Communist Party claims tariff changes not benefiting the poor

20 Apr 2006

The CPI-M (Communist Party of India – Marxist) has criticised the government’s ‘OneIndia’ plan for favouring the rich and says it intends to raise the issue in parliament. Introduced earlier this year, OneIndia offers a single tariff level for all domestic calls in the country regardless of the distance. However, CPI-M Politburo member Sitaram Yechury told the Business Standard that the only people benefiting from the changes are the financially well-off. He says the country’s poor mainly use public call facilities and landlines, and only to make local calls, none of which have been affected by the plan. The CPI-M has also been critical of the government’s lowering of the Access Deficit Charge (ADC) from 1 March. It says that the introduction of OneIndia coupled with a lower ADC will lead the country’s operators to invest less in rural and poor communities as their revenues decline.

Meanwhile, state-run incumbent operator BSNL has filed a petition against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) challenging the reduction of the ADC. BSNL’s appeal has been accepted by the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which this week gave the TRAI two weeks to file a reply, before the dispute is heard on 17 May.