‘For some ministers, BSNL was a ‘cash cow’: Ashwini Vaishnaw’s swipe at UPA
Ashwini Vaishnaw said the BSNL went through a very bad phase primarily due to certain political parties, especially in the UPA government, when a lot of funds from BSNL were diverted
NEW DELHI: Communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Wednesday said the government has a revival package in place to transform Bharat Sachar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which he said, went through a “bad phase” during the term of the Congress-led UPA government, and that it was used as a “cash cow” by some people who are still members of Parliament.
“The BSNL went through a very bad phase primarily due to certain political parties especially in the UPA government, when a lot of funds from BSNL were diverted,” he said.
Vaishnaw’s swipe at the Congress-led UPA coalition came during response to supplementary questions in the Lok Sabha.
“The days have gone when certain ministers from the other side of the aisle, for them BSNL was just a cash cow. Those days have gone, and BSNL will revive in a big way,” Vaishnaw said, leading to loud protests from the Opposition benches. The minister did not name any particular party or minister.
In contrast, the minister outlined the NDA government’s elaborate plans to upgrade the telecom infrastructure and revive BSNL. PM Modi, he said, has cleared a ₹1.64 lakh crore plan that will transform the state-run telecom firm.
The BSNL will soon launch 4G and 5G networks designed, developed and made in the country as per Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, he said, adding that the revival measures focus on infusing fresh capital to upgrading BSNL services, allocating spectrum, de-stressing its balance sheet and augmenting its fibre network by merging the Bharat Broadband Nigam Limited (BBNL) with BSNL.
To a question by Congress MP Jasbir Singh Gill that accused private players of cheating people over use of mobile data, Vaishnaw said people had to pay ₹200 for every GB of data during the Congress regime which has now come down to ₹20.
Replying to another question by Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut on rollout of optical fibre network in villages, the minister said: “There are some states which opted to instal optical fibre network instead of installing it through the means of BBNL. Maharashtra is one such state where the state government opted for this task.”
“Unfortunately, for the two and half years… the work wasn’t completed. However, now the work of installing fibre networks is picking pace.”
In a written response, the minister said 1,80,709 gram panchayats have been made Service Ready on Optical Fiber Cable out of 2,59,469 planned gram panchayats as on December 7, 2022.