Isn't it the job of the govt to provide school education, good roads, sanitation and water supply rather than distribute mobile phones ? With 58% of Indians sh***ing in the open this govt has lost it by gimmicks like this. Where is Jayaram Ramesh who said toilets rather than temples are the need of the day. Telecom Commission okays Rs 5,000-cr government subsidy to provide 2.5 cr phones NEW DELHI: The Telecom Commission has ratified the Rs 5,000-crore government proposal to give away 2.5 crore mobile handsets at subsidised prices but has raised objections to the other proposed scheme to hand out 90 lakh tablets to class XI and XII students of the state and central government schools. According to minutes of a meeting of the commission, the contents of which were reviewed by ET, the panel has decided to alter the criteria for allotting the mobile phones. Telecom commission is the highest decision-making body in the telecom ministry. "A detailed mechanism for identification of beneficiaries needs to be specified," the commission has noted. The initial proposal had sought to target the beneficiaries through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme ( MNAREGA). After reviewing these suggestions, the proposal will now be placed before the Cabinet. The Telecom Commission, however, deemed as difficult to implement the proposal to allot 90 lakh tablets to students as it would have much wider ramifications than the close-ended scheme envisaged in the initial proposal. It has instead suggested that in the first phase, the scheme should be implemented only for the central schools or an even narrower target of girls' schools funded by central governments. The panel also raised objections over nominating state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd as the sole implementing agency for both the schemes. As reported earlier by ET, the government was set to spend Rs 10,000 crore as part of its continuous efforts to woo voters ahead of upcoming state and national elections. According to the initial plan, the government would charge Rs 300 for a mobile phone, which would be bundled with a monthly recharge of Rs 30 for a period of two years. The recharge was to entitle the user to 30 minutes of airtime, 30 SMSes and 30 MB usage a month. The schemes were to be funded by the cash-rich USOF, which currently has a corpus of close toRs 28,000 crore and receives aroundRs 6,500 crore in contribution from telecom operators each year.