ome Minister P Chidambaram may head the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on the allocation of telecom spectrum, which was reconstituted today after Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar declined to head it.
Official sources said Chidambaram's name tops the list of ministers who will be part of the EGoM from whose chairmanship Pawar recused earlier this week citing attempts to drag him into controversies.
Pawar's name does not figure as a member of the reconstituted ministerial panel. Defence Minister A K Antony, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, I&B Minister Ambika Soni, Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia continue to be members of the EGoM.
Sources said no date for the meeting of the EGoM has been fixed yet.
The EGoM was last week reconstituted after Pranab Mukherjee, who was heading it, resigned as Finance Minister to contest the Presidential elections. Pawar was named as the new Chairman of the ministerial panel and a meeting fixed for July 2.
But Pawar first postponed the meeting of the EGoM, which had last met on June 5, and then approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recusing himself.
The EGoM is to decide on a minimum or base price for auction of telecom spectrum or airwaves. The Supreme Court, which in February cancelled 122 telecom licences issued during the tenure of the then telecom minister A Raja in 2008, and asked the government to complete spectrum auction by August 31.
The EGoM in its last meeting on June 5 had finalised broad modalities for auction of spectrum including the schedule and the quantum of airwaves to be sold, but there was no decision on reserve price, terms of payment and annual spectrum usage charges.
It was decided that 8-11 blocks of spectrum in the 1800 Mhz band, and 3-4 blocks in 800 MHz band, would be put up for sale.
The government will conduct a simultaneous, multiple round ascending e-auction, details of which would be notified separately.
The spectrum auction is vital for companies like Sistema Shyam Teleservices, Uninor and Videocon whose telecom licences have been cancelled by the apex court but they are still looking to continue their services with fresh permits.
The Supreme Court has mandated conducting the auction before August 31, while giving these companies permission to operate till September 7.
After that, they will have to get the spectrum through the auction process to continue operations.