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DoT Forcibly Taking Over BSNL Buildings, Land, Say Employees

The Department of Telecom (DoT) is “forcibly” taking over the land and building assets of BSNL under a Presidential directive, employees union of the state-owned telco has alleged.

Seeking the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office, P Abhimanyu, general secretary of the BSNL employees union, said: “The DoT under a Presidential directive is taking away all the lands and buildings for housing its own offices. It was a cabinet decision that the service providing arm of DoT (BSNL) would receive all the assets and liabilities at the time of corporatisation. We got the liabilities and assets transferred but now DoT keeps on issuing Presidential directive and in every city either office space or building of BSNL is being taken over by DoT for its own use.”

The PMO has referred the matter to the telecom ministry. BSNL and DoT did not reply to queries in this regard, but official sources said there has been failure on the part of successive BSNL management over the years.

The land and buildings were transferred to BSNL long ago, but BSNL has not been able to register them in its own name. So, technically DoT (the Department of Telecom) is the owner even today, they added.

Abhimanyu said the registration in the name of BSNL is being done at the moment but the management is finding it difficult to proceed in the absence of original deed papers.

Had these been registered in BSNL’s name, the DoT would not have touched them. Even now it is being done at a snail’s pace.

In the interim period, the DoT is taking away our lands and buildings. But we have given instructions to our field people to physically stall even if our corporate office gives the permission to taking away of BSNL buildings by DoT, Abhimanyu said.

This is the second instance where the employees’ union has opposed a major decision of BSNL. The first one being the carving out f 75,000 towers of BSNL into a separate subsidiary following a cabinet decision. The union alleges this was done to privatise the tower business.

In his letter to the PMO, Abhimanyu said the total book value of the assets comprising the business is in excess of Rs 63,000 crore. It was agreed between BSNL and the DoT that the sum of Rs 63,000 crore will be treated as the provisional value of the businesses being transferred to and taken over by BSNL. The buildings and office spaces vacated by BSNL are being used by DoT units like TERM cells and CCA units.

The letter further claimed the CCA of Himachal Pradesh went to the extent of denying payment of GPF advance to employees after the BSNL circle administration did not comply with DoT directive of office space handover.

CCA is Controller of Communications Accounts, which is the pension and GPF accounting body of the telecom ministry. TERM cells examine compliance from operators on meeting licensing conditions.

These are BSNL properties being forcibly taken over by DoT, the communication stated. Citing an office memorandum of September 30, 2000 of DoT, the letter stated the Government of India had decided that the assets and the liabilities in respect of the businesses carried out shall stand transferred to the company.

The book value of the assets has been provisionally assessed at Rs 63,000 crore and BSNL as the successor company shall be responsible for all assets and liabilities, it said. – Deccan Chronicle

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