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December 14, 1999
The government has set up a small group, headed by Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha to bring a convergence of the telecom and IT sectors to resolve all problems in the telecom sector and to quickly implement the new telecom policy.
According to an official spokesperson, the group will recommend solutions to resolve various problems in both sectors to help build a world class information and communication infrastructure and to provide quality services.
The terms and reference of the group includes preparation of suitable draft amendments to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, to strengthen it and render it more independent. The group will recommend the creation of a credible level playing field between public and private telecom players.
It will also suggest steps to speedily resolve issues between the TRAI and the Department of Telecom. The group will draft a new telecom-IT convergence legislative framework to replace the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. It will consider whether there should be one law or separate inter-related laws -- and one or separate inter-related regulatory bodies for telecommunications, broadcasting, cable television, the Internet, satellite communications and other forms of communication.
The group is to prepare a roadmap, with specific signposts, to corporatise DoT services before the end of 2000.
The group is to review the implementation of the ISP policy, and recommend measures for the fastest possible proliferation of high-speed, high-bandwidth, Internet services in India, including the matter of the liberalisation of gateways.
The group will recommend measures for the rapid spread of e-commerce.
The group shall submit its interim report to the government with its recommendations on TRAI- related issues and subsisting problems of the telecom sector before January 15, 2000 and the final report would be submitted before march 31, next year, the spokesman said.
The other members in the group are Communication Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley, Law, Justice and Company Affairs Minister Ram Jethmalani, Planning Commission member Montek Singh Ahluwalia, eminent jurist F Nariman and Chairman of the Vigilance Commission Dr N Vittal. Special secretary in the prime minister's office N K Singh will be the member secretary of this group.
All secretaries of the concerned ministries will be permanent invitees to this group.
The spokesperson said Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced the setting up of such a committee on November 20 this year at a function organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
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