Nothing has been done to restore BSNL services in several parts of Srinagar, including Magarmal Bagh, Batmaloo and adjoining areas, since landlines fell silent on September 7 due to severe floods. Around a month ago, officials concerned said that over 100 metres of cable had been stolen, offering a lame excuse for plain apathy and indifference. Since the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is supposed to be providing an essential service, holding thousands of subscribers hostage for a few lengths of cable for over a month reflects serious deficiency in its functioning. Connectivity in the areas would have long resumed had the Nigam taken appropriate and timely measures. But as it is, even if the BSNL stirs itself to make 100 metres of cable available, field-staff are said to require another fifteen days to make the necessary repairs – a glorious example in efficiency. The huge-revenue earner that it is, the Nigam would not have gone into a financial crisis by providing the cable at short notice.
Post-flood restoration seems to have underestimated the role telecom and internet services play in everyday life and for all sections of society. Having already sustained heavy losses, the city’s business community finds its problems made more difficult due to highly erratic net connectivity. In Magarmal Bagh and Batmaloo, where broadband services are yet to resume, the plight of the trading fraternity can only be imagined. Students and professionals, who increasingly take cyber recourse for standard texts and research papers, are faring equally badly. True, the service has been restored on cell phones, but it does not support downloading study material. Since the Nigam had lost little time in turning itself into a channel for salacious and suggestive messages to signal its post-flood revival, could it be asking for the moon to expect it to deliver on its legitimate business without lame excuses? Subscribers suffering due to its lethargy could have genuine cause to haul it to consumer courts.