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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

BSNL Bihar to hire private recovery agents to cut its losses

Lok Adalat on December 8 yielded just over 1% (Rs 80.48 lakh) of the total dues (Rs 80.10 crore) placed before it for settlement

india Updated: Dec 15, 2018 10:41 IST
Ruchir Kumar
Ruchir Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
The BSNL Bihar telecom circle will hire private recovery agents from next month to cut its whopping losses of Rs 343 crore
The BSNL Bihar telecom circle will hire private recovery agents from next month to cut its whopping losses of Rs 343 crore(HT File)
         

If you are a BSNL subscriber or a PCO owner and have an outstanding dues of Rs 10,000 and above, don’t be surprised if you find a brusque, sinewy, sunburnt man, with a gruff voice, at your door.

The BSNL Bihar telecom circle will hire private recovery agents from next month to cut its whopping losses of Rs 343 crore, of which total outstanding dues account for around Rs 210 crore.

BSNL Bihar circle came up with the idea to hire burly recovery agents after it exhausted most of its administrative and legal options, including holding National Lok Adalats almost twice a year since 2012. One such Lok Adalat on December 8 yielded just over 1% (Rs 80.48 lakh) of the total dues (Rs 80.10 crore) placed before it for settlement.

“The outstanding dues have piled up over the years because many customers do not pay their bills on time, change their premises and after defaulting, move to other new operators without paying their dues,” said Rajiv Kumar, general manager (finance) and internal financial advisor of BSNL, Bihar.

“We had sought special permission this year to hire private recovery agents, to which our corporate office agreed. Ours is the only telecom circle in India which has been granted permission by our corporate office to hire private recovery agents this year. Last year, Madhya Pradesh had done so,” he said.

Given the fact that banks and credit card companies were among the first to use recovery agents, the BSNL has decided to engage those empanelled with nationalised banks.

“We are in the process of finalising expression of interest (EOI) for hiring private recovery agents on commission basis,” said Kumar.

Notorious for using strong-arm tactics to recover dues, the private recovery agents, who are generally musclemen, have been prescribed a set of dos and don’ts by the BSNL.

“Going by the book, we will ask our recovery agents to be polite and not harm our defaulters either physically or verbal abuse,” Kumar said.

“The recovery agency shall be held personally responsible for any damage caused to customers while pursuing recovery of dues. BSNL shall not be a party to such disputes. The recovery agency and/or its staff shall be polite towards the customer so as to avoid allegations of bad behaviour,” he said.

Among the 327 telecom districts of the BSNL, the Patna telecom district, which caters to Patna and Nalanda districts, is notorious for having the country’s highest outstanding dues of Rs 48.29 crore.

BSNL’s overall losses have risen from Rs 1,823 crore in financial year 2009-10 to Rs 7,992 crore in 2017-18.

First Published: Dec 15, 2018 10:41 IST