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Curtains down for 160-year-old telegram service

Once the main source of quick and urgent communication, the service delivered many happy and sad news to people

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Smartphones, emails and SMS seem to have pushed the humble telegram service to the grave, with the Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) deciding to discontinue the 160-year-old telegraph service from July 15.

Once the main source of quick and urgent communication, the service delivered  happy and sad news to people all over the country. However, with the advent of technology and newer means of communication, the telegram found itself edged out.

A circular issued by Shameem Akhtar, senior general manager (telegraph services) (BSNL), New Delhi, says the telegraph service is to be discontinued from July 15.

The circular sent to various telecom district and circle offices says all telegraph offices under the management of BSNL will have to stop booking telegrams from July 15.

The circular has also directed the telecom offices to maintain log books, service messages and delivery slips only for six months from the date of bookings. However, complaints, press reports and other messages from consumer forum are to be kept for one year.

Sources at BSNL said, “We had asked the government to support the service as it was not commercially viable and the government said the BSNL board should decide on it. So, we decided to close the service after consultation with the Department of Posts. They also said there are better options available,” the sources said.

BSNL has instructed that surplus telegraph staff members would be deployed to mobile services, landline telephony, broadband services and shifting could take place within the next three months. Faced with declining revenues, the government had in May 2011, revised the telegram charges after a gap of 60 years.

The telegram charges for inland services was hiked to Rs. 27/50 from Rs. 3/50, 4/50 earlier.     Two months ago, telegram services for overseas communication was withdrawn by BSNL.

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