent of the neoliberal economic policies in our country is significant because of the unprecedented unity of all the central trade unions and the demands raised by them that reflected the concerns not only of the workers but also of all sections of the toiling people. Besides, joint campaigns at the state and lower levels were also conducted this time on a wider scale. The joint campaign undertaken by the central leadership of the trade unions inspired many independent and state level trade unions to join the strike. Thus the 28th February strike will be etched in the annals of our trade union movement as the biggest ever strike action by the working class till date.

The major demands included concrete measures to curb price rise and provide some relief to the people, effective implementation of all labour laws and stringent punishment to those who flout them, universal social security for all unorganised workers by creating a National Social Security Fund with adequate financial allocations, stopping contractual labour in permanent jobs and equal wages and benefits to the contract workers as the permanent workers of the establishment, universal coverage by minimum wages Act and statutory minimum wage of not less than Rs 10000, pension for all, removal of all ceiling on eligibility for bonus, provident fund etc, and compulsory registration of the trade unions within a time frame of 45 days.

The expectations of the ruling classes that the defeat of the Left Front in West Bengal and the threats of the present chief minister to instil terror among the workers in the state would dampen the strike were totally belied by the workers of West Bengal who participated in the strike in a big way, facing brutal repression and ignoring all threats and intimidation. The impact of the strike was such that the corporate media, which usually chooses to ignore such actions by the working class, was forced to report about it and highlight the fact that West Bengal along with Kerala was the worst hit by the strike.

However, not only in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura but in several other states like Assam, Manipur, most parts of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh etc a bandh like situation prevailed with public transport coming to a grinding halt and shops and markets being completely closed. In many places in West Bengal, police resorted to brutal lathi charge and arrests. Workers peacefully demonstrating in Srinagar in J&K, Bhiwani in Haryana and Guwahati and Numaligarh in Assam were beaten up and arrested by the police. In addition, the striking workers in West Bengal were physically assaulted and injured by the hoodlums let loose by the ruling party to break the strike. Normal activities in many of the industrial areas in the national capital Delhi and the National Capital Region of Faridabad and Gurgaon were hit due to the massive strike action by the workers.

The CITU congratulated the working class of the country for the massive response to the strike all over the country and across the sectors. CITU saluted the heroic resistance by the striking workers to threats and intimidating tactics of the state government and the hoodlums of the ruling party to break the strike in West Bengal and extended all solidarity to them.

The strike encompassed workers and employees from almost all the sectors including the strategic sectors as well as the unorganised sector, as the following reports indicate.

Strike was almost total in the entire financial sector in the country including banks and insurance involving around 20 lakh workers and employees.
All the central public sector units and major industrial units in the private sector in Bangalore and Mysore were completely paralysed
Strike was total in all the ports in the country; even in Haldia port, in West Bengal which witnessed the terror unleashed by the ruling party in the state, the strike had visible impact
Around 6 million state government employees, teachers, employees of state public sector units, boards and corporations covering almost all the states except a few, participated in the strike; even in West Bengal where the government issued threats of break in service and other measures of victimisation for participating in strike, the state government employees responded in a magnificent way.
More than 2000 workers including CITU leaders Manik Sanyal and Zia ul Alam were arrested.
Central government employees all over the country participated in the strike in a big way; in the defence production sector, participation in the strike was around 80%
In the Major Defence PSUs viz., BEL and HAL, strike was almost total in all the units throughout the country. Workers in four plants of BHEL in Trichy, Ranipet and Bangalore were on total strike.
Majority of the 6 lakhs coal mine workers in nine companies – ECL, BCCL, CCL, SECL, NCL, CMPDIL etc joined the strike; strike was partial in Singareni Collieries; strike was near total in the non coal mining belt spread over Jharkhand, Odisha, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh
More than 70% of the telecom workers and employees in BSNL participated in the strike
The strike in the petroleum sector- in the upstream, refineries and marketing, was total in the eastern, north eastern and southern parts of the country while more than 70% workers in this sector in the western and northern India participated in the strike
In the steel industry, contract workers in eight steel plants participated in the strike en masse; 90% of regular workers in Vizag steel plant, 85% of them in Salem steel plant, and 70% of Alloy steel plant workers in Durgapur participated in the strike. In Durgapur steel plant and IISCO strike was 50% and in Rourkela steel plant it was 40%; strike among regular workers in Bokaro and Bhilai steel plants was however partial.
The participation of transport workers, particularly of the state road transport corporations in the strike was massive in many states, like Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chandigarh, etc completely paralysing the public transport; in several states private transport workers too responded to the strike magnificently
Electricity workers including the contract workers and daily wage workers participated in the strike in large numbers in many states
Plantation workers in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala participated in the strike en masse; in Tamil Nadu, Assam and Karnataka too strike was massive among the plantation workers
In all the states the unorganised sector workers in brick kiln, construction, head load workers, loading and unloading workers, beedi workers, mandi workers, auto rickshaw drivers, etc participated in the strike in a massive way and also in the rallies, demonstrations, rail and rasta rokos in huge numbers.
Strike was total among the construction workers in the organised sector including in all the Hydel projects in Himachal Pradesh
Around 15 lakhs anganwadi employees and lakhs of ASHAs and mid day meal workers participated in the strike; in several states they held demonstrations and burnt the effigies of the government
Overwhelming majority of the 1.5 lakhs medical and sales representatives all over the country joined the strike
Lakhs of fishers and fisheries workers all over the country joined the strike

The massive participation of workers of all affiliations and irrespective of any affiliations in the strike indicates their anger and resentment at the attacks on their working and living conditions and the determination to resist them. This was also reflected in the wide support the strike received from the common people. While the Left parties firmly supported the strike, in some states some local political parties also extended their support. The reports received from different states illustrate the area and the spread of the strike.

