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BSNL staff plan march today in support of various demands

Further intensifying their agitation, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) employees will take out a protest march in New Delhi on Friday, demanding allocation of 4G spectrum, approval for land monetisation and loans among others for the State-owned telecom company.

However, this protest is not related to reports of the Government considering a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS). “The Government’s plans for VRS is yet to reach us, and as when we are intimated we will take a call,” a source said.

According to sources close to the development, 5,000-10,000 employees are to start from Bharat Sanchar Bhavan, Janpath, to Sanchar Bhawan, where the Ministry of Communications and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) offices are housed.

Seeking the same demands, BSNL’s employees across the country had gone on a three-day strike earlier from February 18.

Read More: DoT to move cabinet note on VRS to BSNL employees

Demands sought

The two State-owned telecom operators — BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) — don’t have 4G spectrum, though the former is providing 4G services using the new Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) across certain circles. The service is provided using 3G spectrum, but BSNL needs 4G spectrum to provide both 3G and 4G services, simultaneously in an area covered by a single BTS.

BSNL, a miniratna company, had sought 4G spectrum in 2017, but is yet to be awarded. The government wants guarantees that the allocation of 4G spectrum will help BSNL’s revival. It also needs an immediate ₹5,000 crore-loan for capex and opex — 2G, 3G and 4G rollouts, providing Fibre-To-The-Home services and expansion of optical fibre.

The company is also awaiting a ‘preferential sanction’ (a government letter to the banks) for the loans.

BSNL is seeking about ₹2,350 crore as interest on Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum and nearly ₹2,200 crore as excess payment taken by the DoT towards pension contribution from 2007 onwards, according to Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association (SNEA) website.

Source: The Hindu