BSNL Employees Oppose Merger Of BSNL With MTNL: ‘Irreparable’ Loss To BSNL’s Revival?
The state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) employees group Wednesday said that the proposed merger between the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and BSNL would do irreparable damage to the revival plan approved by the cabinet for the latter.
BSNL Employee Union (BSNLEU) wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi which was dated 23rd March, 2022. The letter said that “the BSNL employees are genuinely concerned that the merger of MTNL with BSNL will certainly ruin the financial condition of the latter.”
The group has also ardently appealed to cease the proposal of merging MTNL with BSNL and suggested that the government should take on MTNL’s debt which is approximately Rs 26,000 crore, and should give adequate financial assistance to BSNL for the restoration of the MTNL network.
“Already BSNL is struggling hard to come out of its financial crisis. In this situation, if MTNL is merged with BSNL, it will only do irreparable damage to the financial revival of BSNL,” BSNLEU general secretary P. Abhimanyu said.
The Centre’s plan has been to create a collaboration between the two loss-making entities, and further unify their operations making a single entity. MTNL is a listed firm, and has a wage inconsistency with BSNL employees.
In January 2021, BSNL took over MTNL’s mobile networks in two metropolitan cities namely, Delhi and Mumbai.
Cabinet’s revival plan for BSNL
In October 2019, the Cabinet approved the revival plan for the state-owned BSNL and MTNL worth Rs. 70,000-crore. The plan included virtual retirement scheme (VRS), monetisation of assets and allocation of fourth generation or 4G airwaves, and a merger between the two companies.
However, as per insiders, a large part of MTNL’s suffering network sites remain down due to non-payment of rent and dues to vendors who provide fuel.
After the VRS, the headcount in both telecom carriers, has been significantly reduced to nearly 50% which has resulted in massive savings on their salary outgo.
The Minister of State for Communications said on Wednesday that there was “no delay or deficiency” in services provided by BSNL because of many employees choosing the VRS option. Chauhan also said that there was no plan for the disinvestment of BSNL. As of right now, BSNL has a debt liability of approximately Rs. 30,000-crore.
Government’s other plans
Aside from this, the Centre is also planning to unify Sarvesh Singh-headed Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), a special purpose vehicle to deploy BharatNet network nationwide with BSNL.
BSNL chairman Pravin Kumar Purwar stated that the government has taken a policy decision to merge BBNL into BSNL, and added that the move would introduce BBNL’s initiatives to BSNL.