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Sept 30 is deadline set for telecom officers to get absorbed in PSUs

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Thomas K. Thomas

New Delhi, Sept. 27

THE Department of Telecom has approached engineers from Army Corps and retired officers from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd to take over the operations of BSNL and MTNL in case the Indian Telecom Services (ITS) officers refuse to be permanently absorbed in the two PSUs by September 30.

DoT has asked the 2,000 ITS officers currently on deputation to the two PSUs to decide on the issue by the set deadline. Those officers who do not consent to be absorbed will be put in the surplus cell under the Ministry of Personnel and Training.

"We have asked the Army and retired BSNL officers to be on a standby even as we try to convince the ITS officers to be absorbed in the state-owned companies," said a senior DoT official.

The ITS officers have opposed DoT's move to permanently move the officers to organisations such as BSNL, MTNL, TCIL and TRAI on the grounds that the compensation was not adequate.

Until now, ITS officers have been working in the public sector companies on a five-year deputation and have been enjoying perks available to government employees. The five-year period has ended now.

The DoT move to replace the officers may adversely impact the growth of the state-owned company.

Though BSNL's and MTNL's nationwide network will continue to be maintained by a workforce of over four lakh employees, the 2,000 ITS officers form the think tank of the two public sector units.

Army engineers and retired BSNL officers may not be adequate to take on competition from private players as currently most of the senior officers are ITS officers.

The BSNL board has told the Government that the company may lose out significantly without the Group A officers.

The ITS Officers' Association (ITSA) said that DoT wants to force ITS officers to get absorbed in BSNL and MTNL on terms and conditions that are non-transparent and which puts the careers of the officers at stake in addition to causing huge loss in emoluments. "Our officers are being intimidated so that they submit to the dictates of bureaucrats in DoT. They have now embarked upon a plan to shift all the ITS officers to surplus cell and bring in non-experienced (officers) from other ministries including from the armed forces," the ITSA said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 28, 2005)
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