Bharti Airtel chairperson Sunil Mittal on Thursday said the payment dues related to adjusted gross revenues were an “unprecedented crisis” for the telecom industry, PTI reported. He made the remark after meeting Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and sought cuts in taxes and levies for the sector.

Mittal said his company was committed to complying with the Supreme Court order on payments of the dues, and would make the payment expeditiously. “AGR is an unprecedented crisis for industry, which is being dealt with by government,” he said.

He said Airtel had time till March 17 to make balance payments, adding that the company would pay its dues “much before that”.

Last week, the Supreme Court had issued notices to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Tata Teleservices and others, ordering them to pay adjusted gross revenue of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the Department of Telecommunications before the next hearing on March 17. The top court had asked the managing directors and directors of the companies why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for failing to pay even a “single penny” to the government despite an October 2019 court judgement.

On Monday, Airtel paid Rs 10,000 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charges. Vodafone Idea, the one hit the most by the judgment, on Thursday paid Rs 1,000 crore more after paying Rs 2,500 crore to the government on Monday. In total, the telecom company owes Rs 53,000 crore. Tata Teleservices Limited owes Rs 14,000 crore to the government as spectrum charges and licence fee, BSNL Rs 4,989 crore and MTNL Rs 3,122 crore.

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