PAC pulls up telecom ministry for lapses in BSNL land deals

The Public Accounts Committee, headed by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, has pulled up the telecom ministry for lapses in BSNL's land deals that caused losses to the company.

The PAC in its report tabled in Parliament today noted that BSNL had paid for acquiring various plots but did not execute sale or lease deed to get those land assets transferred in its name which led to loss at several occasions.

The Parliamentary panel found that due to similar laxity, National Highways Authority of India had acquired a 273 square metre of land in 2003 that was purchased by BSNL but because the said land was in the name of government, the authority did not pay any compensation to the state-run telecom firm.

"The Committee strongly deplore the confused and casual approach of the ministry in dealing with this matter. The committee are distressed to note that though the matter had come to the notice of the ministry after 13 years when this was pointed out by Audit, the ministry are still oscillating and have not been able to resolve the issue till date," the report said.

The committee was informed that BSNL is seeking legal opinion in the matter.

The PAC while "deprecating the laxity shown by the ministry in this regard" recommended that the matter should be resolved at the earliest and sought an update on legal opinion sought by BSNL in the matter.

The PAC noted that out of 17 leasehold plots in Gujarat and Rajasthan circles, lease deed was executed in two cases only. It further noted that out of 65 plots in Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan circles lease deed was executed in 45 cases only. The committee recommended the telecom ministry to fix these cases in a time bound manner.

A part of the plot of BSNL at Mahendra Hills in Andhra Pradesh circle was alloted to Sikh Community Welfare Association in 2005 on which the PAC gave the ministry two months time to update it on action taken report.

"The Committee are constrained to observe that the matter has not been resolved even after 12 years and no compensation has been received so far. Obviously, the ministry has slept over it and not acted with all seriousness that is required," the PAC said.

The panel suggested the ministry to take strict deterrent penal action against the defaulting officer for remaining inactive for such a long period.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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