The BSNL Employees Union on Thursday opposed the Narendra Modi government’s proposal to implement a voluntary retirement scheme, alleging that it is a strategy to reduce the PSU’s workforce before handing it over to a private player.

The union in a statement alleged step-motherly attitude of the Modi government towards BSNL as the company has not been allocated 4G spectrum required for its business growth.

It said that Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha had given an assurance in January 2018 that BSNL would be allotted spectrum for 4G services, but it is pending till date.

According to sources, the Department of Telecom had floated a cabinet note for allocation of spectrum for 4G services to BSNL, but the finance ministry raised questions on the business viability of such a proposal.

The Prime Minister’s Office is now learnt to have asked the DoT to submit a detailed roadmap for the revival of BSNL and MTNL, including allocation of 4G spectrum and reduction in headcount of BSNL through voluntary retirement mechanism.

“It must be noted that VRS is already implemented twice in the MTNL. However, it has not helped in the financial revival of MTNL. That company is neck-deep in financial crisis today. Hence, we want to point out that VRS is not going to help in the financial revival of BSNL,” the union said.

The employees union said that the government should immediately allocate 4G spectrum for financial revival and should help BSNL financially by extending a soft loan for the expansion and modernisation of its networks.

“Recently, the whole country witnessed how the government moved swiftly to bail out Jet Airways. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley directed the banks, led by State Bank of India, to pump in Rs 1,500 crore for bailing out Jet Airways. Why such a largesse is not being shown to BSNL, which is the government’s own company?” the union said.

The BSNL employees union alleged that the government has not given single penny as financial aid to BSNL during the last 18 years of its existence.

“BSNL is the company with the least debt in the entire telecom industry. All the private companies, including Reliance Jio, are having debts of more than Rs 1 lakh crore each. Still, the DoT is creating roadblocks for BSNL to avail credit from banks. This is also a clear-cut step by the government to retard the growth of BSNL,” the union alleged.

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