On December 16, 2020, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi has approved the following proposals which were detailed by Union Minister Prakash Keshav Javadekar, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B), Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises (MoHI&PE), and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
–Cabinet approves Auction of spectrum worth Rs. 3,92,332.70 cr
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications to conduct spectrum auction worth Rs. 3,92,332.70 crore (at reserve price) to offer a total of 2251.25 MHz (Megahertz) to successful bidders for providing commercial mobile services.
- In this regard, spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz frequency bands will be auctioned for a validity period of 20 years.
- A notice to invite bids for the same in December 2020 will be issued by the telecom ministry and spectrum auction will be held by March 2021.
Compliance for Bidders:
Bidders will have to adhere to conditions like block size, spectrum cap i.e. the maximum amount of spectrum that can be held by each bidder after the completion of the auction, roll-out obligations, payment terms etc.
Payment Process for Bidders:
Successful bidders may pay the entire bid in lump sum or may pay partial amount and the remaining amount in a maximum up to 16 equated annual instalments, after a moratorium of two years.
- Bidders are also required to pay 3% of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) excluding wireline services as the spectrum usage charges.
What is Spectrum allocation?
Spectrum allocation or Frequency allocation is the allocation and regulation of the electromagnetic spectrum into radio frequency bands done by governments.
- Spectrum is invisible radio frequencies that wireless signals travel over which enables us to make calls from our mobile devices do everything on our mobile devices.
- Sufficient spectrum availability increases the quality of telecom services for the consumers.
Points to be noted:
In May 2020, The Digital Communications Commission, the apex decision making body of the Department of Telecom, in May had approved the spectrum auction plan worth Rs 5.22 lakh crore which included radiowaves for 5G services as well. However it decided not to auction frequencies in 3,300-3,600 Mhz bands that were identified for 5G services.
About Ministry of Communication:
Union Minister– Ravi Shankar Prasad
Minister of State (MoS)– Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre
–Cabinet approves Revised Cost Estimate of NER Power System Improvement Project for six States
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by PM Narendra Modi approved the revised cost estimate of the North Eastern Region Power System Improvement Project (NERPSIP) for six states at an estimated cost of Rs 6,700 crore. The 6 states are Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura
- The scheme is being implemented through POWERGRID, a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Ministry of Power in association with beneficiary NE states. It is targeted to be commissioned by December 2021.
- After commissioning, the project will be owned and maintained by the respective NE states Utilities.
Objective of scheme: Centre’s commitment towards economic development of the NER by strengthening the Intra-State Transmission and Distribution Infrastructure for efficient operation of the electricity sector.
- It will help in creating a reliable power grid and improve connectivity to the upcoming load centers in NER and also create employment opportunities.
Point to be noted:
NERPSIP is a scheme of the Ministry of Power which is funded by the World Bank (WB) and Government of India (GoI) on a 50:50 basis.
About Ministry of Power:
Minister of State (MoS)-Independent Charge (I/C)– Raj Kumar Singh
Secretary– Sanjiv Nandan Sahai
–Cabinet approves assistance of about Rs. 3,500 crore for sugarcane farmers (Ganna Kisan)
CCEA also approved an assistance of Rs 3,500 crore for sugarcane farmers or Ganna Kisan that will be directly credited into farmers’ accounts on behalf of sugar mills against cane price dues and subsequent balance.
- This assistance will benefit nearly 5 crore farmers and about five lakh workers employed in the sugar mills.
Reason behind the Assistance:
Farmers sell their sugarcane to the sugar mills but not getting their dues from the latter due to surplus sugar stock. The stock is estimated at 310 lakh tonnes against an annual demand of 260 lakh tones. Therefore GoI is facilitating the evacuation of surplus sugar stock to enable payment of dues of the sugarcane farmers.
- The evacuation will be done by exporting 60 LMT (Lakh Methe tric Tonnes) of sugar limited to Maximum Admissible Export Quota (MAEQ) during the ongoing marketing year 2020-21 (October-September).
Cabinet approval with foreign countries on December 16, 2020
–Cabinet approves MoU between India and USA for exchange of information in the Electricity Sector
The Union Cabinet has given its nod for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), India and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), United States of America (USA).
- The MoU envisages exchange of information and experiences in areas of mutual interest to both in the electricity sectors.
Key Features of MoU:
–Identify energy-related issues and develop topics and possible agendas for the exchange of information and regulatory practices in areas of mutual interest;
–Organize visits at each other’s facilities for seminars, and exchanges;
–Develop programs of mutual interests
–Exchange of personnel (management or technical)
About Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC):
Chairperson– Pradeep Kumar Pujari
Headquarter– New Delhi
About United States (US):
Capital– Washington, D.C.
Currency– United States Dollar
President-elect– Joseph Robinette Biden Jr
CCS Approves National Security Directive on Telecom Sector
In order to enhance national security, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by PM Narendra Modi has accorded approval for the National Security Directive on Telecommunication sector. The policy will come into effect after 180 days from the date of approval.
- This information was provided by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
- As a part of this approval, the government will declare a list of trusted sources, trusted products for telecom service providers.
–The procedure to designate trusted products will be devised by the designated authority, namely National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC).
–Further, the designated authority will make its determination based on approval of a committee, to be called, National Security Committee on Telecom, headed by the Deputy NSA (National Security Advisor).
Reasons behind this Approval:
India is among the top three countries in the world facing cyber-attacks and a sum of Rs 1.24 lakh crores was lost due to cyber-crime in 2019. Recent ransomware attacks, as well as data and identity thefts, are a serious cause for concern from a national security angle. Therefore, telecom service providers are required to connect new devices which are designated trusted products.
Recent Related News:
i.Union cabinet has approved the signing of MoU between Ministry of Communications, India and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) of the UK Government for co-operation in telecommunications.
ii.As a part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 package, the Union Cabinet has approved the infusion of Rs 6,000 crore equity in National Investment and Infrastructure Fund’s (NIIF’s) Debt Financing platform in the next two years i.e., 2020-21 and 2021-22. This financial aid will help the entity to raise Rs 1.10 lakh crore by 2025 for financing infrastructure development projects in the country.