According to recent reports, the government has renewed its plans to merge Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Bharat Broadband Network (BBNL) to establish a single telecom entity.
The BSNL Employees Union has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to drop plans of merging the telecom behemoth with MTNL, saying the merger would do “irreparable damage” to the ailing telecom giant.
“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,” P. Abhimanyu, General Secretary of BSNLEU, wrote in the letter dated March 23.
According to recent reports, the Centre has renewed its plans to merge Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Bharat Broadband Network (BBNL) to establish a single telecom entity. BBNL is responsible for implementing the BharatNet project.
The government had shelved its plans to merge BSNL and MTNL in the past due to financial reasons, which included high debt of the latter.
However, service integration between the two telecom companies had been undertaken, Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said in March last year.
In a bid to create a financially viable telecom firm, the Department of Telecommunications recently floated a draft Cabinet note to merge the three state-run entities, Financial Express reported on March 23.
Meanwhile, the Centre has firmed up plans to infuse Rs 44,720 crore into loss-making BSNL in the next financial year, Budget documents revealed.
In the end of January, the combined debt of BSNL and MTNL was Rs 59,588 crore. Adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues, which includes licence fee and spectrum usage charges, of the two telecom firms is Rs 43,148 crore at present.
At a recent event, BSNL Chairman and Managing Director P.K. Purwar said the government would merge BBNL with BSNL this month and give the telecom firm an opportunity for a turnaround.
"The government has taken a policy decision that BBNL is going to be merged into BSNL. This means all work of BBNL at the pan-India level is going to come to BSNL," PTI quoted Purwar as saying on March 13.
Referring to the recent merger reports, BSNLEU said the merger of MTNL and BSNL would ruin the financial condition of the latter.
“Due to this reason, right from the beginning, the employees of BSNL have been firmly opposing the merger of BSNL and MTNL,” the union wrote in the letter to the PM.