The greedy eyes of the corporates have been on Air India and BSNL for the last many years. Both the UPA and NDA governments have been pushing through this agenda through out, but due to the strong opposition from the unions, they could not implement so far. But by sinister moves, the government has made them both loss making during the last ten years or so, so that on that count the dismemberment can take place, with out criticism from the people.. Both of them were making good profits before the government started ulterior moves to make them loss making.
Air India was making good profit and running efficiently till it was merged with India Airlines. Further, the profitable routes were handed over to private companies. Air India flight was time scheduled to be the third or fourth flight on the same route with the private companies getting the earlier slot. Equal flights to foreign companies was changed in favour the foreign carriers. 111 planes were ordered at the initiative of the Civil Aviation Minister, where as 35 only was necessary and the entire funds misused. With all this anti-Air India decisions, it has been made loss making as required. The private companies benefitted and strengthened. Now Government has decided to strategically sell the Air India.
The case of BSNL is not different. With the promise of strengthening telecom services with all assurances of financial assistance to it, BSNL was formed as a PSU in 2000. It was highly profitable for the first 6-7 years with the annual profit reaching to the extent of Rs.6000 to 12,000 crore with a revenue of Rs. 35,000 -40,000 crore. It was one of the most profitable PSU in the country. It is to be noted that BSNL grew and increased its position despite the fact that private companies have been functioning with all help from the government for the last 10 years.
It is at this junction in 2006 that the then Minister directly intervened and cancelled tender for 4.5 crore mobile lines on flimsy grounds. Again a 9 crore lines tender was cancelled. BSNL was starved of equipments at a time when the Indian telecom market was exploding and all the benefits were given to the private companies. All the cash balance of the company of Rs. 40,000 crore was taken over by the government on or other plea. The ADC fund to BSNL was reduced and stopped. The USO Fund to compensate for the loss making village connections were reduced and denied in some cases. More than 1,80,000 vacancies arisen due to retirement have not been filled up. When the Ministers themselves are part of corruption, there is no stopping some top management corrupt officers who utilised BSNL to their own benefit making the company huge loss. Many such vigilance cases are pending for years together.
BSNL has been able to withstand to the present extend only through the continuous struggle of the employees and their unions and associations. Programmes initiated by the employees like “Service With A Smile”, “Subscriber Delight Year” etc. in the last few years, supported by the management also has stopped increase of losses and have actually reduced the same. For the last two years, there is operational profit. If, demonetisation and the entry of Reliance Jio with its deep pockets has not arrived, BSNL would have got real profit by 2017-18.
The decision of the government to privatise / disinvest these two major PSUs should be opposed and defeated. The Central Trade Unions have been fighting against the privatisation of the PSUs and many united strikes have taken place. A Maha Dharna before Parliament will be organised with lakhs of workers for three days from 9th to 11th November 2017. It may be followed by strike.
The employees of the PSUs, the trade unions and the people together has to defeat the sinister move of the government to sell the valuable property of the Nation.