NEW DELHI: Arch rivals AIADMK and DMK clashed in Rajya Sabha on Friday over revenue loss to BSNL because of a telephone exchange set up by a former telecom minister at his Chennai residence, leading to a brief adjournment of the House.
During Question Hour, V Maitreyan (AIADMK) asked Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad whether he was aware of the projected loss to BSNL as a result of the exchange which was allegedly used for operating a television channel.
"Whether the Minister is aware of the fact that a private telephone exchange was installed at the residence of his illustrious predecessor, a former telecom Minister, in his residence in Chennai and what is the revenue loss because of this to BSNL, Chennai," Maitreyan asked.
Before Prasad could get up to answer the question, DMK members lead by Kanimozhi, raised objections.
The total debt of state-run telecom companies MTNL and BSNL has increased to Rs 21,208 crore at the end of June 2014. It was Rs 12,983 crore as of March 31, 2012. For BSNL, it was Rs 3,335 crore, and MTNL -- Rs 9,648 crore. Read More
Chairman Hamid Ansari asked Maitreyan to refrain from making such allegations, but the AIADMK leader was not willing to budge.
Maitreyan countered saying that since the question was about performance of BSNL and MTNL and his query was about the revenue loss only, there was no reason why the Minister would not answer.
"If there is any investigation, let him say what is the loss...What is wrong in my question," Maitreyan asked, and rushed to the Well.
Amid shouts from DMK members, Ansari adjourned the House for 10 minutes.
TNIE broke the story in 2011 through a series of investigative reports by noted columnist S Gurumurthy. In his expose titled ‘Minister Steals a Telephone Exchange, Loots BSNL’, on June 2, 2011, he revealed that 323 ISDN lines were smuggled through 3.4 km long secret cable along public roads to operate them for commercial purposes of SUN TV.