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Friday, September 25, 2020

For 2nd time, no bidders for BharatNet optical fibre cable maintenance work

“We are yet to receive the full and final payments from the revival package. Our plans to float government backed bonds are also stuck due to this (Covid) situation,” a senior BSNL official said.

Written by Aashish Aryan | New Delhi | August 13, 2020 3:21:52 am
The debt-laden telco has also been under pressure from other vendors such as Nokia, which is seeking to recover close to Rs 1,000 crore, and the Tower And Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), which is seeking close to Rs 1,500 crore. (File)

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has for the second time found no bidders for a tender that called for maintenance and upkeep of optical fibre cable used in BharatNet phase one, as per official documents accessed by The Indian Express.

The bid, which had also called for maintenance of optical line termination (OLT) to Fiber Point of Interconnect (FPOI), had been initially floated in April and then again in June after it found no bidders both the times. It has been floated for the third time and the bids, if any, will be opened on August 20. The lack of clarity on the use of Chinese equipment and vendors, as well as the precarious financial situation of the telco could be the reasons for no bidders showing interest in the company’s bid as of now, officials said.

“We are yet to receive the full and final payments from the revival package. Our plans to float government backed bonds are also stuck due to this (Covid) situation,” a senior BSNL official said.

The debt-laden telco has also been under pressure from other vendors such as Nokia, which is seeking to recover close to Rs 1,000 crore, and the Tower And Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), which is seeking close to Rs 1,500 crore. There is also little clarity on whether any Chinese equipment or vendors will be allowed in new tenders that have been floated by the company.

On June 17, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had issued instructions to both BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited to cancel their 4G work tenders and rework it so that Chinese companies are explicitly barred from applying. Officials had then hinted that a reworked tender would be floated within a week. However, the tender has not been uploaded as of date.

BSNL’s 4G tender, which now stands cancelled, has been surrounded in controversies. Officials from government think tank Niti Aayog had initially suggested that BSNL and MTNL’s network 4G network be made entirely from products designed, developed, and manufactured in India. The suggestion made little headway with officials at BSNL or MTNL.

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