SRINAGAR – The growing demand for landlines following mobile phone blockade has opened a windfall for the state owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) which virtually enjoys monopoly over landline telephone service in the Valley.
People queuing up outside BSNL offices allege that the authorities there are demanding fresh security deposits even for restoration of telephone numbers which have been idle for years.
“A subscriber pays a security deposit at the time of getting the phone connection and why should BSNL charge fresh deposit for restoration of the same number? questioned one Rayees Ahmad Lone.
I was asked to deposit Rs 2000 as fresh deposit before my landline was restored, he said.
Hariparbat Exchange in the old city which has around seven thousand landline subscribers with 3000 active connections, has restored 630 landlines since the service was unblocked by the government on 1st September after 25 days. Hundreds of people have applied for fresh connections and restoration of their numbers, sources said.
“Ideally a dead phone should be restored within 24 hours but we are made to wait for weeks before the service is restored”, subscribers complain.
Moreover a new phone connection has to be made available in less than 48 hours but here we are asked to wait for a month. BSNL no more requires technical non feasibility report for a landline connection anymore as the capacity of exchanges has been enhanced and there is falling demand due to mobile phone proliferation over the years.
“People expect miracles”, was the response of Faheem Ashai, SDE (Outdoor) Soura, who now operates from Hariparbat Exchange after his Soura offices were shut for security reasons. “Angry subscribers thrashed BSNL staff at Soura and we had to shift to safer Hariparbat for security reasons”, SDE told Kashmir Observer.
In response to a query about fresh security deposits for old connections, Ashai said, “This was necessitated so that people do not discontinue the landline service without clearing their bills once mobile phones are restored in the Valley.