Rahul Khullar is new TRAI chairman

Rahul KhullarThe government has appointed commerce secretary Rahul Khullar as the new chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for a three-year term, ending speculation that the regulatory body would be headless for at least some time.

Khullar, a 1975 batch IAS officer of Delhi cadre, succeeds J S Sarma, who retired on Monday. Khullar's appointment has been cleared by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sources said, even though the government had not made any official communication.

Khullar confirmed the development and said he would be taking charge from Monday.

The tenure of Khullar, who was due to retire in April next year, will be till May 2015. However, it would not be a bed of roses for Khullar, as the industry is divided over spectrum pricing, while other issues including the 2G scam are yet to be put to rest. The spectrum auction is to be conducted before August 31, 2012.

As commerce secretary, Khullar was credited for normalisation of trade between India and Pakistan. He had been successful in implementing measures that helped exports cross $300 billion in 2011-12.

Former department of industrial policy & promotion (DIPP) secretary Rajinder Pal Sing, defence production secretary Shekhar Agarwal, fertiliser secretary Ajay Bhattacharya, former department of telecommunications member (technology) Chandra Prakash, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner Subodh Kumar and former secretary (defence finance) Indu Liberhan were also in race.