The union of employees of state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has called on management to shut down the operations of BSNL Tower Corporation Ltd (BTCL), a subsidiary created to house the operator’s telecommunications towers. The union opposes the operation of BTCL saying that the decision is to privatize the subsidiary by selling it to a strategic partner.

According to the union, management has started to undertake other activities such as construction and smart city works, which are unrelated to the tower activities for which the company was established. BSNL has around 70,000 towers, but the towers have yet to be transferred to BTCL.

“The government made its intentions to raise ₹ 40,000 crore by monetizing the fiber optic towers and assets of BSNL and MTNL during the current fiscal year itself. For the monetization of the BSNL towers, the option left to the government is the induction of a strategic partner into BTCL. This is nothing more than a clear program to privatize BSNL’s flagship assets, ”the BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU), the company’s largest union, said in a letter.

“Subsequently, BSNL will be converted to scrap,” reads the letter to BSNL President and CEO PK Purwar.

Stating that the government’s initial public offering (IPO) plans for Life Insurance Corporation Of India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd prove “without a doubt” that they will not hesitate to privatize BTCL, the union urged management to stop To “operationalize” the tower.

In September 2017, the union cabinet decided to separate from the BTCL, as a result of which numerous demonstrations were organized by the unions and associations of BSNL. They were of the opinion that this decision was “fraught with risks of privatization”, after which the activities of the company were suspended.

BSNL management was also of the view that BTCL was created to carry out non-telecommunications activities and to reduce the liability for license fees.

“… this argument from BSNL management was reasonable. However, following the recent government announcement to monetize BSNL towers and fibers, the arguments turned out to be misleading, ”he said.

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