New Delhi: Breakdown keeps Indian telecoms on hold for eighth day--"technical breakdowns" cited : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

New Delhi: Breakdown keeps Indian telecoms on hold for eighth day--"technical breakdowns" cited

NEW DELHI: Indian telecommunications services remained disrupted for an eighth day yesterday following a huge technical breakdown, officials here said.

The government said in a statement that it was taking steps to get the telecom services back up as quickly as possible.

Telephone users in the Indian cities of New Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Madras and Calcutta were the worst hit following unspecified snags in national networks which had crippled business and hampered day-to-day work.

The disruption also slowed Internet services and scrambled mobile telephone services amid growing fears that telecom workers had sabotaged systems to protest a government plan to privatise a state-owned entity.

The government vowed to take "stern action'' against telecom workers found responsible for the disruption.

However, the head of a state-run telecom firm, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, ruled out sabotage by the protesting engineers and said the chaos was a result of "technical faults.''

The government statement said Telecommunications Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had held a high-level meeting with industry officials to discuss the crisis.

It said the telecom heads would ascertain the causes of the breakdown and send their reports to the government. Industry officials said telecom workers were on a go-slow agitation to protest the impeding corporatisation of the state-owned Department of Telecom Services (DTS).

Earlier this month, several thousand telecom workers ended a nationwide strike which had affected services for three days.

The protest ended following an agreement with the government.

Telecom unions argued that corporatisation will spell massive lay-offs and affect state pensions drawn by workers.

The corporatisation plan is intended to shift the DTS towards a professional management culture and create a share-ownership scheme.--AFP

-- Carl Jenkins (, September 21, 2000


Phone links snapped; govt to take action

The Times of India News Service

NEW DELHI: With telephone services in the Capital and various parts of the country partially disrupted for the second day on Wednesday, the communications ministry has decided to take ``firm action'' against those employees of its subordinate departments and of the autonomous Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited involved in short-term agitation over different issues.

Though it is difficult to gauge the overall extent of the disruption, telephone users in Delhi and some other cities were unable to access the STD facility.

The stir in the Department of Telecom Operations is restricted to around 20,000-odd junior telecom officers who want reassurances about pension and service conditions which might be affected after the conversion of the department into a public limited company. That stir began around a week ago.

The lower-level MTNL employees in Delhi have been agitating for long- pending demands of pay fixation, pension guarantees and bonus. The agitation is supposed to be over by Thursday.

In addition, many of its lower and middle-rung officers are staging demonstrations and sit-ins on different issues: pension prospects, pay parity with other state-run telecom firms like VSNL, as also their service conditions after they came to MTNL on deputation from the ministry in 1986.

Officially, none of the unions involved is agitating. However, the combination of all these appears to have affected telephone links in the country, particularly from Delhi. There is still no clear official picture of the affected services; in fact, KH Khan, chief general manager of MTNL in Delhi, insisted the city services were unaffected.

Communications minister Ram Vilas Paswan convened a meeting of his top officers on Wednesday and said firm action should be taken against employees responsible for the disruption. Corporatisation was no longer an issue, he said, with the employees demands on job- security and prospects and so on having already been granted. It was decided to instruct the heads of the affected telecom circles to send reports ``immediately'' on the extent of the problem and what they were doing to restore normalcy.

Meanwhile, business transactions in the Capital were disrupted with large business houses failing to communicate with their branches. Few could access their internet accounts. Even mobile phone services were affected.

Meanwhile, the Indian Telecom Services Association (ITSA) gave a presentation to the group of ministers on corporatisation and sought complete financial viability for the proposed Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and protection for their civil service cadre in the new setup.

A committee of secretaries met later in the day to take up the presentation by the ITSA and its demands.

-- Carl Jenkins (, September 21, 2000.

Shades of y2k.

-- Wayward (, September 21, 2000.

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