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TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal retires
March 21, 2006 16:39 IST
After a distinguished career spanning 40 years in civil services, Pradip Baijal on Wednesday retired as chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India after a three year tenure, which saw a free fall of phone tariffs and steep increase in tele-density.
Baijal, a 1966 IAS officer of the MP cadre, directly dealt with a variety of key issues impacting the telecom industry in India, including changes to the Access Deficit Charge that punctured mobile phone bills.
In fact, it was he who is credited with suggesting a reduction in ADC, a fee that private operators pay Bharat Sanchar Nigam for compensating its rural operations, and its eventual withdrawal by 2009.
This was by no means a small decision given the clout and might of BSNL and the support of Department of Telecom to continue with the levy, which works out to not less than Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion).
He was also responsible for TRAI's recommendations on regulation of the vastly unorganised cable industry in India.
Another step of far-reaching implications was Baijal's continued thrust on Unified Licensing, under which an operator can offer telecom and broadcasting services on a single licence and Next Generation Networks for Indian telecom sector that would bring down the network costs significantly.
The Unified Access Licences are already in place.
Baijal also was instrumental in attempting to give the customers the choice of retaining mobile numbers even while switching operators under what is known as number portability. TRAI has already made its recommendations on it.
His tenure would also go down as a phase of consolidation of Indian telecom sector when the regulator kept a vigilant eye on the customer interests -- be it asking operators to refund the amount rightly due to them or promoting competition and scuttling monopolies.
Prior to his assignment in TRAI, Baijal was secretary in the divestment ministry from 1999-2003, during which he laid down a host of rules and regulations shaping the route for privatisation of the power sector.Before his posting in central service, he held key positions in the Madhya Pradesh government as well, including industry secretary and finance secretary.
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