New TRAI Chairman takes over charge today

Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar will today take charge as the chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

His appointment has been approved by the government.

Khullar will replace J.S. Sarma for a three-year term, sources privy to the development told IANS.

The appointment comes at a critical time when TRAI’s recommendations on the spectrum auction is being criticised by telecom firms and analysts alike.

The regulator has recommended, among other proposals, a reserve price of Rs.3,622 crore for 1 MHz pan-India spectrum, which is around 10 times higher than the price at which 2G licences were allocated in 2008 under then Telecom Minister A. Raja.

The recommendation came in the wake of the Feb 2 Supreme Court order cancelling 122 telecom licences issued in 2008.

The operators have also warned of a 100 percent hike in tariffs if the proposals are accepted.

Khullar is a 1975 batch IAS officer and had worked closely with then finance minister Manmohan Singh during 1991-1993 as his private secretary.