Some state wise details of the strike, in addition to the impact on the banking and insurance sectors, and state and central government offices, which were severely affected all over the country, are given below:

Andhra Pradesh

A highly successful strike was observed all over the state, its impact visible even at the mandal level. Workers in 1072 mandals and 138 municipal towns in all the 23 districts in the state participated in the strike. The strike in most of the public sector units in Vizag and Hyderabad was total. It was total in Vizag Steel, Shipyard, BSNL, ECIL, BEL, HCL, and BHEL (R&D). In Singareni Collieries 80% contract workers and 20% permanent workers went on strike. It was significant that the strike was total in the SEZs in Visakhapatnam and in the Apachi SEZ in Kadapa where thousands of workers in Brandix and other units participated. 240 workers were arrested and non bailable cases were foisted on them in Kadapa. While all the contract workers in HPCL and Defence participated in the strike, participation of permanent workers was 50% in HPCL and 75% in Defence. In BHPV 75% of employees went on strike. In Hyderabad 1800 units in private sector with more than 2 lakhs workers were closed; in Srikakulam strike was 100% in Aurobindo Pharma and workers in 16 private industrial units went on strike. Auto rickshaw drivers in 120 stands in Hyderabad were off the roads. Private transport in several major cities like Visakhapatnam, Adilabad etc went off the road. Hundreds of railway workers demonstrated in support of the strike in Visakhapatnam and some other cities. Strike was also massive in the industrial areas in Medak and Ranga Reddy districts. 11 workers were arrested in Medak. Strike was 100% among the anganwadi employees, mid day meal workers, ASHAs, etc; lakhs of beedi workers, construction workers, loading and unloading workers, shop employees, small vendors etc participated in the strike and in the demonstrations that were held at the mandal level. As per initial reports around 414709 workers participated in the demonstrations.

Assam

The strike resulted in a virtual ‘bandh’ like situation in the state. Road transport, both private and public, was totally off the road. In Oil India, Numaligarh refineries, Coal India, Powergrid Corporation, the strike was almost total; it was partial among the regular workers in BRPL and Digboi while all the contract workers were on strike. It was highly successful in the paper mills. The tea plantations, the major industry of the state, witnessed unprecedented massive strike due to the joint initiative of CITU and INTUC. The strike was also massive in BSNL, postal, defence and other central government establishments. However, it was partial among the state government employees.

More than 2000 workers were arrested throughout the state including Asit Dutta and Tapan Sharma president and secretary of Assam state committee of CITU and Ananta Deka, MLA.

Bihar

Most of the industrial units in Hazipur, Patna, Begusarai remained closed due to the strike. Auto rickshaws remained off the road in Patna, Bhagalpur and Muzaffarpur. Beedi workers in Jamui participated in the strike; Jute mills in Samastipur were paralysed. Unorganised workers joined the strike in all the districts and participated in massive rallies

Chattisgarh

Strike was successful in the coal mines and other industries in the states. In Rajhara and Nandini Iron ore mines, strike was 100%. State Govt Power Plant at Korba and also the Power Plants of LANKO and BCCP in the adjoining area were closed due to strike. A most successful strike was witnessed in BALCO. In the 2nd shift, the striking workers were attacked by the security guards and local goons injuring many workers; three workers including President of CITU union in BALCO were severely injured and hospitalised. 15 workers including Lalji Kurre, the president of the BALCO workers’ union were injured. Strike among Beedi workers, Anganwadi workers, head-load workers in mandis and construction workers throughout the state was almost total.

Delhi

Workers in most of the industrial areas in the capital struck work and took out massive joint processions and demonstrations voicing the demands. Rasta roko was held in several places. In some industrial areas, the employers themselves closed the units for the day in view of the strike. Wazirpur industrial area in North Delhi was totally shut down, while most of the factories in Jahangirpuri, GT Karnal Road and Bhorgarh in the same area were closed with thousands of workers joining the processions. Half of all the factories in Okhla Phase I industrial area in South Delhi were closed due to the strike; around 10000 workers marched on the streets; the street vendors also participated in the strike. Around 200 factories in Mayapuri industrial area in South West Delhi were closed; workers conducted rasta roko blocking traffic for around one hour and burnt the effigy of the government. In the Mongolpuri Phase I and Phase II industrial areas in North West Delhi, workers went on strike and around 7000 participated in the procession. Udyog nagar was closed. 4000 workers joined the demonstrations in Kirti nagar industrial area. The loading and unloading workers in several markets joined the strike. Strike was total in Jal Board. Medial and sales representatives were on strike. The airport cargo workers went on strike for 2 hours. Anganwadi employees also participated in the strike and demonstrations.

Gujarat

In Gujarat, for the first time, more than 5 lakhs workers participated in the strike. Big processions and demonstrations were held in many cities and district headquarters. The strike was total in Kandla and Bhavnagar ports; it was 60% in the Naulaki port; around 20000 loading and unloading workers participated in the strike. Medical representatives, beedi workers, hawkers, auto rickshaw drivers, in their thousands joined the strike. Strike was total among the 92000 anganwadi employees in the state; they participated in large numbers in the joint trade union demonstrations, in 4-5 districts outnumbering the other sections of workers. Around 15000 ASHAs too joined the strike. 70% of workers of Ahmedabad bus service participated in the strike while the state road transport workers and postal employees withdrew the strike. Strike was total in Baroda engineering, chemical, Makerpura GIDC and Nandesari GIDC; industrial workers, mostly in the engineering, foundries, ceramics, plastics etc in Junagarh, Rajkot, Bharuch, Surendranagar, Ahmedabad, Vallabh Vidya nagar joined the strike, as also the municipal corporation workers in Bhavnagar. The power loom workers and a section of diamond workers and the chemical workers in Surat also participated in the strike. Around 50000 workers participated in the demonstrations held in different places in the state.

Haryana

The strike was total in Haryana Roadways, tourism, non teaching staff of universities, educational board and municipal corporations all over the state; effective strike was observed in the health, PWD and power sectors; workers affiliated to CITU, HMS, BMS and other unions in the industrial area of Faridabad went on strike; many workers not affiliated to any union also joined the strike. The national highway was blocked for one hour. Demonstrations were held by CITU in all the district headquarters and at the division level also; in Panipat, around 2000 participated in rasta roko for 1 hour and rail roko for 30 minutes; in Jind and Narwana around 1100 and 1400 workers conducted rasta roko; in Bhiwani around 160 workers were arrested; police also resorted to lathi charge;

Around 30000 workers in dozens of units in Gurgaon went on strike; RDC, Xerox India, Hema engineering, Suzuki motorcycles, IMT Manesar, Munjal Soha, Satyam Auto, Hylex, Lumex, MESL, IFB, GKN, Rico Auto and several other units participated in the strike; anganwadi employees, ASHAs, mid day meal workers, village chowkidars, sweepers, forest workers, construction workers etc in the unorganised sector also participated in the strike in large numbers. Himachal Pradesh

Strike was total in all the Hydel power plants in the state. It was also observed all over the state by the anganwadi employees and mid day meal workers; hotel workers and construction workers also joined the strike. In the industrial areas in Solan, Parawanoo and Una districts industrial workers joined the strike action in a big way.

Jammu and Kashmir

There was a complete strike in the central PSUs like NHPC, Power Grid, etc and in state PSUs like SRTC, JK Minerals, Kalakot Mines and Baglihar Hydle Project. Besides, construction workers, Four Lane Road and Tunnel Workers, Sangaldan Railway Project workers, ASHAs, anganwadi employees, railway loading and unloading workers, medical sales and representatives, daily wagers of PDD were on strike in Jammu Region.

