MF Farooqui new telecom secretary for next 15-months?

Telecom Lead India: Senior IAS officer M F Farooqui is likely to be the next telecom secretary.

Farooqui, who is currently secretary in the department of heavy industries, is tipped to replace Rentala Chandrashekhar, who retires at the end of this month.

The Cabinet Committee on Appointments (ACC) is believed to have cleared Farooqui’s name and an announcement is likely to be made shortly, according to agency reports.

Interestingly, Farooqui joined the department of heavy industries in December 2012 from the Ministry of Environment & Forests, where he worked as Special Secretary.

A Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer of 1978 batch, Farooqui will have a 15-month tenure at the helm of the department of telecom before he attains superannuation age of 60 years in June 2014. Farooqui is joining DoT at a time when investor sentiment has been hit by regulatory uncertainty.

Telecom industry feels that the planned appointment of a telecom secretary for 15 months is a wrong decision. “DoT secretaries should be able to work with the department for at least 3 years to learn and guide the the industry to the next level,” said a senior regulatory head with a telecom operator.

Recently, telecom minister Kapil Sibal said that the current telecom secretary would not get any term extension.

According to earlier media reports, department of information technology secretary J Satyanarayana and consumer affairs secretary Pankaj Agarwal, former head of the National Internet Exchange of India, have emerged as the front-runners for the DoT secretary post.

During R Chandrasekhar’s time, both 2G auctions — November 2012 and March 2013 — flopped. Also, he could not address problems faced by the telecom industry after the Supreme Court order on February 2, 2012.

But Chandrasekhar took strong action against telecom giants such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Tata Communications, Reliance Communications, etc. For example, controversies such as 3G roaming pact, accounting irregularities, etc. will be solved soon.

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