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JK: Centre withdraws ban on pre-paid mobile phones

Last updated on: January 21, 2010 13:47 IST

Nearly two-and-a half months after imposing a ban on pre-paid mobile phones in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre on Thursday lifted its order with immediate effect but put stringent conditions on operators for verification of customers.

The decision to lift the ban was taken after the Centre finalised a "foolproof" plan to ensure proper verification of nearly 38 lakh cell phone subscribers in the state, official sources said.

The home ministry had imposed the ban on pre-paid mobile phone services on November one last year and Home Minister P Chidambaram had recently said that if the service providers come up with a foolproof plan of 100 per cent verification and the ministry was satisfied with it, then the issue may be revisited. Jammu and Kashmir government as well as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had been pursuing with the Centre on the issue asking it to work out a solution at the earliest.

The state government had favoured a policy for the telecom operators for resuming pre-paid mobile services in the state which should include stringent action besides financial penalties for firms not complying with verification process. The state had maintained that it did not have any issue over the pre-paid ban and wanted the telecom operators to behave in a disciplined manner.

The state government felt mere imposition of financial penalty was not helping security agencies and a law needed to be formulated under which stringent action could be taken against erring officials, besides imposing a financial burden on the telecom operators, the sources said.

The department of telecom had imposed a penalty of Rs 7.38 crore on the six service providers operating in the state from 2008 to November 2009.

Abdullah had asked the Centre to work out a plan as quickly as possible as ban on pre-paid mobile has affected 38 lakh customers, who comprise 60 per cent of total clientele in the state. Telecom operators have been suggested not to issue pre-paid connection to any customer until the applicant provided reference of a post-paid number or BSNL landline.

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