An unpaid BSNL employee believes the company will survive the current turmoil
- BSNL has a net debt of ₹13,000 crore, and estimated losses to the tune of ₹14,000 crore.
- Tthe government is reportedly working on a revival plan, which also involves giving ‘attractive’ voluntary retirement packages to its staff.
BSNL employeesunion wants the company to maximise profits by closing down loss-making exchanges.
A 46-year-old BSNL engineer, Ramesh P (name changed) has not received his salary on time for the last few months but he is not worried.
“Yes, we as a company are in losses but BSNL has precious land parcels and those are our assets. Our company will not shut down so easily,” he told Business Insider India on the condition of anonymity.
The excessive competition from Reliance Jio has left even majors like Airtel and Vodafone Idea wounded and the debt-laden, loss-making BSNL has been one of the victims.
The uncertain future of BSNL would have cast a shadow on Ramesh’s family, which used to live from one payday to another. But Ramesh, like many of his colleagues, have taken heart in informal chatter within the grapevine that the company’s land bank may be worth thousands of crores. Not just that, it opens up other opportunities too.
Banking on land assets
The company’s sprawling 40-acre campus at Gachibowli in Hyderabad is a testament to how BSNL has been making money outside its mainstay telecom business. The campus with lush green vegetation amidst an office and quarters, regularly rents it to shoot movies. A top private school is also in talks with the campus, for a long-term lease, as per sources.
In July, the company has started identifying its expansive land parcels that it owns across the country. They believe that at least s 63 of them are in prime locations which might fetch high price, as per reports. The idea is to monetize land, along with tower and fiber assets to cut down the debt.
The company is saddled with a debt of ₹13,000 crore, and estimated losses to the tune of ₹14,000 crore. However, the government is reportedly working on a revival plan, which also involves giving ‘attractive’ voluntary retirement packages to its staff, to make the company leaner and more efficient.
BSNL employees are unhappy with the revival plan
Not all employees are as happy with revival plan proposed by the government, according to a Hindu report. The dissenting staff want the company to maximise profits by closing down loss-making exchanges. There are as many as 18,000 such exchanges which are weighing down the balance sheet, a letter sent by Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association claimed.
Moreover, just shutting down exchanges may not be a viable solution for the government that has embarked on a ‘Digital India’ plan, which intends to provide Internet and other voices services to every nook and corner of the country. Closing down exchanges would mean cutting off services in areas which private players would never tread.
BSNL has licences to provide telecom services in every circle expect Mumbai and Delhi, where yet another government company, MTNL, operates. Both these players have lost ground and are unable to withstand the onslaught of private telecom majors.
A tough competitive market along with bureaucratic hurdles which did not allow BSNL to upgrade technology and equipment had led to loss of customers and brand value.
Now that the question is of the company’s survival, the employees want the government to lend an ear to their suggestions. “Live today to fight another day’