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Q&A: R K Upadhyay, Chairman & CMD, BSNL

'A massive drive for all round improvement has been launched'

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R K Upadhyay
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R K Upadhyay, who took over as the chairman and managing director of the ailing state-run telecom company in April, is hopeful of turning around the company in the next two years. In an interview with Mansi Taneja, he talks about his strategy to overcome the losses, increase revenue and venture into other areas to regain lost ground.

You took over BSNL at a time when the company was on a decline path. What initiatives have you taken since then?
A massive drive for all round improvement in the performance has been launched. The revenues of all circles are being monitored closely. We have kept dynamic targets and have asked our circle heads to maximise revenues to their fullest capacity. Atleast 15 per cent increase in revenues through various means has been fixed in all circles for this fiscal. The losses, incurred in the past two years, have to be minimised. New steps need to be taken to see that BSNL turns around in two years.

Apart from circle-wise targets, what other avenues you are looking at for increasing the earnings?
We are looking for every possible way to generate revenues. We are betting big on our enterprise business and expect to clock over Rs 3,000 crore from this segment in the current fiscal. We will also give a single-window clearance to all our enterprise customers on a pan-India basis. We have started leasing out our telecom towers to service providers and will rent out space in our existing buildings for telecom and IT-related services.

How much revenue are you expecting from leasing out of towers and space?
No target has been fixed, but we will be exploring full potential.

BSNL has not been able to add new lines since the past 2-3 years. What is your plan for capacity addition in the current fiscal?
We have invited bids for about 14.37 million lines to expand in the north, east and south zones, which is estimated at around Rs 5,000-6,000 crore. This is for the first time that the company has floated a tender through an e-tendering process. For capital-intensive schemes, such as procurement, we have proposed that financing will be done through a vendor financing system, wherein upfront cash will not be required.

The department of telecommunications (DoT) had directed both BSNL and to reduce staff in a targeted manner. What are your plans?
BSNL’s biggest problem is that 49 per cent of the revenues go towards staff salary. That is why we are exploring all possible revenue streams, including land resources. The Board for reconstruction of public sector enterprise had recommended that we should give VRS to our employees. We have not taken any decision on it yet.

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