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Telcos May Consider Waiving Off 1-Month Charge To Aid Migrant Labourers: COAI

Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam are likely to work with the government and work out an action plan after the Congress party urged carriers to waive a month’s call charges for their home-bound migrant labourer customers who may have run out of cash for mobile recharges amid the Covid-19 induced countrywide lockdowns.

Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea, said the telcos “were likely to consider the request” as they have always put the interest of their customers first.

“No business can hope to succeed without this focus on the interest of their customers first…I am sure, they will consider the request carefully and work with the government to take appropriate action,” Mathews told ET.

At press time, Jio, Airtel, Vodafone Idea and BSNL did not reply to ET’s queries on whether they would implement Ms Gandhi’s proposal on humanitarian grounds.

Earlier in the day, All India Congress Committee General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in identical letters, dated March 29, to Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal, Vodafone Idea Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and BSNL Chairman P K Purwar, has called on these telecom companies to “make incoming and outgoing call facilities” on their networks “available in the relevant areas without charge for the next one month” for home-bound migrant workers who’ve run out of money on their phone recharges.

The AICC general secretary, in her letters to the four telco bosses, said “it is our national duty to help our countrymen in this hour of crisis. Millions of migrant workers, she said, are going home, battling hunger, thirst and disease, and have run out of money on their phone recharges and are unable to call their families, who, in turn, are unable to receive calls due to financial and mobility restraints. Copies of her letters to the telcos were circulating on Twitter.

―Business Journal

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