Info-tech

BSNL can surely be revived, says union in letter to PM Modi

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on October 02, 2019 Published on September 30, 2019

BSNL will pay only a part of its vendors’ charges and operational expenses to ensure there is no disruption in services   -  SOMASHEKAR GRN

The Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association (SNEA), an employees’ union of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi yet again, stating that the ailing telecom PSU can be revived in 3-4 years if the government desires so.

This is the third letter the trade union has written to the PM in as many months.

“It’s learned that the high-level meeting convened at the Prime Minister’s Office on September 26 was inconclusive as the concerned secretaries could not come to a conclusion on the question of whether BSNL can be revived or not,” SNEA said in a letter dated September 30. The senior officers and secretaries may doubt the possibilities of a revival, but BSNL employees are confident that it can be revived, it added.

However, the Union Cabinet should approve the allotment of 4G spectrum, the formation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to which the debt and land parcel of BSNL should be moved, financial support for 17,000 loss-making rural telephone exchanges and the implementation of a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), among others, it further said.

The formation of an SPV and financial assistance for rural telephone exchanges are the two most important proposals for the revival, the letter signed by SNEA General Secretary K Sebastin said.

Strong fundamentals

Stating that the fundamentals of BSNL are strong, SNEA said the company has 7.6-lakh route km of optical fibre, which is far more than RJio’s 3.25-lakh route km, Airtel’s 2.5-lakh route km and Vodafone Idea’s 1.6-lakh route km. Further, the company has land assets worth more than ₹3-lakh crore, 66,000 towers and a decrease in employee costs year-after-year due to retirement.

The company also has the least loan amount, of about ₹20,000 crore, compared with the ₹4.25-lakh crore of private operators. Vodafone Idea has a liability of ₹1.18-lakh crore, Airtel ₹1.08-lakh crore and RJio ₹1.12-lakh crore.

BSNL’s revenues for FY15 stood at ₹28,645 crore, which rose to ₹32,918 crore in FY16, and then fell to ₹31,532 crore in FY17. The revenues further fell to ₹25,070 in FY18 and ₹19,308 in FY19, it said, blaming “unfair competition”, predatory pricing and lack of 4G for BSNL as the reasons for the decline.

Published on September 30, 2019
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