118 years of Trust Chandigarh Heartbeat THE TRIBUNE
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Saturday, November 28, 1998





Understaffing bedevils the functioning of the department — Photo by Gautam SinghCity telephones: A snag too many

By Jaya Bhardwaj

ALTHOUGH, the Chandigarh Telecom circle has added many feathers to its cap in the recent past, many gaps exist between promise and performance. There are 1,36, 619 installed connections in the circle against an exchange capacity of 1,58, 648 lines. The offload in the 18 exchanges catering to city and adjoining towns varies from cent per cent in Panchkula to 71 per cent in Khuda Alisher.

According to phone-users, this public utility system appears to be tottering because of the absence of proper care and maintenance. They claim that though the department in the last few years has been investing in augmentation and expansion of the system, precious little has been done to improve the working of the existing services. The inquiry, booking, PCO and fault repair services are in a state of neglect. Public utility numbers like 173, 174, 145, 197, 198, 199, 180, and 183 are not promptly attended to.

There is no disputing the fact that the department has done an admirable job in terms of adding lines and installing hi-tech exchanges for the city. In fact, three new exchanges are in the offing, including the one in Sector 7 which is already under construction. The department is also planning to install small exchanges in Parol, Majari, Batta, Tewar, Sanetta and Kandala villages. It is true that the waiting list for connections has come down dramatically and one gets a connection within three to six months in certain areas.

However, the expansion plan of the department has been a little mismanaged as the thrust mainly remains on the northern sectors instead of the thickly populated southern sectors. This results in inadequate service in these sectors. There are 14,000 people in the queue for new connections in the city.

The situation in the southern sectors can be understood from the fact that not a single telephone connection has been installed in Sector 19 in the the last two years despite the laying of cable. The same is the case in Sector 37 and Ram Darbar. In Sector 17, the cable is yet to be laid though there is a long waiting list. Similarly, many areas of Panchkula, Mohali, Dera Bassi, connected to the Chandigarh circle, are deprived of new connections on the plea that they are unviable area. The condition in Phase 1, 3-B-1, 9, 10, 11 and some sectors of Chandigarh, including 46, 47, 37, 38, 39, 40 19, and 17 is no different from the other affected parts of this telecom sector. "What can I do? The municipal authorities are not permitting us to lay cables and this is the reason that the whole expansion work is being affected," says Prithi Pal Singh, Principal General Manager, Chandigarh Telecom circle .

Department sources hesitatingly admit the lack of appropriate engineering skills and say that once a snag develops, help has to be brought in from Delhi or other better- equipped centres. "We have already conveyed to the head office that we have a shortage of staff but there has been a ban on new recruitments. So, neither new posts are being created, nor are vacancies being filled", Prithi Pal Singh says. He attributes the delay in shifting of telephones to the scarcity of manpower. Not only staff, the department is also facing a shortage of cable which is required for expanding the system.

"There has been a tremendous improvement in the functioning of the department in the last three years," says Singh. According to him, the computerised inquiry number 1961 is one of its kind in the country. "This is not only an achievement for the department but a real facility also", claims the PGM.

"Due to one problem or the other, some sectors of the Union Territory have been non feasible for years together. If the administration provides us the required help, streamlining the whole system will not be as tough as it is in present circumstances," Singh adds. He hopes to overhaul the complete system in the next few months.

The department has proposed some other ambitious plans to the Centre which are likely to be get through in the near future. "They will bring a drastic improvement in the functioning of the department", Singh declares.


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