BSNL was nominated for a rural connectivity initiative in villages along the China border in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, but the project could not take off
The crisis at state-run telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) is deepening and is now spreading to its partner firms. Equipment vendors to the state-run company have delayed salaries to their employees due to a hold-up in a government project to connect rural areas in the northeast, The Economic Times reported.
Vihaan Networks (VNL) and Himachal Futuristic Communications (HFCL) had bagged contracts to supply gear to BSNL for the government's ambitious programme of ensuring telecom connectivity to villages in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. For the same, they had employed 3,000 persons directly and nearly 5,000 persons indirectly.
"For the last several months, our salaries have been delayed by almost two-to-three weeks, with the company sitting idle on one of our important telecom connectivity programme it had won more than a year ago from BSNL," sources from within the company told the newspaper. Mahendra Nahata, founder of HFCL, dismissed the news report as false.
Moneycontrol couldn’t independently verify the report.
The rural connectivity project that BSNL was nominated for was led by the Universal Service Obligation Fund for villages along the China border in two states.
The deadline of the Northeast-I connectivity was December last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved this project to deploy 2,817 towers in 4,119 villages in Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam. It was a part of the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP).
These partner firms had taken out loans from the banks, furnished bank guarantees and even moved some of the equipment to the site, but no work was started on the project, hence there have been no payments, the report said. The project's future hangs in the balance, as does the network connectivity in these villages.
BSNL had itself delayed salaries to its employees in February due to increasing financial strain on the company. It has moved the government to help out in the distress, but no action has been taken by the Centre yet.This initiative aimed to boost BSNL's revenue as the total project cost was close to Rs 2,200 crore. It got tangled in legal formalities and could never take off.