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S.R. Rao, additional secretary in the Department of Telecom (DoT), has been named to head the probe on matters relating to the divestment of state-run Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) in favour of the Tatas.

The probe, according to officials, will deal with two aspects: The delay in separating the surplus land held by the former state-run company following divestment in 2001 and if the Tatas secured any undue favour in landing the deal.

The probe report on what was the erstwhile international telecommunications arm of the government has been asked by March 31.

The government had earlier invited consultants to advise on the valuation of some 775 acres of surplus land in New Delhi, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai that was earlier with the state-run enterprise, prior to holding an auction to sell it, officials said.

The Tatas have already welcomed the probe.

‘Tata Communications welcomes any government process that will hopefully expedite the demerger of surplus land, which we have repeatedly requested in the best interests of the company and its shareholders,’ said the group.

‘We categorically deny that Tata Communications or the Tata group has benefited or seeks to derive benefit from the surplus land,’ the group said in a statement.

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