A 29-acre plot of land in Kerala figures among the 63 land parcels identified by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for monetisation to tide over its mounting losses.
In an official communication marked as ‘BSNL Revival case – Most urgent’ sent from the corporate office to the Chief General Managers of all circles, the identified land parcels, their areas and other details are listed out.
From Kerala, the plot under consideration is the BSNL Regional Telecom Training Centre (RTTC) located near Kaimanam in Thiruvananthapuram. Out of the land stretching over a total area of 29 acres, 9.88 acres is marked as sparable.
According to BSNL sources, the centre which once served as a major centre of training, now provides courses in optical fibre and other technologies to students and for in-house purposes.
This list of land parcels includes its factories at Mumbai, Kolkata, West Bengal, Ghaziabad, Jabalpur and wireless stations, as well as other offices and staff colonies, which are valued as per its internal estimate at ₹20,000 crore in 2018-19.
The lands so identified are proposed to be transferred to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), for the purpose of disinvestment. Some of these parcels are mutated, while some are not, and the status of some of these parcels are freehold and some are on leasehold. The RTTC land is mutated.
The letter does not spell out whether the lands are up for sale or whether the plan is to lease it out. Employee unions said that they would support any move to lease out to generate revenue, but would oppose plans to sell the lands belonging to the public sector company.
The BSNL, has in recent years been struggling to compete with the likes of Reliance Jio, as the Central government has not yet allotted 4G spectrum. With the mounting losses, the contract employees as well as contractors who have completed optical fibre cable laying and other works have been left without any payment for months, despite the Kerala circle being in a better state compared to the other circles.
For the past one month, contract workers have been on a protest in front of the Chief General Manager’s office in Thiruvananthapuram demanding payment of wages and reinstatement of jobs of those who have been asked to leave as a result of the management changing the retirement age arbitrarily in the past few months.
But, the management has not given much of a response to them, citing its own helplessness as funds have to come from the corporate office.