Kochi: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has disconnected over 1,000 official telephone lines of Kerala government offices, including those of its key officials, after the government failed to pay up the bills for the last many months.
The total outstanding amount the state government owes BSNL comes to around Rs 2 crore for a period ranging from three months to over a year. In the Ernakulam and Idukki districts, BSNL has disconnected about 200 official connections due to nonpayment of bills, says BSNL principal general manager A K Saxena.
Recently Kochi city police commissioner's telephone line was also cut for the same reason. ''But we reactivated the commissioner's number after he intervened,'' says Saxena. The residential line of Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) vice-chancellor Dr N Unnikrishnan Nair has also been severed, say sources.
Many lines in the collectorate at Kakkanad and those of some police stations, and even government hospitals, have also been severed in the last few weeks, officials say. ''We cannot be blamed for that. The department works in a different manner. If there are pending payments for over some months, the system operates automatically to disconnect those lines,'' says BSNL general manager (finance) Mathew George.
What surprises BSNL officials is the adamant stand of the state government on the issue. ''The government just tells us that it is not in a position to pay up given the current financial situation,'' says Saxena. ''The government is also not giving them any future dates for the payment of bills.''
The officials say if the situation continues, the company will be forced to sever many more official telephone connections in the next few weeks. In many government offices, BSNL has retained the incoming call facility after severing the outgoing call mode. ''We have asked district collectors to install IN-PCO facility that allows anyone to make calls by using a pre-paid card,'' Saxena says.