Monday, August 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

4.5 million phones out of order
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 26
Tring...tring. If the ringing sound of the phone appears strange to you, do not be depressed. More than 15 per cent of the telephones or 4.5 million subscribers in the country have some problem or the other with their telephones.

“The BSNL and MTNL must improve their services if they want to remain in business in the emerging competitive environment when private service providers with improved technology are entering into telecom business in a big way all over the country,” observed a parliamentary standing committee.

Mr Somnath Chatterjee, chairman of the Standing Committee on Information Technology, in the report submitted this week, stated that “lack of positive human approach has caused widespread discontentment amongst consumers, overall telephone facilities in rural areas as well as North-Eastern states are far from satisfactory, PCOs are indulging in fraudulent activities and there has been no accountability and responsibility to say the least.”

On the special cell constituted at Sanchar Bhavan to look after the VIP and MP cases, the committee said, “Such special privileges by a public service department to a special category of subscribers are not justified when subscribers generally are not being attended to properly.”

Taking a strong view on the failure of the department to rectify the fault within the prescribed period, the committee said, “Merely by prescribing a time period of 15 days to the circles for furnishing the compliance reports, the department should not absolve itself of its responsibilities.”

“What is required is to ensure that the circles are really serious in dealing with public complaints/grievances, failing which the department should take disciplinary action,” the committee said.

The committee observed that although telephone adalats are being held throughout the country every three months to resolve subscribers’ grievances, yet details regarding the number of cases pending and nature of grievances are not being maintained centrally.

It is for the department to explain how it would monitor the performance/achievements of telephone adalats when records of such performance are not being maintained at the headquarters, the report said.

“In view of the large-scale discontentment amongst the telephone subscribers over the quality of service rendered by the telephone department, it becomes much more important to self-assess the performance of schemes innovated for the benefit of the customer. In the absence of such appraisal, thing cannot be improved,” the committee added.

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