Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan has directed state-owned BBNL and BSNL to initiate disciplinary action against officials who failed to fix non-functional broadband equipment under the ambitious BharatNet project, sources said.
This is the second time in little over a month that Sundararajan has flagged the issue as Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) and BSNL are yet to take steps that could have led to disciplinary action or filing of "chargesheet" against the officers who are accountable for maintenance of broadband lines under the BharatNet.
The secretary has sent a strongly-worded communication, dated December 14, to the heads of BBNL and BSNL after she came to know that broadband equipment in over 50,000 village panchayats are non-functional, the sources said.
Citing the communication, the sources said the secretary has called for "chargesheet/ disciplinary action be initiated against the supervisory officers in BBNL responsible".
It is regrettable that both CMD BSNL and CMD BBNL have not complied with the directions issued on November 14 as there is yet to be any improvement with respect to the non-functional equipment, the sources said quoting the communication.
As per the communication, dated December 14, Sundararajan has also pointed out that the matters of non-functional BharatNet lines have been mentioned in Parliament and critical observations have also been made by the Prime Minister's Office in several meetings.
BSNL is a vendor of BBNL with respect to rolling out BharatNet project.
Queries sent to BBNL and BSNL remained unanswered.
The sources said BSNL has submitted its response to the secretary wherein it has stated that operation and maintenance mechanism put in place by BBNL has no mechanism to alert ground staff about faults.
No clear responsibility has been assigned to the field staff for operations and maintenance of BharatNet, the sources added.
According to them, the BSNL has said that a mobile application is required to be developed by the BBNL to help ensure maintenance of BharatNet lines.
In its submission, the BSNL has directed its UP West Circle head to investigate the issue of not addressing faults in certain BharatNet lines for long and take action against erring officials, the sources said.
Besides, BSNL has submiited that faults have reduced to 10,000 till December 17 from 24,000 as on December 14. If proper monitoring mechanism through messages and app is put in place to alert field officers, then the faults can be reduced further, the sources said citing the telecom operator's submission.
It could not be immediately ascertained whether the BBNL has submitted its response.