MP seeks funds to purchase tools, rent employees, Telecom Information, ET Telecom

NEW DELHI: There is a need to raise funds to buy telecom equipment from multinational providers, add tower and fiber footprint, and hire a minimum number of staff to look after state company subscribers, a Mumbai-based lawmaker said.

In a letter dated June 4, 2021 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seen by ETTelecom, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant asked for administrative authorization and substantial financial support for the two state-owned telecommunications companies, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) – to buy mobile devices from the world market, and said it was necessary to hire the minimum necessary staff to maintain existing and new connections.

To hasten the recovery of the two financially troubled telecom providers, Sawant said after a cabinet-approved rescue package of Rs 70,000 crore that there was an urgent need to increase the base transceiver station (BTS) and fiber network and was aiming for one Merger of the two companies.

MTNL operates in the metropolitan areas of Delhi and Mumbai, while BSNL operates under four zones in the rest of India and began servicing the former’s cellular network at the beginning of January this year.

“The government has also decided to sell the BSNL and MTNL’s open and surplus land to reimburse the voluntary pension scheme (VRS) budget proposal. The obligation to sell the land was given to the Ministry of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM). However, in the past two years, DIPAM has failed to sell the land and raise significant funds, “the legislature said.

The BSNL, headed by PK Purwar, has yet to open tenders, it has invited for the delivery of fourth generation or 4G devices that have been dragged on after a series of controversies between domestic companies and their multinational competitors.

In March of this year, the Sanchar Nigam Executives Association (SNEA) informed PMO in a letter that the BSNL revival had been delayed mainly due to the non-launch of 4G services and the slow land monetization process.

The leadership group has also looked for the top office intervention to upgrade up to 49,300 BSNL-provided telecom locations through global providers to commercialize 4G services in the shortest, most cost-effective way possible.

In October 2019, the cabinet, led by PM Modi, approved a resuscitation package that included the allocation of 4G frequencies, asset monetization and a voluntary pension scheme (VRS). Almost 50% of the workforce at the two telecommunications companies opted for voluntary retirement, which cut labor costs by almost half.
Sawant went on to say that both BSNL and MTNL have immense potential and could rebound if the country’s top office intervenes in a timely manner.

“Almost 106 MTNL employees died in Mumbai and Delhi (due to Covid-19). But management has shown no kindness or humanity by providing at least financial support to the grieving families of the deceased employees,” he said.

The MP added that huge residential complexes being built in Delhi and Mumbai are demanding state MTNL services but cannot operate telecommunications due to lack of funds.

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