Government considers merging BSNL, MTNL

New Delhi: The central government is considering a proposal to bring public sector majors Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) under one umbrella.

MTNL offers basic, cellular and Internet services in Delhi and Mumbai, whereas BSNL is the incumbent basic, national long-distance, cellular and Internet service provider in the rest of the country.

Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan says this proposal is, however, in the thinking stage. Although both the organisations are public sector units, there is a lot of difference in the pay-scales, promotions and also the employee strength in both these organisations. The biggest challenge would, therefore, be to see how these differences can be sorted out without causing any problems for the employees.

Mahajan says the government has not given up on the proposal to divest stake in both MTNL and BSNL. I am not against their disinvestment because I believe that the government need not be involved in the telecom business. But then, both these organisations have a solid history behind them and it is not going to be easy to sell them off one fine morning. Especially BSNL, which today has a 40-million line capacity with 99.9 per cent of its exchanges digital and nearly 2,50,373 route km of OFC network.

He adds: Along with its vast customer base, BSNLs financial and asset bases, too, are vast and strong. The telephone infrastructure alone is worth about Rs 1,00,000 crore with a turnover of Rs 22,000 crore and fixed assets valuing more than Rs 90,000 crore.