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The board of the state-run telecom services provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has accepted a proposal to lay off more than 54,000 employees. The final decision and implementation by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) are to wait until the upcoming Lok Sabha polls are done with. The government that come on power after the upcoming elections will be the one to take the final decision.

The state-run corporation has been heavily affected after the rise to popularity of Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio. The company’s revenues dipped by 20% during 2017-18, with financial stress mounting on it. The company clocked Rs 25,071 crore in revenues during 2017-18, as against Rs 31,533 crores in 2016-17. Currently, the company is carrying a loss of Rs 7,993 crore during 2017-18, up 66% over the previous year.

Deccan Herald reports that sources close to the development said that at its March meeting, the BSNL board approved three out of 10 suggestions put forth by an expert panel set up by the government. “Announcing the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) package or job cuts and shutting down businesses of the telecom firm would have huge implications on employees and ongoing elections. DoT decided to wait and watch,” sources in DoT said. The panel includes Prof Rekha Jain (co-ordinator), Prof Vishal Gupta and Professor Ajay Pandey from Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Reduction of retirement age to 58 years, which is presently 60 years, VRS
(Voluntary Retirement Scheme) for all employees aged 50 and above, and expediting the allocation of 4G spectrum to BSNL are some of the recommendations approved by the board.

Almost 54,451 BSNL employees will have to leave their jobs according to the reduction of retirement age and the Voluntary Retirement Scheme. This is 31% of the total workforce in BSNL. Currently, there are 174,312 people employed in BSNL.

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