BSNL, the biggest public sector undertaking in the telecom industry in India is in a crisis now as
NDA government’s neo-liberal policies are affecting its employees and the company.
Trouble started when Mukesh Ambani launched Reliance Jio as a game changer in telecom Industry with free calls, Free SMS and Free internet data.
Airtel, Vodafone and BSNL were affected but survived. Tata Docomo and Telenor vanished from the telecom market.
In order to counter the Jio’s rage, all other networks reduced their tariff to match Jio’s schemes. Vodafone and Idea merged and became the biggest consumer base in the country with a total of approx 33% market share, Airtel with approx 28% market share and Reliance Jio with approx 27% market share. But BSNL couldn’t manage the onslaught.
BSNL is now facing a massive loss of 31,000 crores, and the employees are blaming the government policies for favouring Jio instead of State-Owned BSNL.
Mr C Chellapa, state president and national deputy general secretary of BSNL employees union in one of his interviews had blasted the NDA government on several fronts.
He says that as per TRAIL rules welcome offer can be given to customers only for a period of 90 days.
Jio launched in September 2016, and welcome offer must have been closed by December 2016 as per TRAI guidelines. But Jio extended the welcome offer by another 90 in the name of New year offer and by March 2017. It had ten crores of new subscribers.
When DOT secretary wrote about this violation to TRAI chairman, but there was no action against Jio, and instead DOT secretary was transferred, and Jio continued to give another 180 days of Free Calls, SMS and Internet Data.
Mr Chellapa says that Jio wrote to PMO office to reduced the inter-usage charges between mobile networks from 14 paise/minute to 6paise/minute. NDA government agreed but to such drastic reduction in price, BSNL lost 5000 crores while Jio took advantage.
Chellapa says 4G spectrum is not allocated to BSNL network till March 2019 and this agitated the employees, and they went on strike three times demanding 4G spectrum from the Government. Telecom ministry has given assurance, but no allocation is done yet.
He says that at present, Jio has 2 lakhs crores debt from the national bank. Airtel has 1,13,000 crores, and Vodafone has 1,20,00 crores from nationalised banks. Even if any one company among the 3 falls, the banks will be bankrupt.
But BSNL has a bank loan of 10,000 crores
In order to build infrastructure and expand the customer base, BSNL has urged bank for a loan of 20,000 crores and banks had asked for a letter of comfort. But this was denied by the Modi government.
He says BSNL has assets worth 400,000 crores of Indian rupees, last year BSNL has requested the Government to permit vacant land of BSNL which is worth 100,000 crores. But the Government denied the permission stating that the land/assets belong to Government of telecom and not by BSNL.
He says that salary is paid on 20th of every month and he makes the staffs and workers very anxious.
In a nutshell, it is said that NDA government is depriving BSNL of its benefits, it’s not sincere to solve the problems and its benefits the private sector by denying and neglecting them. But the BSNL employee union is fighting with the Government to keep the 100 years old company afloat.