As the crisis in the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) remains unresolved, the government is mulling to transfer land assets and loans of the loss making public sector undertaking to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in an effort to make the state-owned telecom firm a debt free entity. The SPV is proposed to sell the land parcels and pay off BSNL’s debt estimated to be around Rs 20,000 crore.
The employees union of BSNL, has been pointing out that the land parcels which are proposed to be transferred to the SPV at the value of Rs. 20,210 crore at prime locations in big cities are grossly undervalued.
"It is astonishing to note that in the name of monetisation of lands, for the purpose of making BSNL a debt free company, the company’s lands are being transferred to the SPV at a "throw-away price," BSNL Employees Union said in a letter to the telecom secretary.
The union said that the market value of the 63 land parcels identified for transfer to SPV is very high, however, these are being transferred at a "dirt cheap price" in the name of book value.
When contacted, BSNL Chairman and Managing Director P K Purwar said, "Such allegations are baseless and incorrect since the valuation has been done on indicative basis for the purpose of preparation of cabinet note. Final valuation will be done by a government registered valuer. The SPV proposed is also 100% owned by the Government of India like BSNL".
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The union said that it gathered information around land parcels of Chennai and Kerala circle and found them grossly under valued.
One of such plot is in Thiruvananthapuram, which is associated with the regional telecom training centre of BSNL, and has been scheduled for selling. The company is selling the land for Rs 10 lakh per cent of land (one cent= 40.47 square meter). But the actual market value of one cent of land is about Rs 30 lakh. The total land being scheduled for selling is 1,17,644 square meters and it is being scheduled to be sold for one third of the market value. However, for the same part of land, Kerala government paid Rs 15 lakh/cent six years ago as compensation for road widening.
Like in Thiruvananthapuram, 8 land parcels are being transferred by BSNL to the SPV in Chennai city. According to the BSNLEU, the total market value of these land parcels has been determined by the BSNL management as Rs 2,753.67 crore. Whereas, the market value of these 8 land parcels comes to Rs 3,867.89 crore. “Thus, it could be understood that in Chennai city alone, the BSNL's land parcels are being under valued by Rs 1,262.89 crore," the letter said.
"The SPV, which has been created to sell BSNL's land, is going to hand over these lands to the corporates and to the entrepreneurs, at a throw away price. We are afraid that, in this process, BSNL is going to incur a massive financial loss," it added.
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As Swapan Chakraborty of BSNL Employees Union pointed out, “This is looting of public property. Earlier, the government had done the same in the case of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd and the same is being repeated for BSNL, too. Ultimately, the company’s lands will be given to the corporates in the name of special purpose vehicle. It is not the revival of BSNL, it is the selling off of BSNL.”
(With Inputs from PTI)