For the first time a joint demonstration of workers led by CITU, AITUC, BMS and INTUC was held in Jammu in which around 3000 – 4000 workers participated. In the Kashmir valley too there was complete strike in the central and state public sector undertakings including NHPC. ASHAs and anganwadi employees also participated in the strike. A rally was organised by CITU in Sher e Kashmir Park in Srinagar in which around 2000 workers from different unions participated. Police resorted to brutal lathi charge and used tear gas shells on the workers when they tried to march towards the Divisional Commissioner’s office after the public meeting. The workers including anganwadi employees and ASHAs put up stiff resistance against the highhandedness of the police force. Dozens of workers including Abdul Rashid Najar, secretary of J&K state committee of CITU were injured; 2 workers became unconscious; more than 20 were arrested

Jharkhand

The strike was successful in the state; 80% of coal workers including the contract workers in all the coal companies in the state - CCL, BCCL, ECL, CMPDI and IICM participated in the strike; around 1.5 lakh coal workers in the coal fields in Dhanbad, Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Latehar, Bokaro, Godda and Deogarh districts participated in the strike; strike was total among state government, postal, BSNL, telecom, central water board, GSI, Income Tax and other central government employees; 90% of electricity employees were on strike; it was 100% in Mython thermal power plant; contract and casual workers of DVC joined the strike; around 1 lakh beedi workers and 15000 stone quarry workers in Sahebganj and Pakur districts of Santal Paragana; strike was total in state transport; in private transport strike was effective in Dumka, Pakur and Sahebganj while it was partial in Dhanbad, Hazaribagh, and Jamshedpur; loading and unloading workers of MGR working for NTPC were totally on strike; more than 5 lakh construction workers went on strike; workers of 800 small industrial units in Adityapur industrial area of Saraikela - Kharsanwa participated in the strike and conducted a dharna; 300 workers were arrested; strike was total in Hindusthan Copper Limited, in Barud factory; more than 5000 medical representatives participated in the strike; in IFICO sales wing around 80% were on strike; work in mines came to a total halt; rice mills in Dalbhumgarh and Chukulia were closed; strike was observed in the engineering units in Dhanbad and Ramgarh districts; 20% regular workers and 80% contract workers in Bokaro steel went on strike; in HEC in Hatia in Ranchi around 30% workers including contract workers participated in strike; anganwadi employees went on strike and around 1500 held demonstration in Godda; however strike had no impact on Tata industrial area except for a few contract workers; a massive rally was organised in Ranchi by CITU and courted arrest; several CITU leaders including the president and general secretary of the state committee, Sudhir Das and DD Ramanandan were arrested.

Karnataka

The strike call evoked spontaneous response from the workers in different sectors in the state. In many districts, a complete bandh like situation prevailed with markets closed, transport paralysed and streets deserted. It was reported that in around 41 taluks out of the total 175 there was total bandh while in another 15, there was partial bandh.

Strike was total in the public sector enterprises of BEL, BHEL, HAL, ITI, BEML and Hatti Gold mines, with the contract workers participating in their full strength. Strike was also total in the private sector – in Bosch, Volvo, Toyota, Federal Mogul, Kennametal, L&T, ITC, WIPRO, Coca Cola, Pepsicola, Vikrant, Harihara Polyfibres, Kirloskar Electricals, Rajashree Cements, INDALCO, Jindal and other big industries.
In Bangalore the industrial strike was total and all the industries closed their operations. Auto drivers also kept away from roads and participated in the strike. Thousands of workers took out protest marches in all industrial areas and blocked highways. The workers took a largest protest march in the central part of the City and blocked road for more than 4 hours at KG Road in Bangalore. Road block was also organised in Mysore.

Anganwadi employees in 98 taluks participated in the strike; around 300 – 900 anganwadi employees joined the demonstrations in each of these taluks. Mid day meal workers, auto rickshaw drivers, head load workers, beedi, gram panchayat and construction workers etc all over the state joined the strike and participated in large numbers in the protest actions.

The Pre University examinations scheduled on 28th February have been postponed. Several Colleges and Schools in the limits of 23 districts were closed down on the call of Students Federation of India in support of workers strike.

Kerala

The strike is total in the state. 18 trade unions including all the central trade unions and several local trade unions like STU, KTUC participated in the strike. Workers in the two industrial centres of Kerala viz. Kochi and Alwaye in Ernakuklam district and Kanchikode in Palakkad district participated in the strike totally. Strike in the Kochi port was almost total. The industries under the state and central public sector as well as private sector did not function.

As per preliminary assessment, a total of 75 lakh workers struck work in the state. Shops were closed even in the remotest villages. Vehicular traffic was almost absent. Motor transport workers totally took part in the strike. Unorganised sector workers totally participated in the strike. Agriculture workers, Plantation workers, cashew workers, fisheries workers, coir workers, construction workers, artisans, hand loom, khadi, beedi workers etc. went on strike. Strike in the electricity sector and BSNL was total.

State government employees totally struck work ignoring the dais non declared by the state government. Joint rallies were organised all over the state in district head quarters, industrial centres and panchayat head quarters and towns. Thousands of workers participated in rallies.

Madhya Pradesh

The impact of strike was widely felt in the state. In Gwalior, there was a total bandh and workers and other sections of working people resorted to rail roko. Strike was total in BSNL and Defence industry. Medical representatives all over the state joined the strike and held demonstratins. The functioning of the state and central government offices was badly affected due to the strike. In coal industry, the strike was near complete in different areas of WCL; it was 95% in Pathkhera, 75% in Pench kanhan, 60% in SECL’s Kotama, 40% in Hasdev and Pali 40. However, in BHEL in Bhopal, only 20 – 25% permanent workers participated in the strike. All the contract workers in NFL, Guna, in Sanjay Gandhi Power House in Pali participated in the strike.

It was total among the anganwadi employees, ASHAs and USHAs, while 80% loading and unloading workers in the mandis participated in the strike. Industrial workers held massive demonstrations and rallies in the different places in the state. In all the district headquarters big joint rallies and demonstrations were organised.

Maharashtra

The working class of Maharashtra joined the all India strike in a big way. It is estimated that more than 20 lakh workers from the organised and unorganised sectors participated in the strike. Mumbai and JNPT Ports were paralysed. Massive strike was reported from industrial areas of Mumbai, Pune, Solapur, Thane, Nasik, Ichhalkaranji, Nagpur and other areas. Strike in HAL, Nasik was total. All the 35 district head quarters witnessed big processions of striking workers and employees. A huge rally was held at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. Bharatiya Kamgar Maha Sangh also joined the strike.

