BSNL finally identifies 28 land plots for sale; most in Chennai

Modi government has identified 28 land parcels of BSNL which they would like to sell to remonetise the telecom company. Most of these plots are in Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Maharashtra

BSNL’s office in New Delhi, Photo Courtesy: PTI
BSNL’s office in New Delhi, Photo Courtesy: PTI

Ashlin Mathew

The Modi government has identified 28 land parcels of BSNL which they would like to sell to remonetise the telecom company. Most of these plots are in Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Maharashtra.

As soon as the Modi government began their second term, the telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had stated that revival of BSNL and MTNL were on the cards provided the PSUs behaved professionally. By professional, Prasad meant that they would want to reduce the number of staffers in BSNL to 35,000.

The PSU currently has around 1.65 lakh employees, many of whom came from the department of telecommunications (DoT) in 2000 when the company was formed. The GoM headed by home minister Amit Shah suggested that the retirement age of the employees be reduced to 58 years from the current 60, which would cut down the number of BSNL by 30,000.

According to the list prepared, the total fair value of the land parcels was ₹16,998 crore in 2015 and the estimated present fair value of land parcels is ₹19,831 crore. The total area of all these land parcels is estimated to be 2,27, 275 sqm (56 acre). The value of the buildings lying in these plots have been estimated at ₹200 crore.

"It has been proposed to take up fair valuation of the structures lying in the parcel after the in-principle approval for sale or long-term lease by the government,” the letter added.

From Tamil Nadu, seven land parcels from Chennai are on the list, from Maharashtra, there are three land parcels on the list, two land parcels each from Jharkhand, Karnataka, Gujarat and Telangana. From Kerala, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, one land parcel each has been identified to be either sold of leased. From Kerala, the officials have identified a training centre in Thiruvananthapuram to be sold.

BSNL telecom factories at Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, a wireless station in West Bengal and staff quarters have been included in the list of land parcels to be monetised. Of these land parcels, all are free hold in nature, except for the land in Uttar Pradesh (West) as it is on lease.

It was decided to sell the land through Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM). However, several employees are of the opinion that the land should only be leased and not sold as that will then create a permanent revenue.

State of affairs at BSNL

BSNL’s loss is estimated to be around Rs 14,000 crore with a decline in revenue to Rs 19,308 crore during 2018-19. The PSU's provisional loss was ₹4,859 crore in 2015-16, ₹4,793 crore in 2016-17, ₹7,993 crore in 2017-18 and is estimated to widen to ₹14,202 crore in 2018-19.

The company's revenue is pegged at around ₹19,308 crore for 2018-19, compared with ₹ 25,071 crore in 2017-18 and ₹31,533 crore in 2016-17, Prasad had stated in Parliament.

In 2018-19, salary expenditure accounted for 75% of the firm's total revenue at ₹14,488 crore.

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