Telecom regulator TRAI has given six weeks additional time to telecom companies to file monthly and quarterly reports that are otherwise due in April, a senior official said on Sunday.
The decision comes within days of industry body COAI writing to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for granting additional time to telecom companies to file such reports, citing massive efforts being undertaken by them to overcome "numerous operational challenges" in order to keep vital networks up and running amid the 21-day nationwide lockdown to counter the spread of coronavirus.
"TRAI considered the request of COAI in view of the prevailing circumstances, and agreed to extend the time to submit monthly and quarterly reports due in April by six weeks," TRAI Secretary SK Gupta said.
In a letter addressed to TRAI Chairman RS Sharma, the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) on March 26 had said that it is "extremely difficult for our members to submit various monthly and quarterly reports on the due date as per the requirements of TRAI as most of these reports require circle wise compilation and their compilation in the current environment will not be possible."
"Hence, we request TRAI to kindly extend the timelines for submission of various reports...," COAI Director General, Rajan Mathews had said in the communication to TRAI.
COAI had said that as a provider of an essential service to the nation, the industry is facing "numerous operational challenges", but trying its best to fulfil duties and provide unhindered communication to the nation.
"In the present crisis, there is a significant strain on the human resources of the operators as they are grappling with the operational issues arising from the COVID-19 outbreak on one hand, while also trying to fulfil the licensing compliance on the other hand. Regular day to day operations of the TSPs (telecom service providers) have been impacted with minimal staff manning the requirements," COAI had said.
Citing measures that were recently announced by the Finance Minister for extension of statutory and regulatory compliances in view of the coronavirus pandemic, COAI had said, "Similarly, we request TRAI to kindly provide our member TSPs additional time of at least 6 weeks, from the due date, to file all monthly and quarterly reports which are due for submission in April 2020 i.e. all reports wherein financial disincentive is applied or not."
In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 announced a complete lockdown of the country to try to halt the spread of the pandemic, shortly after which the Centre said road, rail and air services will remain suspended during this period.
The pandemic has so far claimed 25 lives in the country, and the number of COVID-19 cases have touched 979.