Manipur

Strike was effective in the state with the attendance in state government offices being badly affected; central government offices like post offices, BSNL, telecom and telegraph offices, AG office and insurance offices were closed; passenger vehicles, petrol tankers, goods trucks etc were off the road; shops and markets in Imphal and other towns in the state were closed; educational institutions, both government and private were also closed

Odisha

There was bandh like situation in the state on 28th February. Transport came to a complete halt; auto rickshaws did not ply and shops were closed. In Rourkela steel plant around 40% regular workers and 100% contract workers participated in the strike. Adhunik Metalics, OCL Steel, Iron ore mines and sponge iron factories and other industrial units in Sundergarh district were completely closed. Small scale units were also totally closed. Mines and industries in and around Badbil could not function. Work in Paradeep port and other industries in Paradeep came to a standstill due to the strike. The headquarters of Mahanadi coalmines was closed.

Contract workers in NTPC in Talcher thermal plant totally joined the strike. In NALCO in Angul and Damanjodi, the strike was partial; the regular workers held dharna near the factory gates while the contract workers joined the strike. Workers in the industrial estates of Balasore, Bhadrak, Sambalpur, Khurda, and Jajpur Road joined the strike paralysing production.

Thirty thousand auto drivers along with the state road transport workers joined the strike totally paralysing public transport. Train services were disrupted by the picketing by the workers in all the major railway stations in the state. Anganwadi employees, ASHAs and mid day meal workers participated in the strike almost totally. More than 1 lakh workers all over the state participated in the rallies and demonstrations. Around 1000 including Bishnu Mohanty were arrested and detained in Rourkela.

Punjab

The strike evoked massive response from the working class in Punjab and Chandigarh. Around 80000 industrial workers in Ludhiana, Bathinda, Sangrur, Nawahshahr, Ropar, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Rajkot, Patiala, Derabassi, Mohali, Batala, Malekotla, Ahmedgarh, Mandigobindpur, Jagraon, Rajpura, Patran etc in around 120 big and medium and around 400 small scale industrial units participated in the strike.

Thousands of brick kiln workers, anganwadi employees, ASHAs, mid day meal workers, forest workers, workers of Food Corporation of India, construction workers, private transport workers, loading and unloading workers, state transport corporation workers, medical representatives went on strike. Around 8000 Punjab Roadways workers observed strike for two hours and held rallies and demonstrations near the bus depots. 65% of the electricity workers in Punjab and around 70% in Chandigarh joined the strike. Strike was total in the defence sector, 70% in BSNL. Rallies and demonstrations were held in 110 places; road blocks in 50 places. In many places where no joint trade union rally was held anganwadi employees organised rallies on their own.

Rajasthan

Rajasthan was one of the states where the strike had a big and visible impact. All the offices of central government in the state were closed due to the strike; no bus of state transport plied; all the 48 state road transport corporation depots were closed; autos were off the street; in Jodhpur, the entire public transport was affected. 85% of the textile units in the Bhilwara industrial hub were closed; auto rickshaws were off the road in Sikar, Hanumangarh, Jhunjhunu and Sri Ganga nagar. Factories and industrial establishments in Bhilwara, Rajsamund, Jodhpur, Kota, Sri Ganganagar, Jaipur, and Khetri etc were closed due to the strike; big industrial establishments like J& K Tyres, NBC Bearings, Anil Steel, Hindusthan Zinc, Khetri Copper etc were totally closed. Strike was total in Atomic Power Plant in Rawatbhata. State government employees and teachers took mass casual leave.

Tamil Nadu

Strike was massive in the state. The strike was total in banks, insurance, BSNL, state and central government offices, district collectorates, block development offices, income tax offices, and medical department in the entire state. Participation was impressive in the units of state public sector units in electricity, transport, civil supplies, Tamil Nadu Minerals, Poompuhar shipping, Tamil Nadu Magnesite, Dalmia Magnesite, TWAD Board. Strike was total at BHEL Ranipet, IOC, Chennai Port, New and Old Ports at Tuticorin. 90% participation was reported at BHEL Trichy, SAIL Salem, Defence units at Avadi. It was near total in the manufacturing units in and around Chennai which include TVS Group, Simpson, Ashok Leyland, MRF, Eveready, TI Group, Audco Valves, Rane Engine Valves, Rane Motors, L & T, Corborandum, Ennore Foundry, Areva, KCP, Kaparo, Asian Paints, SSL-TTK, HM Lancer, Indian Furniture, TCL, Bharat Aluminium, etc. Strike was 100% in BHEL, Ranipet. Workers of Mettur Power plant, state transport, electricity, cooperatives, road transport, sanitary workers in the local bodies etc went on strike all over the state.

The participation of the workers as well as some of the employers in the small and tiny industries was noteworthy. Coimbatore witnessed a bandh like situation with almost all textiles and industrial units being shut. Autos did not ply. More than 50% of the traders also participated in the call by closing down their shutters. More than three lakh workers have reportedly participated in the district. In Tiruppur, around five lakh workers belonging to hosiery industry, power loom, and metal utensil manufacturing industry have effectively responded to the call. More than 2000 hosiery and their subsidiary units remained closed. In Hosur, strike was total in the strategic automobile industry including the main manufacturing units of TVS and Leyland. In Dindigul strike was total in more than 50 tanneries; 60% of autos did not ply. Strike was total in Suzlon industry in Puducherry, where a rasta roko was also held.

Lakhs of workers in the unorganised sector – the plantation workers in Salem, Nilgiris, Dindigul and other districts, beedi workers in Tirunelveli and Vellore, the salt pan workers including the government salt pan workers in Tuticorin, construction workers, loading and unloading workers, auto drivers, small vendors, tailoring workers, road transport workers, hand loom workers, anganwadi employees, etc - all over the state participated in large numbers in the strike and the demonstrations.

Around one lakh workers participated in the demonstrations held all over the state on the occasion.

Tripura

Strike was total in all sectors in the state resulting in a bandh like situation. Transport was completely paralysed. Workers in different sectors like plantation, electricity, construction, beedi, anganwadi employees, mid day meal workers, ASHAs etc went on strike and held massive demonstrations.

Uttar Pradesh

Despite the ongoing elections to the state assembly, the 28th February strike evoked good response from the employees and workers in the state. All the offices of public sector banks and insurance companies remained closed. Medical and sales representatives were on strike. The employees of Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) expressed their anger by wearing black badges. The glass bangle workers in Firozabad were on strike and participated in a big rally along with construction workers, hotel workers and bank and insurance employees.

