Eight issues, including setting up of mobile towers in Naxal-hit areas and full mobile number portability, are on the agenda for the inter-ministerial panel's meeting on Thursday.

"Some decisions may need the Election Commission's approval. The Telecom Commission is meeting tomorrow and it will take a final call," Telecom Secretary MF Faroqqui said on the sidelines of National Conference and Annual General Meeting of industry body CII.
     
"For full MNP (mobile number portability) we have written to the regulator on some implementation issues...all aspects will be discussed tomorrow," he said. The full mobile number portability, if approved, will allow users relocating to any part of the country to retain their numbers. Jammu & Kashmir may be excluded from this facility on security concerns raised by the Defence Ministry.
    
Guidelines for full mobile number portability, recommended by TRAI in September, 2013, need to be finalized by the Department of Telecom after approval by the Commission. The Telecom Commission may also take up a revised penalty scheme, which will save operators from being fined a maximum of Rs 50 crore by the DoT for even minor violations.
    
The proposal classifies penalties at various levels, starting with warnings that can lead to a penalty of Rs 1 lakh, minor violations which may attract Rs 1 crore penalty, moderate (Rs 5 crore), major (Rs 20 crore) and severe (Rs 50 crore).
     
According to sources, setting up mobile towers to improve communication in Naxal-hit areas will be the top priority because security forces need to strengthen their operations in those regions.
    
The Cabinet had approved the proposal at a cost of about Rs 3,046 crore in nine states which are affected by Naxal violence. The decision came soon after 27 people, including senior Congress leaders, were killed in a Maoist attack at Bastar in Chhattisgarh last year.
    
On March 11, Naxals ambushed a security team killing 15 people in Chhattisgarh, in a chilling reminder of the 2010 massacre in which 76 security personnel were killed in the same area in the worst-hit Sukma district.   

The affected areas are spread across Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
    
The project was supposed to be completed by June but was stuck due to differing cost estimates. The requirement submitted by BSNL exceeds the project budget approved by the Cabinet by about Rs 789 crore, according to sources.

(Agencies)

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