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Turning around? BSNL seeks Rs 4,000-cr subsidy

Cash-strapped State-owned telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) would turn into a profit making enterprise in the next six months. Subhash Pathak reports.

india Updated: Jun 26, 2011 22:23 IST
Subhash Pathak

Cash-strapped State-owned telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) would turn into a profit making enterprise in the next six months.

Union human resource minister Kabil Sibal, who also holds the charge of telecom ministry, said this while talking to the Hindustan Times at Ranchi recently.

"I am aware about the kind of liquidity crunch the BSNL is facing particularly after procuring additional spectrum for newer services. Various strategies are being worked out for rejuvenation of the ailing telecom company," said Sibal.

Citing a couple of measures to arrange additional resources, the minister said the BSNL would be offered the liberty to lease out its space on mobile towers to other operators for financial gains. "I came to know that space on a large number of mobile towers is not being utilized properly," said the minister.

"Besides, the BSNL is set to play a major role in a countrywide project to link all villages with optical fibre cables (OFC). Laying the OFC throughout the country is a huge task, which is to be achieved within a couple of years," he said.

Integration of all villages across the country with OFC is a part of the major project mooted by the Centre to develop the national knowledge network, which intends to serve as an alternative to the huge shortage of academic institutions in the country.

"We are into a phase where we should strive for tapping the potential of information technology (IT) revolution," said Sibal.

Unlike the previous arrangement to keep watch on operational nitty-gritty of the public sector undertaking, the minister has also started monitoring of the financial health of each circle of the BSNL.

"I am reviewing the performance of BSNL circles closely. Non-performing officials have been cautioned to mend their ways, or be ready to face the music," he said.

However, a section of the BSNL officials is skeptic whether the initiatives taken by the union minister would help the telecom company overcome the financial strains within the stipulated timeframe.

"The company has suffered Rs 1800 cr loss during the fiscal 2009-10. The loss is expected to go up to Rs 5000 crore during the last fiscal ending March 2011. In this situation, a turn around seems impossible," said a senior officer of the Indian Telecom Service posted with Jharkhand BSNL.