West Bengal

The 28th February strike was highly successful in the state despite the severe repression let loose by the administration and the hooligans of the ruling party in the state with the chief minister herself issuing threats of victimisation and suppression.

90% of the tea garden workers in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and North Dinajpur participated in the strike; the Adivasi Vikas Parishad also joined the strike. In Jute industry, strike was 85%; in coal 82%; in steel it was 65%. Hosiery industry witnessed total strike. Except very few, all the engineering units in Hooghly, Howrah, North and South 24 Paraganas and Kolkata were closed. Significantly 85% IT sector workers in Salt Lake participated in the strike. All the workers and employees of state electricity board, CESC, DVC, NTPC and Power Grid went on strike, except for emergency duties. The electricity consumption was 600 megawatt less than on an ordinary working day.

Transport service was severely affected due to the strike. The train services were irregular; the local trains were deserted; the few taxis that ran in the morning went off the roads by the afternoon; 80% auto rickshaws were off the road. Private bus operators were threatened to run the buses but there were very few passengers. In different districts, NBSTC, SBSTC, Surface transport authorities failed to run the buses; people did not board the buses that were forcibly put into service. The launch services were totally stopped. Unorganised workers participated in the strike in a massive way. Except in a few towns, where the workers were threatened by the TMC hooligans, municipal workers all over the state participated in the strike. Most of the establishments in the Bantala leather complex were closed. Workers of IOC, ONGC, BPCL, HPCL participated in the strike; Budge Budge terminal was closed. Around 50% of the workers in the Haldia industrial area took part in the strike, despite the threat by the TMC. 90% of BSNL employees and 75% of Defence employees were on strike.

More than 2000 leaders and workers including Manik Sanyal and Zia ul Alam, leaders of the plantation workers and working committee members of CITU were arrested. Police resorted to severe lathi charge and arrests in many places. Srikumar Mukherjee, former minister and leader of IOC union, journalists of Star Anand and 24 Ghanta were attacked. In West Midnapore, anganwadi employees and school teachers were threatened of dire consequences. In Uttarpara, insurance employees and officers were physically assaulted.

Reports of strike by workers of some industrial units and establishments were received from Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. In Goa also port workers and workers of some industrial units joined the strike. In Port Blair of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Govt employees took staged day-long mass dharna in support of the General Strike.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

28th February 2012 General Strike-The Mightiest Protest


Today the 28th February 2012, Indian working class is going on the 14th General Strike against the anti worker, anti people liberalisation-privatisation-globalisation policies imposed by the ruling classes—the capitalists and landlords lead by the big capitalists—through the Central Government and the various State Governments representing their interests.

Irrespective of their banners and trades, the employees and the workers of all sectors are participating in the strike. The Central and State Government employees, the employees and workers of the Central and State PSUs, the employees of banks and insurance sector, the employees of telecom sector, the millions of unorganised workers of all sectors are participating in the strike. All the Central Trade Unions having various ideologies representing left, right and centre, and all the unions and federations not affiliated to any central trade union are participating in this strike. Several political parties have extended their support to the strike in various states. But the West Bengal Government lead by the Trinamool Congress issued a circular threatening to take disciplinary action against those participating in the strike on case by case basis!This reveals the fact that the Trinamool Congress is anti worker and anti people and is trying to take away all the gains achieved by the working class and the peasantry during the 34 years rule of the Left Front in the State. But the working class and the people of West Bengal will definitely give a fitting reply to this attack on their rights by the Trinamool Congress.

The UPA Government lead by the Congress is not even prepared to discuss with the trade unions on the demands raised by the working class in the strike notice. On the other hand, it is trying to impose more and more attacks on the livelihood of the working class and the people in order to enable the Indian and Foreign big capitalists and the capitalist-ladlord alliance to loot the economy and the people.

Hence the General Strike against these anti worker and anti people policies is very much the necessity to resist this attack.

It is to be noted that in the countries where the working class failed to organise the strikes and struggles against these liberalisation policies, the PSUs were privatised fully, the job and pension security was lost and the social welfare benefits of the people were cut. But in India this did not happen in a big way. Still most of the PSUs remained as PSUs, the banks and insurance remained as PSUs and could not be privatised and still the system of payment of pension by the Governments to their employees is continuing except for those recruited after 1-1-2004. The Governments at the centre and states are compelled to adopt some welfare measures for the workers and for the people. It is due to the struggles in each sector and due to the general strikes against the liberalisation policies. The strike to day on 28th February 2012 is the 14th General Strike against the liberalisation-privatiosation-globalisation policies since 1991. The working class of India has determined to make this General Strike today a grand success. 

This struggle has to be further carried forward in order to put a stop to the anti worker and anti people policies.







Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The issues faced by the telecom companies after the Supreme Court Judgment


As per the Supreme Court judgment, the spectrum that would be available after implementation of the cancellation of the 122 licenses given illegally has to be auctioned. The auction process has to be completed by 2-6-2012(the date of completion of 4 months after the judgment of the Supreme Court.

But it is reported in the newspapers that the DoT is finding it difficult to auction the spectrum within such a short period of 4 months. It says the process of auctioning the spectrum will require 13 months time. It will require 95 days to study the TRAI’s proposals on the auction of spectrum(The TRAI is yet to submit its proposals), to fix the reserve price for the sale of the bandwidth of the spectrum and get the approval from the empowered GoM(Group Of Ministers) looking into spectrum related issues. After this, another 245 days are required for completion of the auction process.The DoT, as reported in the newspapers, may seek the approval of the Supreme Court for extending the deadline for completing the auction process.

Besides this, the DoT also has to decide on the fate of the licenses given between 2001 to 2007, since those licenses(total 110, 73 GSM and 37 dual technology) also suffer from the same irregularities and illegalities contained in the 122 licenses cancelled by the Supreme Court.

The DoT also has to decide about what has to be done with the 3G spectrum granted to Idea Cellular and S Tel in the service areas (circles) where their 2G licenses were cancelled by the Supreme Court.

As per an estimate, after the cancellation of the 122 licenses, the DoT will have 624.60 MHz of 2G spectrum at its disposal. It will go upto 923.80  MHz after the defence forces vacate the spectrum available with them by migration to Optic Fibre Cable.

It is understood that the telecom companies, whose licenses are cancelled by the Supreme Court, are adopting different strategies. S Tel, which has its operations in 6 circles with 35 lakh customers, has sent SMS to its customers that they can use MNP to migrate to other operators. It plans to close its operations since it is not willing to participate in the upcoming spectrum auction.It found its business unviable. It’s spokesman stated, “ Our infrastructure and media vendors have intensified disconnection of services, since the passing of the judgment by the SC, considering that there is now no chance of the banks disbursing the funds. Necessary communication has already been issued to the MNP Serrvice Providers to ensure that port outs are seamlessly carried out for the benefit of the subscribers who choose this option”.

