Thomas K. Thomas
New Delhi, March 25 In a move that could raise alarm bells in Sanchar Bhawan, the Sixth Pay Commission report has recommended scrapping the Indian telecom services cadre and the Telecom Commission.
While the Telecom Commission is the highest policy making authority in the Department of Telecom, ITS officers manage the State-owned companies, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. ITS officers are also sent on deputation to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and other telecom PSUs such as the Indian Telecom Industries.
The Commission has pointed out that since telecom services, arm of the Government, has been made into a corporation, ITS may be discontinued. “Earlier, the Department of Telecommunication was the sole telecom service provider in the country. Subsequently, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has been hived off from this department as a separate public sector undertaking.
“Consequently, the department has ceased to be a service provider and is presently functioning as a conventional department and its role is limited to policy planning, licensing and coordination matters relating to telegraphs, telephones, wireless, data, facsimile and telematic services and other like forms of communications. No need, therefore, exists for retaining a separate Telecom Commission in this Department.”
With regard to ITS services, the Commission report said, “It is further observed that earlier Indian Telecom Service (Group A), an organised technical service under the Central Government, was performing the role of providing telecom services. These functions have since been corporatised.
Continued necessity of retaining Indian Telecom Service (Group A) does not, therefore, exist. The Government should discontinue this service. All the existing officers of this service should either be absorbed in BSNL/MTNL or else sent to the surplus pool.”
ITS officers are opposed to the proposal on the grounds that with the growth in telecom services and new technological advancements, technical expertise provided by a telecom officer was valuable.