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Send your last telegram by 1800 hours today

Special Correspondent
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The 160-year-old service will cease to function from Monday; existing staff will be posted in other departments

Come Monday and all the tools and manpower that helped send out telegraphic messages from the past 160 years will cease to function.

If you belong to an era when telegrams were the quickest carriers of news — both happy and sad — your last chance to send a telegram for old times sake would be at 1800 hours (6 p.m.) on Sunday.

The Morse Key Duborn-Sounder basic instrument was relegated to the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum long ago. “But it is still in working condition,” said S. Sridhara Murthy, a telegraphist who has watched the technological advancement in telegraphy from Morse key board to Web-based Telegraph Message Switches System.

At the Telegraph Headquarters at Telephone House on Raj Bhavan Road, the counters still appear well maintained, perhaps because a large section of the office is designated for the use of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL).

At the stroke of 6 p.m. on Sunday, the 26 employees who are exclusively connected to telegraph system will bid adieu to their old jobs.

“Of course, we will be re-deployed in BSNL services,” said R.G. Kambalimuth, a senior section supervisor who has served the Telegraph Department for more than 35 years.

“Our cadre was declared as a ‘dying cadre’ long ago. We knew that the department will be closed,” said S. Sriram, a section supervisor.

According to C. Narasimhamurthy, president of the Federation of National Telecom Employees, at some point of time, there were over 2,500 employees in the department. Over the years the strength reduced.

“We have to accept the fact that change is inevitable and adjust to changed circumstances,” said Mr. Kambalimuth.

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