But on the other hand, the Uninor and Systema Shyam(MTS), whose licenses also were cancelled by the Supreme Court, have intensified their advertisements to attract more subscribers, hiked their dealers’ margins, and even in some cases cut the tariffs, so as not to lose their customers. Uninor stopped its plans to raise tariffs, issued advertisements in massive scale saying “ 4 crore people would love us to stay” and promoting “pay less, talk more” campaign. MTS alos resorted to increase in advertisements and offered rock bottom tariff plans. It has 1.5 crore customers. It posted a loss of Rs 1009 crore for the quarter ending December 2011. Inspite of this, it resorted to tariff cuts to attract customers. It appears that Etisalaat DB, which operates under Cheers brand with 1.6 million (16 lakhs) customers and hence a clear laggard in a market of 85 crores customers, has decided to close its operations.

Telenor, the Norway Company, a partner in the Uninor along with the Indian real estate company Unitech, has served a notice to Unitech for separation on account of fraud and mis representation.  Telenor invested Rs 14000 crores so far in India. Telenor wants to form a new entity to continue its existing business including its existing customers and employees. The said new entity will participate in the auction to acquire the spectrum. The new entity will have 74% equity from the Telenor and the remaining 26% from its Indian partners. Till such time the transfer of customers and employees to the new entity takes place, they will continue with the Uninor. But the Unitech, the minority partner in the Uninor, is opposing this transfer of the entire business of Uninor to such a new entity and is threatening to fight legally and also will try to block such a transfer,  in the  Board meeting of the Uninor. But Telenor retorted saying that in case of fraud and misrepresentation, it can unilaterally declare the shareholders’ agreement as cancelled.

While DoT has not filed any review petition against the Supreme Court judgment cancelling 122 licenses, the Idea Cellular and Videocon filed clarificatory petitions in the Supreme Court seeking a clarification for exempting their licenses from cancellation. Idea says it has applied for the license in the concerned circles in 2005 it self, but it has been delayed unjustly and has been clubbed among the 122 licenses unjustly.If it was given the license with in 30 days as per the procedure, it would not have been a part of the licenses required to be cancelled as per the Supreme Court judgment (The license of Idea Cellular for 9 circles were cancelled by the Supreme Court. But if the licenses of Idea are not to be cancelled, then the licenses of no body need be cancelled since the same irregularity is involved in all the licenses whether allotted in 2008 during the tenure of the Minister A.Raja. If its licenses are to be cancelled, then all the licenses allotted during 2001 to 2007 also require to be cancelled since the same illegality prevails in all the licenses issued between after 2001, until 2008). Tata Teleservices may also file petition in Supreme Court for exempting its 3 licenses from cancellation. Uninor and Sistema Shyam also likely to file review petitions requesting not to cancel their licenses. The telecom minister Kapil Sibal denied that the government plans to join the case if any of these telcos filed a review petition.

The operators like Uninor, MTS etc whose licenses are cancelled by the Supreme Court demanded the Government that the auction for the spectrum should take place in two stages and in the first stage, only the companies whose licenses are cancelled by the Supreme Court only should be allowed. But the old operators like Airtel, Vodafone etc have demanded that all should be allowed in the auction so that they can get additional spectrum.

The DoT and TRAI are unlikely to agree for thee demand of the new entrants whose licenses are cancelled. The telecom department may allow the more than 30 companies who applied for license in 2008. This will pave the way for companies outside this list of 30 companies as well as the incumbents like Airtel, Vodafone etc to participate in the auction. Airtel which demands that the auction should be open for all says that allowing all will result in most efficient allocation of spectrum and a better value to the government for the spectrum.

It is alkso understood that the telecom department may allow foreign companies to participate in this auction without an Indian partner, with 100% FDI, with the condition that after getting the spectrum in the auction, such foreign companies have to reduce their stake to 74% by allowing Indian partners for the remaining 26% stake, with in 6 months. Such a method, it was said, was already adopted in the case of the auction of 3G and BWA spectrum. For example, the US based Qualcomm was allowed to participate in the BWA spectrum auction and after it succeeded in getting the spectrum in the auction, it was asked to dilute its stake from 100% to 74% within 6 months.

But whether such an auction allowing all will result in a higher price for the spectrum and consequent increase in the tariff to the customer? As per the analysts of the telecom sector, the price of the spectrum would not escalate in the auction as happened in the case of 3G spectrum auction. The reason is that the financial conditions of the old players like Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance etc are not strong enough to allow such escalation of spectrum price. The old companies have already invested huge amounts for 3G spectrum by taking loans and going for loan again to get 2G spectrum at a higher value will be difficult for them. As on 31-12-2011, Airtel has a debt of Rs 72,670 crore, Idea Cellular Rs 13,076 crore and that of Reliance Communications Rs 38,200 crore.

Another analyst says that while the old operators like Airtel, Vodafone etc may not be able to bid aggressively, the foreign Companies like Telenor (Uninor), Etisalat, backed by their Governments would be in a better financial position to bid.

But all the companies may be cautious enough not to bid for higher amounts for the spectrum.

The Government may take its final decision on all these issues, with in the next one month.

The net result may be that the role of FDI will further increase due to the decisions likely to be taken by the Government. The policy direction of the Government is such that it tends to encourage foreign and Indian big capitalists and at the expense of the public sector and the people. Why should the foreign companies with 100% FDI be allowed to participate in the bidding when the rule is that the FDI in a telecom company should not exceed 76%? Why should the Old Operators like Airtel, Vodafone etc having more than 6.2 MHz spectrum be exempted from paying the charge for the extra spectrum held by theem beyond the 6.2 MHz spectrum? Why the BSNL, which is a PSU carrying enormous social obligations, pay the price for the 2G and 3G spectrum where as in China, the PSU telecom companies are not asked to pay thee price for the spectrum?

