BSNL defies PMO, orders GSM lines without tender

Written by: Samyuktha
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New Delhi, May 14: Despite the direction from Prime Minister's Office (PMO) against the purchase of GSM lines, the state-run BSNL has reportedly gone ahead and ordered 10 million GSM (mobile) lines from Ericsson worth Rs 4,000 crore without tender.

On recommendations from Sam Pitroda committee and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the PMO had earlier directed BSNL board to scrap the tender for the purchase and suggested a new model called Managed Service Model, the Daily Pioneer reported.

In the report submitted to the PMO on Mar 2, the committee heading by Prime Minister"s adviser Sam Pitroda suggested that the mega tender should be scrapped and Managed Services Model should be adopted as it is currently being used by the mobile operators.

Even though BSNL scrapped the deal on Mar 5, the telecom company recently gave the order for the purchase of 10 million GSM lines without tender as a part of settlement with various trade unions and Telecom Minister A Raja following the nation-wide strike held by BSNL employees in Apr 2010.

The employee unions were demanding pay hikes, protesting against Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) suggested by the Pitroda panel and also against the BSNL's plans to enter the stock markets.

The Daily Pioneer report points out that DMK"s trade union wing Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) is a powerful force in the BSNL indicating at the Telecom Minister's possible connection with the deal.

The high-volume purchase despite PMO's opposition to it comes amid the raging controversy over the 2G scam. The Opposition parties have been demanding action against A Raja over the alleged irregularities in the 2G spectrum allotment.

The issue not only raises the concern over the wastage of public money by leaders, but also makes one wonder why the Prime Minister silent about this outright defiance of the Cabinet Minister.

DMK is an ally of Congress-led UPA government in the Centre. Having DMK's support gives Congress a stronger hold in the South.

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