Members in the Lok Sabha today came down heavily on BSNL for "poor" services across the country as the government defended the telecom operator saying it has been suffering since the days of UPA government.
Discussing the BSNL services in various parts of the country, BJP member Sanjay Dhotre wondered whether some of the BSNL employees were working for private operators as they were "not interested" improving its own services, thus helping private companies to expand their networks.
This invited applause from the opposition benches during the Question Hour, leading Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to say that the health of BSNL had deteriorated since the days of Congress-led UPA regime.
Prasad said the government-run telecom operator had once made profits of Rs 10,000 crore but was now incurring losses to the tune of Rs 8,000 crore.
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He also refuted members' suggestions that some BSNL employees were helping the private telecom operators by providing "poor" services to its own subscribers.
Another BJP member Gajendra Singh Shekhawat too received support from opposition members when he said that the wi-fi and broadband services provided inside the Parliament House complex was also not up to the mark.
To this, Prasad promptly promised to do the needful to improve the services in the Parliament House. He said the tele-density rate in urban areas was now 168 per cent while in rural areas it was 47 per cent.
The national tele-density stood at 78.73 per cent as in February. Out of around five lakh villages in the country, only around 55,000 villages do not have telecom network. "Lack of telecom network in these villages is due to their locations.
Some are located in Maoist-affected areas, some in hilly terrain or some of them are in remote areas in the Northeast," he said. Prasad said the Licensed Service Areas of Bihar, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, North Eastern states and Rajasthan have tele-density below the national level.
The variation in tele-density was primarily due to socio-economic advancement and availability of adequate telecom infrastructure in the area, he said.