(Based on the news in the Economic Times and The Hindu Business Line)






Sunday, February 19, 2012

Decisions favoring monopoly in telecom services


Statement issued by the Minister conveying the decisions taken
On 15th February 2012, the Minister of Communications&Information Technology issued a statement conveying the following decisions taken by the Telecom Department. (The explanation to certain terms given in italics was added by me. Other than this, the following is the full text of this statement):


Recommendations of TRAI on ‘Spectrum Management and Licensing Framework’ of May 11, 2010 along with its further recommendations of February 08, 2011, clarifications of May 03, 2011 and response dated November 03, 2011 were considered by the Telecom Commission. After consideration of the recommendations of the Telecom Commission, the Department of Telecommunications has taken following decisions:

1.                No more UAS licences linked with spectrum will be awarded (UAS=Unified Access Services--- An Unified Access Services licensee can provide wireline as well as wireless services in a service area.  Wireless services include Full Mobile, Limited Mobile and Fixed Wireless services.  The licensee can also provide various Value Added Services)

2.                All future licences will be Unified Licences and allocation of spectrum will be delinked from the licence. Spectrum, if required, will have to be obtained separately. A final view on implementation of the Unified License Regime would be taken after receipt of detailed Guidelines and Terms & Conditions from TRAI for Unified Licence including migration path for all existing licence(s) to Unified Licence.(Unified License means the licensee can provide any or all the telecom services including voice; data; internet telephony; Internet services including IPTV;  broadband services including triple play i.e voice, video and data; NLD( National Long Distance) ; ILD(International Long Distance) ; GMPCS(Global Mobile Customer Service by Satellite);  V SAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) services; PMRTS; Radio Paging; and voice mail/Audio Tex/ Unified Messaging   Service  through wire or wireless.) 

3.                In the event of any auction of spectrum pending finalisation of the Unified Licensing Regime, UAS licence without spectrum may be issued which could be subject to a requirement to migrate to Unified licence as and when the regime is put in place. Detailed guidelines for such UAS licence without spectrum would be finalised after receipt of recommendations of TRAI in this regard

4.                 There will be uniform licence fee across all telecom licenses and service areas which will progressively be made equal to 8% of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) in two yearly steps starting from 2012-13.(At present the license fee is 6%, 8% and 10% on AGR depending on the circle)

5.                The licence fee and spectrum usage charges payable by each such licensee shall be on actual AGR, subject to a minimum presumptive AGR. This minimum figure would be reviewed by TRAI every year.

6.                A decision on the recommendation to bring IP-I Service Providers under licencing regime, who are currently unlicenced passive infrastructure providers, has been deferred for further examination.(IP-I Service Providers means Cell Tower Companies)

7.                 A rapid comprehensive techno-economic study will be carried out by DoT to examine issues relating to increase in coverage & tele-density in rural areas while at the same time ensuring sustained quality of service and also to examine the adequacy of USOF mechanism alone to achieve these objectives and the need for augmenting USOF schemes with appropriate direct incentivisation of TSPs for rural rollout.(USOF means Universal Social Obligation Fund, raised by collecting a certain percentage on the revenue of the telecom operators. The telecom operators providing services in rural areas by incurring losses are to be compensated from this fund)

8.                 The validity of existing UAS (& CMTS and Basic services) licences may be extended for another 10 years at one time, as per the provisions of the extant licensing regime with suitable Terms & Conditions so as not to imply automatic continuance of existing license and related conditions including quantum and price of any spectrum allocated.(The licenses were originally given for ten years, but later the period was increased to 20 years. For example, the Airtel was given license for Andhra Pradesh on 12-12-1995. It would expire on 11-12-2015. Therefore as per this rule, the license of Airtel can be extended for another 10 years with effect from 12-12-2015)

9.                On extension, the UAS licensee will be required to pay a fee which will be Rs. 2 crore for Metro and ‘A’ Circles, Rs. 1 crore for ‘B’ circles and Rs. 0.5 crore for ‘C’ circles.  This fee does not cover the value of spectrum, which shall be paid for separately. While extending the licence, the licensee shall be assigned spectrum only up to the prescribed limit or the amount of spectrum assigned to it before the extension, whichever is less. Spectrum assigned by the Government to the licensee in excess of the Prescribed Limit shall be withdrawn.(The existing system is that the license is given for each service area(circle) separately. There are total 22 service areas in India and hence to provide the services throughout the country, the operator has to take 22 licenses)

10.             The need for refarming of spectrum is accepted in-principle. Further steps will be taken after receipt of TRAI’s recommendations in this regard.(Spectrum refarming means diverting the spectrum of certain bands for utilisation from one particular kind of service to another particular kind of service—for example the spectrum of certain bands  being used for 2G services can be diverted to 3G services for better utilisation. In such case, the holder of the spectrum using it for 2G services has to be compensated since he has to migrate to a new band of spectrum that requires change in the technology of the equipment used by the holder. Who has to bear the cost for this compensation? Lot of differences are there on this issue.)

11.            The prescribed limit on spectrum assigned to a service provider will be 2X8MHz/ 2X5MHz for GSM/ CDMA technologies respectively for all service areas other than in Delhi and Mumbai where it will be 2X10MHz/ 2X6.25MHz. However, the licensee can acquire additional spectrum beyond prescribed limits, in the open market, should there be an auction of spectrum subject to the limits prescribed for merger of licences.(The existing limit for allotment of spectrum is initial allotment of 4.4 MHz for GSM operators which could be increased up to 6.2 MHz on availability and justification of the need. For CDMA operators, initial allotment was 2.5MHz which could be increased to 5MHz depending on availability and justification. Now it is decided that for Delhi and Mumbai  the limit is 10 MHz/6.25 MHz for GSM/CDMA and for all other service areas it is 8MHz/5MHz for GSM/CDMA. )

12.             Decisions on all matters relating to One Time Spectrum Charge including pricing of spectrum in cases of M&A and Spectrum Sharing will be taken separately.

13.             Spectrum usage charges were revised in 2010 by the Government and the matter is sub-judice. Further action will be taken by DoT after the matter is decided by the court.

14.              The broad guidelines  in respect of intra-service area merger of CMTS/UAS licences will, inter-alia, include:

a)        For determination of market power, market share of both subscriber base and Adjusted Gross Revenue of licensee in the relevant market shall be considered. The entire access market will be the relevant market for determining the market share, and  will no longer be classified separately as ‘Wire line’ and ‘Wireless’.

b)       Merger up to 35% market share of the resultant entity will be allowed through a simple, quick procedure. However, there may be a need to consider cases of merger beyond 35% market share in certain circumstances without breaching the 25% cap on GSM spectrum/ 10 MHz for CDMA spectrum holding in any service area. Recommendation of TRAI that such cases will be considered up to a market share of 60% has been taken note of.  In order to ensure clarity on the circumstances and extent to which merger above 35% limit would be permissible, detailed transparent criteria will be prescribed/ adopted after receipt of TRAI’s recommendations and after due consultation with the appropriate authorities.

c)      Consequent upon the merger of licences in a service area, the total spectrum held by the Resultant entity shall not exceed 25% of the spectrum assigned, by way of auction or otherwise, in the concerned service area in case of 900 and 1800 MHz bands. In respect of 800 MHz band, the ceiling will be 10 MHz. In respect of spectrum in other bands, relevant conditions pertaining to auction of that spectrum shall apply.

