CAS step away from being dumped in Delhi

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: So it came to pass that the last day of the year was witness to another twist in the already twisted CAS tale.

"CAS has been indefinitely postponed in New Delhi," Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit and BJP Member of 

Parliament Vikay K Malhotra told the media after coming out of a meeting with the I&B minister ravi Shankar Prasad. The ministry, however chose to take a more cautious approach.

The government now says it is "pained" at seeing that no actual ground work has been done on CAS in Delhi. It therefore proposes to collect some more data to 

review the situation. A stand that can safely be described as just a step away from the junking of CAS.

Addressing the media, Prasad, who has been the one piloting CAS since he took the reins at the ministry in January, couldn't have been more dramatic on the last day of the year when he advised cable consumers in Delhi to "learn to say no" when asked by the cable operator whether they want a set top box or not.

Prasad's comments were in reponse to a specific query as to what the consumer should do from New Year's Day if cable operators were to force set top boxes on them. As clear an indication (if any were needed) as any that CAS is about to be dumped.

A clearly frustrated cable fraternity, meanwhile, has warned that monthly cable subscription rates could be raised to Rs 450 to Rs 500 as a fallout of this happening.

Both Dixit and Malhotra have been critical of the rollout of CAS in South Delhi areas, stating that in its present form, it is not consumer friendly.

A few days ago, Malhotra also wrote a letter to Prasad saying that CAS should be deferred in Delhi for a year.

With general elections looming large over the country, much ahead of the late 2004 polls (as per the original schedule), consigning of CAS to the dustbin of history may end up becoming a populist measure for power and vote hungry politicians.

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