Drawing flak from the telecom department over gaps in maintenance of BharatNet infrastructure, BSNL has promised to take action against erring officers, but asserted that its maintenance responsibility pertains to only the optical fibre portion, sources said.
The telecom PSU has also sounded out Department of Telecom (DoT) about Rs 6.17 billion of dues pending from Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL), as operation and maintenance payment for BharatNet project.
When contacted, BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava refused to comment on the matter.
But sources aware of the matter said the company has written to DoT pointing out that while the onus of preventive and corrective maintenance of the optical fibre portion connecting gram panchayats is with BSNL, the responsibility of remaining network elements lay with other agencies.
Responding to concerns raised by the Telecom Secretary on BharatNet project, BSNL has also suggested that mechanism be worked out at the earliest that allocates faults pertaining to only the optical fibre portion, to the telecom corporation.
BSNL has claimed that BBNL has not taken steps to put in place such a mechanism despite the state-owned telecom service provider repeatedly insisting on the same.
Earlier this month, the telecom department reportedly pulled up BSNL and BBNL over underutilisation of BharatNet infrastructure as well as deficiencies in maintenance of the project that seeks to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through high-speed broadband by March 2019.
Absence of a mechanism to segregate the faults in the network makes it difficult to initiate action against officials, as some of the problems may turn out to be beyond their area of responsibility, BSNL has said.
In the same breath, BSNL has assured DoT that it will take disciplinary action against the officials lacking in discharge of duties.
Sources said BSNL CMD has also instructed Director (enterprise) to look into the outstanding issues in streamlining operations and maintenance of BharatNet.
BSNL has also pointed out that states would need to take equal responsibility of ensuring utilisation of the massive rural broadband infrastructure that is being put in place.
Nearly 50 per cent of the work on the BharatNet project has been completed, and when fully operational, it will facilitate delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking and other services to citizens across the country.