d)      If, as a result of the merger, the total spectrum held by the resultant entity is beyond the limits prescribed, the excess spectrum must be surrendered within one year of the permission being granted. Government may prescribe the band which will be required to be surrendered in accordance with spectrum refarming policy to be announced separately.

e)      The substantial equity and cross holding of the Resultant entity shall be in conformity with the provisions of the UAS licence.

f)        The duration of licence of the resultant entity in the respective service area will be equal to the higher of the two periods on the date of merger. This does not however entitle the resultant entity to retain the entire spectrum till the expiry of licence period.

g)       In case of renewed validity beyond the original validity of any of the merged entity, holding of spectrum in 800/900 MHz band shall be subject to the applicable spectrum  refarming guidelines to be announced in future w.e.f  the deemed date of extension of merging entity having lesser validity of licence at the time of merger or the date of spectrum refarming guidelines whichever is later.

h)       Issues related to spectrum price, to be paid by the resultant entity, would be decided separately. The same shall also apply in case of renewal of wireless operating licence, post merger.

i)        On the merger of the two licenses, the AGR of the two entities will also be merged and the license fee will be therefore levied at the specified rate for that service area on the resultant total AGR. Similarly, for the purpose of payment of the spectrum charge, the spectrum held by the two licensees will be added /merged and the annual spectrum charge will be at the prescribed rate applicable on this total spectrum. However, in case of holding of spectrum for various technologies by the entity subsequent to Merger, spectrum charges & license fee etc. or any other criterion being followed by the licensor shall be applicable as in case of any other UAS/CMTS licensee.

j)          Existing provisions in the UAS licence  relating to Lock-in period for sale of equity/merger shall continue.

 
15.            Broad guidelines for sharing of 2G spectrum (800/900/1800 MHz bands) will, inter-alia, include:
a)        Spectrum sharing will be permitted but in each case, it will be in the same licence service area and will be with the prior permission of the licensor. A simple automatic approval process will be put in place for this purpose.
b)      Permission for Spectrum sharing will be given initially for a period of 5 years. Government may renew the permission for a further one term of five years, on terms to be prescribed.
c)       Spectrum can be shared only between two spectrum holders both of which are holding spectrum either in 900/1800 MHz band or in 800 MHz band.
d)      Total quantum of spectrum, as a result of the spectrum sharing, shall not exceed the limit prescribed in case of mergers of licences.
e)       In respect of spectrum obtained through auction, spectrum sharing will be permitted only if the auction conditions provide for the same.
f)         Parties sharing the spectrum will be deemed to be sharing their entire spectrum for the purpose of charging.
g)       Both the parties shall fulfil individually the roll out obligations as well as the QoS obligations prescribed under the licence.
h)       Spectrum usage charges will be levied on both the operators individually but on the total spectrum held by both the operators together. In other words, if an operator ‘X’ having 4.4MHz of spectrum shares 4.4 MHz of spectrum of another operator ‘Y’, then both ‘X’ and ‘Y’ will be liable to pay spectrum usage charges applicable to 8.8 MHz of spectrum.
i)         Spectrum sharing would involve both the service providers utilising the spectrum. Leasing of spectrum is not permitted.
j)        Decision on matters related to pricing of spectrum, post sharing, would be taken separately.  
k)        Spectrum sharing will not be permitted among licensees having 3G spectrum.
16.            Spectrum trading will not be allowed in India, at this stage. This will be re-examined at a later date.

17.              For efficient management of available spectrum, TRAI may undertake regular spectrum audit. TRAI may carry out review on the present usage of spectrum available. In both the cases, TRAI may make recommendations to the Government.

18.            The judgement of the Supreme Court pronounced on 2nd February, 2012 cancelling 122 licenses has implications for some of the recommendations of the Telecom Commission. Such recommendations are being examined further with reference to legal and other aspects and decisions in this regard will be announced later.”

Implications of these decisions

The above is the statement issued by the Minister conveying the decisions of the DoT. What are its implications?
  1. Reducing Competition and going against the spirit of the Supreme Court Judgment implied in the decision regarding allotment of spectrum--The old operators who got their licenses before 2008 were allowed to retain their spectrum (6.2 MHz for GSM and 5 MHz for CDMA) at the time of extending their license for another 10 years, without paying any seperate charge.  But the new operators who will enter now, after cancellation of the licenses issued in 2008 as per the judgment of the Supreme Court, have to pay for the entire spectrum by participating in the auction and thus it will be a discrimination and against the spirit of the judgment of the Supreme Court. The old operators are allowed to have upto 8 MHz spectrum for no charge over and above the license fee, atleast until the date of future auction of the spectrum,  whereas the new operator has to pay for the entire spectrum as per the rate decided in the bidding. In such case, the old operators can bid more compared to those who want to get the license now. It will result in monopoly since the old operators are likely to be successful in the bidding and it will result in reducing the number of operators, thus reducing competition and increasing the tariff.Such discrimination is against the spirit of the  judgment of the Supreme Court given on 2-2-2012.
  2. Old operators being further favoured
It is understood that although TRAI recommended for collecting additional charge from the telecom operators for the spectrum held by them beyond 6.2 MHz retrospectively, the DoT decided to collect it prospectively ownly, on the basis of bidding. Thus the old operators are relieved of the burden of Rs 17000 crore which would have to be paid by them in case the charge of the spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz is collected retrospectively. This is further encouraging the monopolistic trend, by granting the benefits to these companies.
  1. The allowing of merger and acquisition between telecom operators with the allowing of the market share of the combined entity upto 35% automatically and upto 60% on the basis of TRAI,s recommendation, also is nothing but encouraging monopolies in telecom sector. Such monopoly will result in high increase in tariffs. Even in USA, the acquition of T-Mobile by  AT&T was prevented on the ground that the market share of the new entity would be 44%(AT&T 27% and T-Mobile 17%). At present, the number 1 company in telecom sector in terms of number of subscribers is Airtel and it has a market share of nearly 20% and even at this stage, these private operators have recently increased the tariffs by coming to mutual untold understanding.
  2. Spectrum sharing     The allowing of spectrum sharing also will result in monopoly in the spectrum and the total amount of spectrum shared can be upto 25% of thee total spectrum. Allowing sharing of the spectrum without examining all the other possibilities for a better and economic and eefficient usage of spectrum and the amount of spectrum that would be additionally available after diversion of spectrum from defence to telecom etc., will result in monopoly.
Therefore, inspite of the Supreeme Court judgment as per which the State must act transparently and without discrimination, the Goveernment is encouraging a few companies like Airtel, Reliance, Vodafone, Idea to become monopolies, which is against the interests of the people,