The government has informed the parliament that six telecom companies, including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi), recorded a total debt of Rs 4.17 trillion in the fiscal year 2021-22.

According to data presented by Devusinh Chauhan, Minister of State for Communications, in the Lok Sabha, Vi had a debt of Rs 1.91 trillion, Airtel Rs 1.03 trillion, Jio Rs 424.86 billion, BSNL Rs 404 billion, Tata Teleservices Rs 201.62 billion and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Limited Rs 197.03billion during the reported period. 

The minister noted that the government has approved various structural and procedural reforms in the telecom sector to promote healthy competition, protect interests of consumers, infuse liquidity, encourage investment and reduce the regulatory burden on telecom operators. 

Separately, the government informed the parliament that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has disconnected over 1.5 million mobile number that were issued using fraudulent credentials. In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Devusinh Chauhan said that the government has taken various steps to strengthen the mechanism to deal with cyber crimes in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. He said that a toll-free helpline number ‘1930’ has been operationalised to get assistance in lodging online cyber complaints.

Further, the minister added that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued directions to telcos on February 16, 2023, to prevent the misuse of headers and message templates for cybercrime/fraud. He said that the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center has been established to provide a framework and eco-system for law enforcement agencies to deal with cyber crimes in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.