Telecom public sector units to spend Rs 6,463 crore this fiscal

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Government has set a total expenditure target of Rs 6,463.65 crore for telecom public sector units, including BSNL, MTNL, ITI, C-DoT and TCIL, this fiscal.

“The provisioned amount will be part of fresh capital expenditure that we will have to make in increasing our asset which includes network expansion and upgradation,” a top official of a state-run telecom operator told PTI. The government has earmarked Internal and Extra Budgetary Resources (IEBR) for BSNL at Rs 5,132.19 crore, MTNL Rs 808.46 crore, telecom product manufacturing unit ITI at Rs 461 crore, research unit Center for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) at Rs 60 crore, Rs 1 crore each for HPIL and Telecommunications Consultant India Limited (TCIL), according to an official document.

Separately, BSNL will get Rs 100 crore as refund of upfront charges paid for spectrum to BSNL on surrender of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum from government. In addition to this, government has earmarked Rs 2,760 crore for laying out optical fiber based network for Defence Services. The project is being managed by BSNL. The target date for completion of network for defense is June 2015 but it is likely to get delayed. BSNL last month issued advance purchase order of around Rs 8,678 crore for 10 year contract to five companies for supplying and deploying optical fibers for the communication network of defense forces.

Government has allocated Rs 461 crore to loss making Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) Limited for revival. The government has transferred Rs 3,537 crore to Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) which is used for increasing telecom service penetration in rural. The National Optical Fibre Network, under which all 2.5 lakh village panchayats are to be connected with high speed broadband services, is being funded through USOF. The government has set target to connect 50,000 gram panchayats by broadband this fiscal and all 2.5 lakh by end of March 2017. Allocation of Rs 1 crore made to Hemisphere Properties India limited (HPIL) indicates progress in resolving surplus land issue of VSNL, now Tata Communications. In 2005, the Cabinet had approved special purpose vehicle, HPIL, to execute the transaction related to the surplus VSNL land.

Tata Communications had acquired the PSU in 2002, but the deal did not include 773.13 acres of land assets owned by VSNL, which have been lying unused following the acquisition. Government has to provide Rs 2 crore loan to HPIL for hiring a consultant that has to work on procedures for hiving off the land.