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June 13, 2001
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Convergence bill to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament

Our Correspondent in Bombay

The draft of the convergence bill is expected to be finally placed before the Parliament in the monsoon session. Minister for Information Technology, Pramod Mahajan, said that the Group on Telecom, headed by Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha will meet on July 11 to discuss the final draft.

"The meeting on July 11 is expected to be the last meeting on the convergence bill," Mahajan said.

The draft would then be placed before the Parliament after which it will be sent to the standing committee for its approval. Mahajan assured that the convergence bill would be passed by February 2002.

The bill aims to provide a clear regulatory framework for telecommunications to enable the convergence of telecom, Internet and broadcasting services that has been occuring world wide over the last few years.

Among other things it proposes a Convergence Commission of India which would look into all three kinds of delivery systems -- communication, information technology and information and broadcasting.

However, the bill has been plagued by delays. The group of ministers on convergence were to meet on December 21 to approve the final draft of the bill. But a decision was not taken.

"By and large we have arrived at a consensus. The draft suggested that certain areas that do not currently need licenses be brought under the licensing regime. But I did not agree to that. In the name of convergence, I did not want to take a step backward," Mahajan said.


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